In a world where being environmentally conscious is becoming more and more important, people are slowly re-evaluating their choices and making decisions based on what is best for the environment and the next generation. Construction in the United States is a huge industry and contributes significantly to the economy. With this in mind, why would an entire industry change its practices in a way that may negatively impact the bottom line? Fortunately, there are those in the industry that recognize the issues that come with pollution, and the steady decline in the availability of natural resources. 2016 saw an estimated increase in eco-friendly construction revenue to about $245 billion, which is a smaller portion of overall construction revenue, but still suggests a turn in the right direction.
So what are some things to consider when choosing to take a more eco-friendly approach to building?
- Where do your materials come from? Can you locally source your materials? This not only helps to reduce the carbon footprint created from the transport of raw materials over long distances, but can also help to stimulate local economy. You could also consider recycled or renewed materials to lower costs and prevent waste.
- Are you being energy efficient on site? This may be as simple as ensuring large machinery and vehicles is not running during downtime. Other options may include looking into hybrid motor technologies or other more energy efficient types of machinery.
- Use proper insulation. Both heating and cooling account for a large percentage of a building’s energy use, so it is important to ensure that the insulation will work to prevent any escape of air. You can also consider windows and doors when building, as these are common areas that air can escape from.
- Use fixtures and features that conserve water. Things such as low flow toilets, faucets, and showers can help to reduce the amount of water that is wasted. Not only is this good for the environment, but businesses and homeowners also could save on water bills!
- Conserve electricity with low impact lighting and fixtures. This is an easy one, but ensuring that homes and businesses are outfitted with LED or CFL lighting will reduce the amount of electricity consumption. The days of incandescent bulbs are behind us!
- Smart Landscaping. Try to design your landscaping in a way that can utilize native plants and trees to slow runoff, reduce or eliminate irrigation requirements, or allow for additional shade. This will help to reduce the amount of water needed for upkeep. It is also important to ensure native species are used to prevent the spread of invasive plants.
- Energy star and water star programs are designed to reduce either the energy consumption or water consumption of a home. Energy Star windows and appliances are rated as such to indicate the amount of energy that you save by using them. The lower the rating, the more energy that is being saved. Generally, the price of these items is offset by the amount of energy saved. Florida also has a Water Star program, which is a water conservation certification program for homes and commercial development.
If you really feel like being more efficient and helping the environment, you can consider things such as geothermal energy, provided you are in the right part of the world, or solar panels as well. Although the initial cost may exist at the beginning, many of them turn out to be money savers in the long run.