Are you looking for ways to maintain sustainability on your construction project?
Building green is becoming a global standard. Here in California, meeting baseline standards is the law. But there are advantages to green construction. Often a preconstruction manager is an invaluable aid to sustainable building.
In the post, we will learn how preconstruction managers can help ensure sustainable construction. But first, let’s find out why building green may be a good idea.
What are the benefits of sustainable construction?
The construction industry is a significant polluter. Sustainable building practices divert waste from landfills and slash CO2 emissions. They also help conserve dwindling natural resources that are used in the production of building materials.
When sustainable methods are used for construction, the sites have a reduced impact on the community. Green buildings contribute to the wellness of their occupants, as they’re built with fewer toxins.
But there’s more to green construction projects than the environment and health. Today, residential, commercial, and industrial tenants want their living and working spaces to be sustainable and are willing to pay a premium for this perk. So, sustainable building practices may also offer higher ROIs to their developers.
What are the ways to maintain sustainability during construction?
Choose the right materials.
Material selection is vital. Building components are not all made the same. During the design phase, the preconstruction manager should consider the following to guide the architects in material selection:
How and where will the products be sourced? Locally produced materials don’t require lengthy shipping and the associated fuel usage, so finding nearby sources is crucial in slashing the project’s carbon footprint.
How much CO2 and other toxins are released during their production? Some building components give off more CO2 during manufacturing than their equivalents. This information is widely available through Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), and other means.
Are they made from recycled materials? Recycling curbs our need to rely on dwindling raw materials for manufacturing building components.
Are they recyclable? Going into the recycling bin at the end of their life-cycle, or as waste during construction, building materials can still serve a purpose instead of clogging up landfills.
But picking ‘green’ building components is not enough. The construction process generates vast amounts of waste, and how this waste is handled has a direct impact on the project’s carbon footprint. Planning deconstructing, reusing, and recycling policies should be the preconstruction manager’s priorities to keep debris out of landfills.
Using prefabricated materials, when possible, is another way to slash waste. Factory-made products leave behind less waste, as any leftovers are easily recycled. When done in the field, there’s a good chance that waste material will end up going to the landfill. What’s more, factory processes ensure precision, and less produced waste.
With dozens, or even hundreds of staff working on a construction project, it’s not enough for the owner, architect, or project manager to strive for sustainability. Everyone on site, from laborer to superintendent, must follow the procedures established by the project team. By instilling accountability, the preconstruction manager can ensure that everyone does their small part to make construction greener.
Manage equipment properly.
Construction equipment needs power to operate. Whether powered by electricity, diesel, or gasoline, each piece of machinery leaves a carbon footprint on the site. A preconstruction manager must plan to reduce equipment operation; this means shutting machines down when they’re not needed. Such policies should be established and announced well before construction begins.
Timely completion may be a key objective in construction, but accelerating the schedule needlessly often leads to using more resources. The just-in-time construction principle entails meeting a project’s deadlines without additional schedule improvements. This policy means keeping the project’s actual material, labor, and equipment usage in line with the baseline schedule and budget. With this approach, additional carbon emissions, resource consumption, and waste are kept to the required minimum.
As a whole, the construction industry is still stuck in the analog era. While every construction firm uses email and digital documents, paper is still the medium of choice for actual building in the field. This often includes multiple drawing packages printed for every stage of the design process and construction. These activities devour vast amounts of paper, ink, and electricity. By setting the right expectations at the start of a project, the preconstruction manager can digitize many of these processes.
The result? Lower demand for trees, water, and power used in the pulping process, and less energy used for transporting the paper waste and recycling it.
What’s more, going digital allows for real-time, remote communication. No paper, no couriers, no waiting, no physical contact – all critical principles to doing business during a pandemic and beyond.
How to build a green building.
The construction site may be sustainable, but what about the building after it’s completed? Once in operation, buildings use energy and water and generate waste. On design-build projects, a preconstruction manager, acting on the owner’s behalf, can steer the architects and engineers to include water and energy efficiency into the design. Sadly, this ability to influence the design team is not inherent to all delivery methods.
Sustainable construction is no longer just a trend. In many states, notably in California, it’s just the new normal. That’s because green building comes with great incentives – environmental, economic, and societal – to the developer, the building’s end-user, and the community.
A project’s preconstruction manager has tremendous power to encourage the sustainability of the construction site, and the building itself. To promote building green, these professionals can:
- choose the right materials
- promote accountability
- manage equipment properly
- use just-in-time construction practices, and
- go digital
If you want your project to reap the benefits of building green, be sure that your team includes a preconstruction manager seasoned in sustainable construction.