Sustainable Construction: 8 Ways Companies Can Become Green

8 Easy Ways Construction Companies Can Get Into Sustainable Construction

By Andi Croft

Growing awareness of how one can impact the environment has caused individuals and businesses to be interested, more than ever, in sustainable practices.

Building and construction make up around 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, if you own a construction company, looking for ways how you can make daily work greener can be a massive pull to new customers.

There are several green practices that contractors and construction companies can apply, no matter what niche or sector.

But first, let’s walk you through the basics.

What is Sustainable Construction?

Sustainable construction is about building projects using renewable and recyclable materials or resources. Throughout the project, extra care is vital to decrease waste and energy consumption whenever possible.

Doing so helps protect the natural environment in that area. The result has a sustainable project that’s friendly to the environment.

Why is it important?

To understand why sustainable construction is essential, you need to start thinking big. By looking at climate change, you’d find out that the construction industry contributes 30% to the problem.

In fact, according to Charles Kibert, the director of the Powell Center for Construction and Environment at the University of Florida, most climate change gasses are often related to the built environment. Extraction of resources, material manufacturing, building operations, and transportation systems affect how structures are usually laid out and planned.

Team Discussing Ways Construction Companies Can  Can Get Into Sustainable Construction

Challenges in Sustainable Construction

The most common perception is that the sustainable construction industry is costly and, therefore, a less appealing option. According to a report by the World Green Building Council, although the costs remain the primary concern, owners of green buildings say that they’ve saved a lot of money in the long run. They have significantly reduced operating costs thanks to the sustainable materials that they’ve used.

How can we benefit from it?

Here are the benefits of opting for more sustainable practices in the construction industry:

Financial sustainability

Sustainable construction may be tagged for using more expensive materials, but these green, sustainable structures offer more value than traditional ones. It has more value than conventional buildings, not to mention the energy savings for households and tenants.

Environmental sustainability

Tapping into renewable energy and building materials will help fight climate change. Aside from that, greener, more sustainable structures improve waste management and manage emissions.

Social sustainability

There are also quite several social benefits of green buildings. It improves the overall health and well-being of the people in the built environment.

Aside from that, it also enhances the workers’ productivity during the construction process because of better work environments and noise protection.

8 Ways to Practice Sustainable Construction

Now that you know what sustainable construction is and its benefits, here are the eight practical ways to be more sustainable in your construction projects.

You can also decrease your carbon footprint and help save the environment with these tips:

1. Make sustainability a fundamental part of your business processes

There are little changes that even the smallest construction company can afford to make these days. Over time, these small yet incremental changes can significantly impact the environment.

If you’ve been in the industry long enough and suddenly decided to change course, it’s easy to think of sustainability as merely an “add on item. However, it’s much more efficient and more cost-effective if you keep sustainability in mind right from the very start.

To make your sustainable construction a success, adopt a more holistic approach. One way you can do that is to establish a network of vendors that will give you all the sustainable materials you’ll need for building.

In the same way, you can make changes in your hiring process and prioritize employees with more experience in sustainable construction.

Alternatively, you can also provide training to your existing employees.

Remember, the key here is to build sustainability in your business practices instead of forcing it.

2. Use technology and equipment efficiently

Every second you waste on a piece of machinery that’s misused merely shoots up costs and your carbon footprint. That’s why you must plan your workday. That way, every piece of equipment you have and any required materials is ready whenever you need them.

It would be best to use the right equipment to decrease energy waste. For example, you can avoid wasting fuel by using an onsite generator. You can also opt for more energy-efficient overhead cranes and other materials that you’ll be using for construction.

In the long run, you can also look for ways to rely less on power tools and other heavy machinery. You can do so by carefully choosing the more environmentally friendly materials. This is also where design software for contractors comes in handy.

3. Think about the benefits of prefabrication

There are two main benefits of why you should switch to the prefabrication model.

First of all, its lets economies of scale, with your employees developing prefabricated materials in an assembly-line process. Which, in turn, creates more incredible speed and efficiency.

Although you could still quickly provide your customers with customized solutions, the customization should be done so that various components are put together to develop a final design.

4. Strictly implement standardized processes

By approaching every construction project differently, you won’t be wasting time waiting for your employees to pick up the pace and do what’s needed for that project.

By standardizing the process, projects are done more efficiently, with less waste because of mistakes.

Utilizing prefabricated materials is a great way to standardize the process. For example, once your employees know how to create a wall using ICF blocks, they can apply that to future projects and construction sites with no need to reinvent the wheel.

5. Always choose suppliers who source locally

Aside from streamlining your own transportation costs, you can also choose to source materials locally.

One way you can do that is to pick suppliers that use widely available materials in the area, such as concrete. Another way you can do this is to focus on materials that cost very little on your part to transport.

6. Keep the waste at a minimum

Another important tip is to keep waste at a minimum, and if you can, choose materials from suppliers that require minimal packaging. Using components made from recycled materials is one way to reduce waste.

Another excellent way to decrease construction waste is by training your employees to separate and categorize waste if needed. It will lay the groundwork later on for your recycling efforts.

There are also some materials that you can recycle onsite. For example, crushed concrete can be later used as foundations or aggregate below parking lots. Try to recycle everything that you can. It includes metal parts, plywood, lumber, glass, plastic, masonry, etc.

7. Monitor the transport fleet

One of the primary onsite activities in construction is transportation. To decrease the carbon footprint that’s created by the transportation fleet, use a transport management system.

Doing so allows you to monitor drivers and their driving behavior and even control their speed limit. At the same time, it will enable you to map out the best possible routines while providing real-time proactive maintenance. All in all, these factors significantly reduce air pollution.

In the same way, you can also opt for biodiesel when it comes to running transport vehicles. Biodiesel is a fossil-fuel alternative. You can use it along with existing diesel engines without any modifications.

Biodiesel entrepreneurs in the US are producing about 3 billion gallons yearly. In fact, many agricultural and construction equipment brands like Isuzu and John Deere offer B20 biodiesel-capable trucks and other transport vehicles.

8. Managing the site

There are several best practice approaches that you can apply to treat water on site. It will prevent it from flowing into the local sewer system.

In the same way, worker safety has also led to restrictions and practices to decrease pollution. There should be no smoking on the site, for instance. Or when workers enter the building, they travel over “walk-off mats that get rid of dirt, lead, or any potentially dangerous materials on their shoes.

Contractors should also bring recycling containers for food to reduce organic waste.

Over to You

Historically speaking, the construction industry has been one of the main contributors to environmental pollution. Fortunately, this industry is now working hard to create a more sustainable construction process and become more environmentally friendly.

More and more contractors use energy-efficient construction equipment, vehicles, and building materials. Tighter regulations lead to innovation, and businesses adapt their processes and products to meet these new requirements without sacrificing profits.

As your customers are becoming more and more aware of the health and environmental benefits of sustainable buildings and practices, it’s time for you to step up.

So, there you have it. Those are the easy ways you can make your construction company more sustainable. Companies with more proven track records in sustainable designs will have a more competitive advantage that will be extremely difficult to beat. Good luck!

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