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Design Guidance

Overall Strategies

The walls within an office can be semi-permanent, multi-use or movable. Walls can be made from a variety of materials depending upon the intended use. Providing dividers in replacement of walls can promote collaboration and permit more sunlight throughout the space. However, drywall is typically composed of 100 percent recycled paper and natural gypsum, an environmentally attractive combination. A variety of wall finishes can be used to decorate or distribute natural light throughout the space and to facilitate creativity within team meeting rooms.

Wall Tile

Porcelain, stone, and ceramic wall tile are durable and cleanable materials that are frequently used in areas of high use or where liquids are present.

Best Practices

  • Use a backsplash in kitchen areas for durability.
  • Select easy to clean wall surfaces for ease of maintenance.
  • Use low VOC wall finishes to protect indoor air quality.
  • Look for regionally manufactured drywall to reduce GHG emissions from transportation and products with high recycled content.
  • Use light color schemes such as white or tan painted walls to reflect natural light throughout the space.
  • Consider dry erase wall panels to transform any smooth surface into a high-performance dry-erase writing surface.
  • Consider demountable walls or partitions that can be moved and altered to create different types of spaces to meet the needs of the occupants.
  • Use wall space in a copy room to educate employees on sustainability.
  • Change signage regularly to stimulate interest.
  • Consider replacing part of the standard wall with interior glazing to allow natural light to penetrate into the interior space.
  • Use durable wall base materials such as rubber or hard wood to serve as a protective border.
  • Consider natural cork as a tack surface. Cork comes in rolled, sheet, and tile forms.
  • In rooms with sensitive electronic equipment, select wall finishes that are low-static.
  • Walls should be cleanable and nonporous to prevent growth of mold and mildew.
  • Use durable and water-resistant wall and base materials such as porcelain, stone, or ceramic tile.

Compare Walls Options

EB = Existing BuildingsNC = New Construction and Major Renovation

Federal Requirements

Guiding Principles

  • Materials - Recycled Content ( Guiding Principles criteria 5.1)
    Section: <span>Guiding Principles 5:&nbsp; Reduce the Environmental Impact of Materials</span>

    “Use products that meet or exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) recycled content recommendations for building construction, modifications, operations, and maintenance, where applicable and as required by statute.”

    See the Green Procurement Compilation (GPC) for recycled content recommendations by product type.
    US EPA | Comprehensive Procurement Guidelinesopens in new window

  • Low-Emitting Materials and Products ( <span>Guiding Principles criteria 4.3</span>)
    Section: <span>Guiding Principle 4:&nbsp; Enhance the Indoor Environment</span>

    “Purchase, acquire, and ensure the use or application of low-emitting materials and products during the planning, construction, modification, maintenance, and operations of the facility.”

    Whole Building Design Guide | Evaluating and Selecting Green Productsnon government site opens in new window
    2018 IgCC Section 801non government site opens in new window

  • Materials - Biobased Content ( Guiding Principles crtieria 5.2)
    Section: Guiding Principle 5: Reduce the Environmental Impact of Materials

    “Use products with the highest content level per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) bio-based content recommendations, where applicable and as required by statute.”

    USDA BioPreferred.gov | About BioPreferredopens in new window
    USDA BioPreferred.gov | Policies and Lawsopens in new window
    Whole Building Design Guide | Sustainablenon government site opens in new window

  • Products ( <span>Guiding Principles criteria 5.3</span>)
    Section: <span>Guiding Principle 5:&nbsp; Reduce the Environmental Impact of Materials</span>

    “Procure and utilize construction materials and building supplies that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment over their life cycle when compared with competing products that serve the same purpose.”

    See the Green Procurement Compilation (GPC) for federal requirements by product type.
    Whole Building Design Guide | Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiersopens in new window
    EPA Greener Products and Servicesopens in new window
    2018 IgCC Section 901opens in new window

  • Energy Efficiency ( <span>Guiding Principles criteria 2.1</span>)
    Section: <span>Guiding Principle 2:&nbsp; Optimize Energy Performance</span>

    “Comply with all relevant statutory and regulatory requirements that establish Federal building energy efficiency standards and require the purchase, installation, and use of energy efficient products. Employ strategies that continue to optimize energy performance and minimize energy use throughout the operation and life of the building.”

    DOE FEMP | Energy- and Water-Efficient Productsopens in new window
    ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manageropens in new window
    ANSI/ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1non government site opens in new window

  • Daylighting and Lighting Controls ( <span>Guiding Principles criteria 4.2</span>)
    Section: <span>Guiding Principle 4: Enhance the Indoor Environment</span>

    “Maximize opportunities for and benefits of daylighting in regularly occupied space to introduce daylight and views into the spaces, reinforce circadian rhythms, and reduce the use of electrical lighting. Ensure appropriate lighting controls and task lighting.”

    2018 IgCC Section 801non government site opens in new window

  • Indoor Air Quality during Construction and Operations ( <span id="docs-internal-guid-f1e45d2e-bf74-2656-0c1b-777092dd54a0"><span><span>Guiding Principles criteria 4.6</span></span></span>)
    Section: <span>Guiding Principle 4:&nbsp; Enhance the Indoor Environment</span><br />

    “Implement necessary policies and protocols to prevent moisture damage to building materials and protect indoor air quality during renovations, repairs, and construction. Ensure indoor air quality procedures are in place that protect the air quality for occupants of the building during operations”

    2018 IgCC Sections 1001non government site opens in new window