Going green is a hot trend in the construction industry, for both residential and commercial building and remodeling projects. In fact, more than 2.2 million square feet are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified every day, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). But getting LEED-certified isn’t the only way your construction business can benefit from being environmentally friendly. Here’s a closer look at why green building is so popular and small steps your business can take to go green.
Why build green?
Both commercial and residential construction clients are opening their eyes to the benefits of green buildings, including:
- Value: While using green construction methods, materials and technologies may cost more in the building stages, in the long term, these buildings typically cost less to operate and appraise at higher values than traditional buildings.
- Incentives: Clients may be able to take advantage of tax breaks or other financial incentives from federal, state or local governments for choosing green construction or retrofitting existing homes or commercial buildings to be more environmentally friendly.
- Status: Commercial buildings that are sustainably built, conserve energy and enhance the wellness of their employees are more desirable, especially among companies trying to cultivate a cutting-edge image or attract younger workers. Green features such as solar panels are on the top of millennial homebuyers’ wish lists, reports.
To make big changes, start small
The best way to implement change in your business is gradually. Here are some ideas for small steps you can take to make your construction business more eco-friendly.
- Reduce your contribution to landfills. The typical remodeling or construction project generates a lot of excess waste that ends up in landfills. Instead of demolishing old cabinets, light fixtures or windows, look for ways materials can be reused, recycled or donated. For example, you could repurpose wood from walls or floors into other projects; recycle metals such as steel and copper; or donate fixtures to charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, which reuses them to build affordable homes. Reusing materials not only benefits the planet but can also reduce your building costs and improve your profit margins.
- Choose sustainable materials. Whenever possible, try to use building materials that are sustainably and/or locally sourced. While this may cost more, it can also give you greater flexibility in getting the materials you need quickly as compared to having them shipped across the country or from overseas.
- Choose green partners. Make it a point to work with subcontractors and tradespeople who are equally committed to preserving the environment. You can create an informal network of business owners to not only work together but also refer jobs to one another. For instance, if a bathroom remodeling project is too small for you to take on, refer the customer to the eco-friendly plumber you work with.
- Use less paper. Start with simple steps such as choosing eco-friendly printers for your office, printing on both sides of the paper and using recycled ink cartridges. Print only when it’s absolutely necessary. Instead, use cloud-based storage and collaboration to save and share documents and files. Recycle the paper you do use, and purchase paper made from recycled products. Create digital versions of estimates and contracts instead of printing scads of paper. In the office and at the job site, eliminate wasteful timecards or timesheets, and replace them with time tracking apps that save time as well as trees. An app that has GPS tracking capability, is easy to use on a mobile device, and can clock a whole crew in or out at once will simplify your life immensely.
- Ramp up digital marketing and advertising. Cut back print advertising to only your most effective print venues. Instead, increase your use of online advertising, content marketing, social media marketing and other digital marketing methods. Instead of giving every prospective customer a folder full of documents and testimonials at the end of the sales pitch, have your salespeople direct them to links on your website where they can get the same information or view online slideshows of your projects.
Green building is no longer the wave of the future: It’s already here. By committing to green practices in both your business operations and your building projects, you can give your construction company a real edge over the competition.
Photo of solar panel by Lisa F. Young from Shutterstock