Construction projects are among the highest producers of non-biodegradable waste on the planet. Construction companies, architects engineers and buyers all have the power to lessen the impact. But how do we combat the negative environmental impact when we’ve got things to do?
California passed a bill banning sit-down restaurants from serving plastic straw last year to move toward this end. Many cities and corporations globally have already chosen this move independently in the past few years, resulting in reduced plastic straw waste as well as sales in paper straws to surge. Awesome. Plastic straws are only the 11th most found ocean trash, after plastic bottles and bags and cigarettes, to name a few contributing daily items (GetGreenNow.org). It’s great to have some legislative action in support of restoring our global environment, and yet we find there are still giant ecological, human and animal health violations being missed.
If you’ve got a construction or tenant improvement project to do and you make it a point to use paper straws, read on about easy things you can do and request from your team to build out your space with less negative environmental impact (and without blowing the budget).
Architecture, Design and Engineering
Architects, designers and engineers play the most important role in specifying sustainable building products for the purchase of new building materials in construction and tenant improvement projects, like sustainably harvested lumber, high efficiency (HE) lighting and other electronics, skylights, and 0 VOC (volatile organic compounds are unstable chemicals that let off harmful gasses, which is why the government now regulates them).
The architect, designer, and/or engineer working with you in your project can also find ways to integrate existing building elements and finishes to reduce unnecessary demolition and waste, as well as integrate design features that reduce the unnecessary use of electricity like well-insulated buildings and use of natural light.
Demolition & Deconstruction
During the demolition and deconstruction phase of your project, contractors have ample opportunity to contribute to the reduction of your project’s footprint. Removing fixtures and equipment that you won’t have use for, but that still have useful life, and selling or even donating them to an organization that can make use of them for a good cause, are all superior solutions to dumping in a landfill.
With proper management, Craigslist Free ads will also provide a good home for items that would otherwise be thrown out on short notice (just keep in mind basic safety precautions surrounding inviting laypeople onto your job site for these transactions). Contractors can also separate demolition materials at the source for you to allow greater potential for reuse and a higher instance of recycling.
It’s important that your contractor team is using best management practices in handling waste that is bound to be produced at any construction site, including airborne pollutants as well as drainage and runoff from job sites. A construction project typically uses a high level of both water and electricity, and inside both of those, something as simple as thoughtful use can have a large positive effect on your conservation of power, water, and money.
Role of the Owner
So you’re having a space built (or built out), what can you do to be as green as possible? You will need to work through the opportunities for a greener construction process with your design and construction teams, cost out your options, and invest in them.
It costs more to do the right thing, just like it costs more to eat healthier, organic or locally-sourced food. Many more sustainable building options won’t add a premium to your final tab, and some of the options with the greatest impact will. You will need to ask yourself honestly if you are willing to budget 5-10% more on a portion of your project in order to act sustainably. Ask your d-b team/contractor how you can make a more positive impact today.