Earth Day encourages people to take a step back, celebrate our planet and create awareness about environmental issues. From water and gas to electricity and materials, the International Energy Agency states nearly 40% of total direct and indirect carbon emissions are due to building and building construction sectors combined.
To reduce the impact construction has on the planet, green building has developed over the years and focuses on finding a balance between high-quality construction and low environmental impact.
“Sustainable or ‘green’ building design and construction is a method of wisely using resources to create high-quality, healthier and more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings. A green building is more than the sum of its parts — its process and impacts matter, too.” – Green Building Solutions
As millennials hit the market, the push to introduce eco-friendly, or green construction is at the forefront.
Sustainability is on the top of everyone’s agenda and over the years people, businesses’ and cities have focused on new ways to reduce carbon emissions. The criteria have begun to change and going green in the construction industry is anticipated to be among the fastest growing industries worldwide.
According to Statista, the number of LEED-certified projects — a green building rating system — in the U.S. rose from 296 certifications in 2006 to over 65,000 in 2017. Therefore, maximizing efficiency, durability and savings, is the next step in continuing to:
1. Build America
2. Protect America.
How then, does the construction industry make choices to respect natural resources while fulfilling the needs for buildings at the same time?
There are numerous ways to help shape the future of the planet. Construction has been a part of the movement for years and continues to develop new methods of sustainability. Here are a few examples of what the industry is doing to participate in reducing its carbon footprint.
Green Rating Systems
Green building standards, certifications and rating systems mitigate the impact buildings have on the natural environment through encouraging sustainable designs. Becoming familiar with systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Initiative (GBI), Green Globes or other programs, could push your company ahead of its competition. LEED, the most widely used rating system, awards points to buildings, for seeking innovative solutions to protect our environment by assessing: location and transportation; materials and resources; energy and atmosphere; water efficiency and more. Through earning one of LEED’s four rating levels — certified, silver, gold or platinum — the construction industry is saving money, saving materials and saving the planet.
NCCER Headquarters received the LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Introducing New Materials
When thinking about the materials needed to complete a small or large project, consider making an environmentally conscious decision to choose products that have higher percentages of recycled content. Utilizing materials such as recycled steel, asphalt pavement or shingles, insulated concrete forms and reusable wood, can all play a small part in enhancing the overall efficiency of a project.
Concrete, drywall, wood, metal and cardboard, are just a few of the materials that make up 70 to 95 percent of those discarded at residential or commercial sites. Regarding the national interest in constructing green buildings, recycling construction and demolition materials can help reduce both purchasing and disposal costs. To understand and learn about what materials can be recycled, along with the requirements, do the research on what facilities near your site are participating. It is worth the time. As a starter, The Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA) represent construction and demolition materials recycler worldwide and The National Demolition Association list buyers of acceptable materials online. The integration of recycling onsite could be the first, small step to implementing a more sustainable work environment.
Shifting to eco-friendly methods within the construction industry is a great opportunity for companies to be a part of a movement that continues to grow every day. Although Earth Day creates awareness for the environment once a year, the construction industry has the chance to celebrate Earth Day, every day.