What makes a sustainable construction company? That’s a question we ask ourselves every day. We’re constantly looking to identify ways we can improve our firm-wide approach to sustainability…both on and off the job site.
In honor of Earth Month, we’re sharing some of our efforts to be leaders in sustainable construction; from reevaluating our company-wide processes to creating sustainable construction projects.
Providing high-quality training and education to our team is critical. We’re bringing in industry experts – on topics as far reaching as jobsite recycling to advanced energy design— to ensure our people have access to the most up-to-date and cutting-edge information available. And that’s not only building awareness— it’s also getting our team excited about sustainability.
Contributing to the Conversation / Research
Currently, our Director of Sustainability, Steven Burke, and Supply Chain Manager, Jon Burton are collaborating on an initiative (with the assistance of a team of Babson MBA students) to reevaluate how we’re managing construction waste. Typically, most consideration is given to recycling on the front end of a project, such as salvaging materials during demolition; this team is evaluating reuse options at project close. Since waste is the single biggest environmental impact we have as a company, minimizing it is the greatest positive impact we can have.
There are many metrics within our industry that evaluate the “greenness” of construction companies, which are a great start. At Consigli, we use a system of qualifications that goes beyond our revenue on green projects in a given year. This extends from our environmental impacts to the health and wellness of our employees: our office space, employee benefits program, retention rate, training options, and encouraging our employees to invest their time in philanthropy and volunteer hours.
Helping Clients Navigate Certification Options
In many ways, delivering a LEED-certified job has become the baseline for sustainability. We work with our clients to offer sustainable choices, whether they have LEED aspirations or not. Many cities have implemented specific regulatory requirements that require higher green standards, including Boston, which requires buildings over a certain size to meet LEED certified levels. In these locations, the additional cost for actual certification is minimal.
Improving Firm-wide Impact
We’re focusing on improving our company processes in the field. For example, we’re taking anti-idling measures during materials deliveries to minimize negative air quality impact; we’re also protecting delivered materials when they’re on site to prevent them from becoming wet and thereby expose occupants to mold.
Selecting the Best Materials
The current version of LEED (V4) has led more manufacturers to disclose the environmental impacts of their products. In addition to communicating the new transparency standards to our tradespeople, we train them on why these standards are important and what they’re providing. And while currently the new standards are more about the disclosure of the impact than about changing the products themselves, it is resulting in a marketplace shift; over time manufacturers who build better products with less harmful ingredients will be rewarded, leaving a more positive legacy for future generations.