How You Can Promote Sustainability in Construction
According to the World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report, the global green building industry doubles every three years. Additionally, the green building materials market alone is expected to reach $234 billion in 2019, and as of early 2016, nearly 75,000 commercial projects were participating in Leadership in Engineering & Environmental Design (LEED) globally.
Green design is becoming a priority or standard for building owners, and contractors like you play a large part in this process. With sustainable construction know-how, you can expand your resume and network for future green projects.
Who Determines the Standards for a “Green” Building?
Several organizations certify “green buildings.” Having a thorough knowledge of the organization’s below, as well as their requirements and standards for certification, allows contractors to broader their capabilities in green construction.
- ENERGY STAR, which is a US Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program.
- Green Globes, an online green rating and certification tool.
- LEED program, which is a part of the US Green Building Council.
As you begin work on a green construction project, understand the credits and certifications from the organizations above that the project is aiming to achieve.
How You Can Contribute to Green Construction
Integrating your knowledge of green construction into your jobsite recommendations will allow you to establish yourself as an expert in sustainable construction practices. With the green construction industry growing rapidly, this could mean more recommendations and work opportunities on future projects.
Electricians and electrical engineers can work with building owners and builders to focus on:
- Energy conservation. Offer energy conservation recommendations from the design of the building, to the finishing details. For example, involve yourself in the design of the building to optimize for natural light, recommend energy management systems, and install motion sensors to save electricity. Be an active participant in the entire process.
- Energy efficiency. Familiarize yourself with energy efficient products and appliances, which you can find a list of on the ENERGY STAR website.
- Energy production. Recommend alternative energy sources when appropriate, such as solar and wind production.
Familiarizing yourself with HVAC products certified by ENERGY STAR and similar organizations will allow you to make effective, appropriate recommendations based on the certification goal. HVAC installers can recommend products like:
- Smart thermostats. From the Nest to the ecobee3, your clients have options. Understand the market’s options so you can make the more effective recommendation in each situation.
- High-efficiency energy systems. These systems have features like adjustable speed drives and innovative supply fan technology. However, it may not be enough to recommend any high-energy system. Some consumers may specifically be searching for an ENERGY STAR certified product.
Plumbers should also be involved in a green construction project from start to finish, as the design of a building can affect plumbing efficiency. If possible, aim to centralize the pluming stack to minimize pipe runs. This qualifies a home for credit in LEED-certified homes.
Additionally, plumbers should recommend water-efficient appliances and products, such as:
- “Dual flush” low-flow toilets. These eliminate the need to flush twice that low-flow toilets typically necessitate.
- Grey water recovery systems. These are particularly important to recommend up-front, as they are much easier to install on a new construction project, rather than retrofit a building.
- Alternative hot water heating approaches. Consider recommending tankless hot water heaters to decrease standby loss from sitting hot water, or solar-assisted hot water heating for energy efficiency.
- Air-admittance valves. Not only do these lessen the need for vent piping, but also reduce material costs for more sustainable construction.
Your Green Responsibilities
As the expert in your field, it’s important to understand the specifications for different green certifications and recognize the goal of the building owner. If they are looking to obtain a green certification, cover all of your bases. Familiarize yourself with the products and services you need to provide in order to adhere to that certification’s requirements.
Sustainable practices are growing, and the more you grow your expertise in green services, the more prosperous your professional future will become.
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