These days, more and more construction projects are going green. No, we're not talking about painting with a particular shade of emerald - we're talking about building regarding the natural environment. Buildings are able to achieve hard ratings from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a U.S.-based certification program that awards Gold, Silver, or Platinum status to buildings around the world.
As businesses pivot to meet new emissions standards and sustainability goals, green building (also known as green construction) is a fast-growing facet of the construction industry. Contractors looking to meet the demands of modern clients should understand the green building process from start to finish, so here's a quick overview of what it takes to ensure a construction project stays "green."
It Starts with a Blueprint
All aspects of a project need to work together to ensure a building is green, and that begins with the architects. New builds should be designed to maintain pre-existing natural habitats and ecosystems, so site choice is extremely important. Buildings can also improve their LEED rating if erected near public transport.
Additionally, green buildings need to maximize energy and water usage - this is where engineers play a critical role in the early stages of development. Innovations in heating or air circulation can ultimately save massive amounts of energy (and money!) once a building has been constructed, and lessen overall environmental impact.
Sustainable Construction Practices
When it comes to construction, there is quite a bit that contractors and their teams can do to ensure a project is green. Firstly, choosing eco-friendly building materials is key to reducing a building's carbon footprint. Innovative products are added to the market every year that replace older, less sustainable offerings - recycled wood, cork, bamboo, or steel have become increasingly popular options. Sourcing materials locally is also encouraged, as it reduces transport distance and lessens a project's emissions.
Secondly, the efforts made during construction to recycle and reduce waste are hugely important. Working efficiently and transparently so that materials aren't wasted and using leftover materials (such as concrete) for future builds can have a big impact on a long-term project and affect the LEED rating.
New Installations May Require New Training
Contractors in particular may need to train on various types of installations and technology that are becoming increasingly common in green building projects. Solar panels, for instance, are growing in popularity in commercial and private builds and can be installed on roofs or on the ground. Other types of energy-efficient devices, such as motion-sensor lighting, are also becoming popular in LEED-rated green buildings. Many of these skills can be taught in quick certification programs, opening up a new path for longtime contractors or construction workers.
Additionally, a popular and low-cost way of meeting LEED green standards in many countries is by purchasing modular or prefabricated building elements. An entire home can be created in a warehouse, transported, and reassembled on site, ultimately cutting down on any excess materials waste. It's beneficial for modern construction crews to become familiar with these modular processes, as they expand in popularity for their cost, convenience, and low environmental impact.