The search for sustainability is currently a hot topic in nearly every industry and construction is no exception. From low-impact architectural designs to ethically sourced building materials, the “Green Construction” wave is proving to be more than just a fad. Instead, it is defining the new golden standard of construction practices in North America and the rest of the world.
What Exactly is a Green Building?
Even though the term may be used to describe a wide range of design features, processes and construction practices, true “Green Buildings” are first and foremost designed to reduce and limit their impact on the environment when compared to traditional construction methods.
A trusted international rating system exists to determine exactly how “green” any architectural structure or community is the LEED (short for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”) Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. According to the official site, “LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, providing a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.”
Present in 165 countries and territories, LEED-approved buildings are made to save energy, reduce water usage, protect finite resources, generate less waste and support human health.
There are four levels of LEED Certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum (requiring 80+ points over a total of 110). Ratings are also tailored to different building types, including new construction, renovation projects and existing buildings.
It’s noteworthy that some of the most high-profile construction projects in the U.S. and beyond are not only meeting these green construction guidelines but exceeding them.
Whether it’s LEED, Envision (from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure based in Washington, DC) or another vetted method of green building evaluation, green construction is progressively becoming more accessible and attractive to everyone.
Why Choose Sustainable Construction?
As human populations grow and resources become scarcer, construction firms will have no choice but to adopt sustainable building practices due to pressure from local governments, companies and consumers. The critical question will quickly shift from “should I implement green practices in my building strategy?” to “can I afford not to offer sustainable construction solutions?” For instance, cities like St. Petersburg (Florida) are leading the charge in terms of city-initiated efforts to promote green construction, enacting an ordinance requiring that any infrastructure project over $2 million meet LEED Gold certification and Envision standards. And it is just one in a nationwide movement of over 300 locations beginning to enforce green building ordinances.
There is a misconception that green construction practices are A) too difficult to adopt and B) too expensive for construction firms and contractors to realistically implement. Thankfully, these false perceptions are changing.
In 2005, less than 5% of companies had LEED or Energy Star certification. Fast forward to 2017, when that number grew to almost 40% according to Green Building Insider. The new generation of green buildings are not only more cost-effective to build, but also use fewer resources like electricity, water and heat, resulting in incremental cost savings over time; a mutual win for builders, owners and mother nature alike.
Better Processes and Materials
To meet the predicted spike in demand for sustainable building materials, more manufacturers and raw material producers will invest in increasingly sophisticated technologies to ensure that their products meet these new “golden” construction standards.
Best Practices for Sustainability
Here are some of Construction World’s practical ideas to effectively implement green construction strategies in your projects:
Reduce Usage of Toxic Chemicals
Easily improve the health and safety of construction projects by using environmentally safe and non-toxic paints, solvents, treatments and building materials. Switch to affordable biodegradable materials for insulation, such as sheep’s wool or recycled cotton from clothing.
Improve Waste Management and Demolition Practices
Instead of sending demo-waste and unused construction supplies to the local landfill, find ways of recycling them, reusing them in future projects or donating them to organizations specialized in giving new life to older materials.
Switch to Locally Sourced Materials
Reduce the environmental impact of transporting materials over long distances by switching to ones that are locally sourced. This way you can reduce your carbon footprint while supporting local businesses and producers.
Call Hanto + Clarke at 850.512.1934 today to start constructing your green, energy efficient building today.