What Role Do Contractors Play In Green Construction?
More and more owners and stakeholders want their construction project to be environmentally friendly and contractors play an important role in achieving that goal from sourcing materials to working with subcontractors and communicating results with project stakeholders.
Building to a Green Standard
Building to a green standard is not just about sourcing environmentally friendly or sustainable construction materials. Green contractors have a social responsibility to deploy sustainable business practices to complete highly-efficient projects that reduce the carbon footprint while adhering to safety standards.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the preeminent global authority setting strict environmental standards for achieving sustainability in construction. In order for buildings to meet LEED standards contractors must understand where the materials they source originate and their effects on the environment, reduce energy and waste throughout all phases of the construction project and finally the completed project must be sustainable. A building that receives the prestigious LEED certification ensures that it adheres to strict environmental standards for quality, livability and sustainability. It’s important for project owners and stakeholders to communicate their energy efficiency and sustainability goals with contractors experienced in green construction
Sourcing materials for a green construction project is one of the most important roles for contractors. How the materials are produced, where they originate and its environmental effects will be a strong determining factor for whether or not a project will be LEED certified. For example, constructing with recycled steel, installing energy-efficient windows, and using paints with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOC), will earn credits when scoring a construction project for meeting sustainable standards. In fact, the Big River Steel Mill recently received LEED certification, the first facility of its kind to receive this impressive distinction.
Working with Subcontractors
Since most construction projects employ a variety of sub-contractors including carpenters, electricians and plumbers, for instance, they must be capable of delivering goods and services that meet the project’s “green” sustainability goals for reducing waste and increasing energy efficiency. This includes installing ENERGY STAR® appliances wherever possible such as Smart Thermostats and energy efficient HVAC units. Also, installing water conservation equipment such as low-flow toilets and rainwater collection systems play an important role in protecting natural resources.
Communicating with Project Stakeholders
The general contractor has the ultimate responsibility of keeping project stakeholders in the loop during all phases of the construction project. Contractors that have experience with green construction have an understanding of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and LEED scoring system. This invaluable knowledge will enable them to not only ensure the building is well constructed with respect to the environment and safe for construction workers, but can also make suggestions that will further improve energy efficiency of the project and comfort for the occupants over the lifecycle of the building.