Green construction isn’t new anymore. In fact, it’s become pretty commonplace in the construction industry. Just look at how many projects aim to achieve LEED certification or the new BREEAM certification, which we recently discussed here on Viewpoint Surveyor. These certifications highlight the growing demand from building owners to go green, but also the interest of municipalities and industry associations in encouraging this type of building.
While green construction is obviously popular for environmental reasons, it also comes with many other upsides including long-term benefits for owners, occupants and the community. We’ll likely continue to see increased interest in green building, which means it’s important for contractors to be knowledgeable about the direction the industry is heading and informed about the goals of project owners.
Economic Benefits of Green Building
According to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), green building comes with clear environmental benefits. In the United States, buildings account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, but LEED-certified buildings have 34 percent lower emissions and use 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water than other buildings.
Those are some pretty significant environmental benefits. But the benefits go beyond improving sustainability. The USGBC also reports LEED-certified buildings can attract more buyers and office building owners can charge higher rents. That’s partially because these buildings are seen as desirable, but also because they have lower operating costs thanks to environmentally-friendly features like energy-efficient heating and air conditioning, windows and lighting.
The World Resources Institute reports that 38 percent of commercial office space was certified by LEED or Energy Star in 2017, which is a big number, and even more notable in light of the fact that in 2005 that number was only five percent. This suggests building owners have seen the economic benefits of green building and many have quickly gotten on board.
Health and Community Benefits
Part of the reason companies and tenants might find green buildings desirable spaces is they come with health benefits for occupants. For example, studies have found well-ventilated spaces lead to better cognitive function and performance, and healthier indoor air can reduce allergies, asthma and other common health problems.
Green buildings can also attract businesses to communities and reduce resource use. Both those features make them desirable additions to cities and towns.
The Role of Contractors in Green Construction
All these benefits demonstrate that green construction isn’t just a trend and something contractors need to know about. The fact that Engineering News-Record publishes an annual list of the top green building contractors also supports the assertion that green building is more than just something architects need to worry about.
So what role do contractors play in the green construction process? They aren’t usually responsible for driving a green building project, as that tends to lie with owners and architects. They are, however, responsible for project execution, so it’s critical they understand the goals of the project from the outset. If an owner wants to achieve LEED certification, the building will need specific materials and features. Since contractors are most often responsible for ordering materials, they need to know right away what’s needed so timelines and budgets aren’t disrupted.
There might also be requirements for the way energy and waste are handled on the jobsite, so contractors may also need guidance in that regard.
If you plan to work on many projects that seek green certifications, it’s worth learning the details of these certification processes. Otherwise an owner might opt for a contractor that has plenty of experience with green building. Having knowledge of the green building processes and making that known to owners and architecture firms could help you win more jobs in the future.
At Viewpoint, we’re well acquainted with green building—our headquarters is even located in a LEED Gold certified space! We know meeting all the requirements for green certifications isn’t always easy, but we’ve also learned staying organized and having good communication throughout your organization can help. If you’re looking for tools to ensure your projects have good collaboration and stay on track, take a look at our software solutions that will connect your entire team.