By James White
Much of the construction industry is turning green with an eye to the future and the ever-increasing demands of eco-conscious customers.
It’s estimated between 40 to 48 percent of new commercial buildings will be green beginning in 2015, according to the Green Building Council. Sixty-two percent of construction companies building single-family homes report using green building methods in at least 15 percent of the homes built since 2013. That number is expected to rise to more than 80 percent by 2018, presenting a huge economic opportunity for construction industry professionals large and small.
What’s Red, Hot and Green This Year in Construction
- Many construction companies are switching to paperless processing. Everything from customer files to zoning requirements, from project invoices to project updates can all be done without killing a single tree. Construction contractors believe going paperless could add up to $5,000 a year in savings as well as streamlining the entire business. Geo-fencing is replacing timecards. Most construction contractors already rely on time-tracking software to help them organize bill paying and employee payroll, but new geo-fencing applications have taken job site tracking a step further.
- Zero-energy buildings save energy and actually prevent greenhouse gases. A zero-energy structure employs solar, wind and biofuel solutions to electricity and heating/cooling needs. Slow to catch on because of their upfront expenses, zero-energy buildings have long-term energy-saving benefits that make them a sound investment. Solar power, the best known of the renewable energy resources, is the most employed of the green building materials currently in use.
- New peer-to-peer (P2P) business solution known as resource sharing.Startups such as EquipmentShare.com in the Midwest and Yard Club Inc., based out of San Francisco, match contractors to equipment owners and operators, which is beneficial to both parties. This not only helps small construction businesses by providing access to equipment they may need without having to purchase it, but big heavy-equipment dealers can benefit from sharing as well. By renting out their heavy construction equipment, companies can generate additional income between projects and provide work for their operators rather than lay them off in lean times. Caterpillar Inc., one of the largest heavy-equipment dealers with over 400 different heavy-equipment products for sale and rent, recently announced an investment in Yard Club proving just how valuable this P2P business will be in the future.
For construction companies to grow and thrive throughout the coming years, it seems apparent green practices and materials will have to be employed by most serious development companies and contractors. Demand for green building materials and processes continues to grow and is expected to increase dramatically over the next several years.
The construction industry must adapt to changing markets, customer pools and industry innovations to remain viable in the 21st century. So far, it looks like they’re off to a good start.
James White is an experienced home improvement blogger and construction worker. His writing has appeared in many publications, including EHS Today, Constructonomics, and Building Blok. He is involved in promoting the ideas of sustainable building and construction safety. And, when he’s not saving the planet through his blogging, White revels in exploring the latest developments in the construction and manufacturing industries, its history, its advancements, and where we will be tomorrow.