“Green business” has proven to be more than just a trend. Environmental sustainability has become a construction industry standard due to consumer demand and a shift in societal values. More and more clients are requesting green buildings because it saves money long-term, improves the health and safety of buildings, and gives them an environmentally-sound image.
There’s a good reason for this green shift. In fact, the building industry consumes nearly half (47.6%) of all energy produced in the United States. 75% of all electricity is used to operate buildings. This is causing a major financial and environmental expense that’s draining businesses, especially retailers.
The construction industry is historically one of the least green sectors. That’s why a growing number of clients are becoming increasingly concerned with how they build. In response, more construction companies are going green as a means of differentiation from competitors.
To appeal to the ever-growing green market, your construction company needs to implement more eco-friendly, green practices.
Thankfully, going green isn’t as challenging or expensive as it once was. Thanks to technological developments in construction, it’s becoming easier than ever to make your construction projects more eco-friendly.
So what can you do to effectively be more environmental and expand your green offerings to clients?
1. Get your green certification.
Being “green certified” can show that your company cares about your local and global community. This tells your clients and stakeholders that being green—and all of the benefits that come with it— is an important part of your mission and offerings.
You can be green certified and/or use materials that are green certified. There are a number of ways to get your company or project certified as “green,” but the two most significant are through LEED and GBI.
The U.S. Green Building Council is the primary rating system for eco-construction in America. In 2000, they released the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria, which is a rating system for standing and in-construction building eco-performance.
The Green Building Initiative (GBI) assists the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) to promote more sustainable building guidelines for residential structures specifically.
Both organizations use performance-based codes to ensure that your design, construction, tools, and processes are up to state and local green codes. The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) often sets these comprehensive requirements as well.
Common certifications for building materials and appliances include:
- Energy Star
- Forest Stewardship Council
- SCS Global Services
- Green Seal
- Cradle to Cradle
- Green Squared
Learn more about the ins and outs of green certification here.
2. Use green materials.
There are a number of sustainable materials that are actually more cost-effective and efficient than traditional construction materials. The resources you use will determine the cost, longevity, and health of the overall structure—which is important to your clients.
Some of the best green materials to consider using in your construction projects include:
- Recycled concrete
- Recycled steel (Steel Recycling Institute)
- Recycled wood
- Plastic composite lumber
- Wool bricks (37% stronger than regular bricks)
- Polyurethane rigid foam
- Straw bale frames
- Structural insulated panels (insulated plywood, strand board, cement panels)
It’s also important to use carpeting, painting, and coatings that are made without volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
Check out some of these interesting uses of green materials with Inhabit.
3. Install green solutions.
Some clients may actually want you to install additional features that make the building greener. Offering eco-friendly options is a great way to differentiate your business and delight your client.
For example, insulation is one of the best (and cheapest) ways to reduce a building’s energy bill and environmental footprint. Heating and cooling account for nearly 50% of a building’s energy consumption. Insulation works to trap heat to better regulate temperature throughout the building. Insulation in walls, roofing, doors, and windows can help seal in building temperature so HVAC air doesn’t escape outside the building, wasting energy and expense.
Solar panels are also becoming an increasingly popular green solution. Solar energy is a clean, renewable source of power that’s proving its worth despite the initial upfront price tag. Check out some interesting facts about the growth of solar power here.
Other examples of popular building solutions include:
- Rainwater harvesting systems
- Eco-friendly lighting
- Low-E window films
- Water conserving fixtures
- Programmable thermostats
- Smart home installations
- Green HVAC systems
- Efficient landscaping
- Geothermal energy systems
- Steel roofing
4. Use green building resources.
There are two tools you can use to guide you in your quest for green. The HDPs and EDPs can help you make strong eco-friendly choices by presenting manufacturer reports on the materials and ingredients in their products.
The Health Product Declarations (HPDs) focus on the health effects of products. If your client is concerned about how the materials you’re using will impact the health and wellness of their inhabitants, especially with regards to air quality, the HDPs are a great resource.
The Environmental Product Declarations (EDPs) look at a product’s total environmental impact from beginning to end on the supply chain. Similarly, manufacturers are also conducting Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of their products. This measures the total environmental impact of products from harvesting of resources to energy usage to final waste.
5. Offer off-site construction.
Prefabricated or volumetric construction is when mainframe structures are mass-produced and delivered directly to the site already constructed. This saves time, transport, and waste. It allows for greater control in manufacturing and better quality builds without worrying about the elements on site. It also wastes significantly less energy, fuel, and natural resources.
This is similar to permanent modular construction, which involves creating specific sections or modules of the building off-site and then assembling them after delivery.
Learn more about off-site construction here.
6. Implement new technologies.
There are countless new advancements in construction technology that are making your building processes more efficient and streamlined. Going paperless does more than just save the trees; it actually allows you to run a more energy- and material-resourceful business.
3D printing is one of the hottest construction technologies that’s making an eco-splash. 3D printing not only reduces construction time to a fraction, but it also prints in fully recycled materials—and these materials are themselves re-recyclable. Learn more about the significant green benefits of 3D printing here.
Blockchain technology is also becoming more and more common in the construction industry. Each company, partner, and client involved in the build can input and centralize their data with blockchain tech. Learn more about the impact of blockchain technology on the construction industry here.
There are also a number of construction softwares that help with holistic project management. These can assist you with everything from material procurement analysis to accounting and human resources. AI-based technology is especially useful because it can analyze your current numbers and offer green solutions that can save time, money, and resources.
For example, estimation software helps you build a better projection of the project. This will calculate the exact amount of materials and labor you’ll need for the build, which helps prevent unnecessary waste and cost.
7. Choose green partners.
The partners and sub-trades you work with will make or break your green mission.
For example, you want to offer steel as a renewable resource. You convince your clients to use steel frames and roofing because of its efficiency, long-term cost benefits, and lower environmental impact.
But you find out that your supplier of steel is using double the amount of energy during production that other companies are using. This is actually worsening the environmental impact and making the steel less efficient—even though steel is naturally one of the greenest materials.
This can severely damage your reputation as an eco-friendly company because you are sourcing from a non-green partner.
If you want to get the benefits of being an eco-friendly company, make sure that the materials you buy and the brands you work with have a genuine green mission.
Going green shouldn’t be an afterthought—it should be a way of doing business.
If you want to work with a sustainable, efficient hardware partner, look no further than Ryker Hardware. We are constantly working to ensure we provide the highest quality products at the best price.
Contact us now to start the green conversation!