Finding a Green Construction Company

Posted: 08/18/2014

We all know how to switch our light bulbs to the more energy efficient kind. And we know to turn the faucet off while we brush our teeth, or to buy a low-flow toilet to conserve water. Energy efficient washing machine? Check. Dishwasher? Check. Recycle everything with a label? Check.

So, let’s say you’re wanting to do a renovation or build an addition on your home. As earth-conscious as you are, you want a construction company with the same green-friendly approach to its everyday work habits.

The Mindset of a Green Contractor
It’s one thing to be told a construction company is green, but how do you really know that is the case? AEC Business (offering resources for architects, engineers and contractors) recommends that green building practices needs to take the following into account:
  • An intelligent approach to energy
  • Safeguarding water resources
  • Minimizing waste
  • Maximizing reuse
  • Promoting health and well-being
  • Creating resilient and flexible structures
  • Considering the building’s effects on the surrounding community
  • Considering all stages of the building’s life cycle

You’ll know upon initial interview if a construction company stands behind these same motivations.

In addition to all of the ways a construction company shows itself to be green through its business practices, you can be certain that it’s a green construction company if it has a U.S. Green Building Council membership and/or goes through the USGBC’s LEED certification process for each and every renovation project and new build. USGBC members receive exclusive access to education, programs and resources that help them develop effective green business practices and promote that to the community.

True to Life Application
Obviously a green mindset needs to align with action. How does all of this look in real life during the construction process? When you interview contractors and speak to their references, consider that a green construction company should do the following:
  • Focus on the use of quality air barriers, caulking, foam, insulation, sealants, etc to reduce air leakage from any renovated or newly built area.
  • Highly suggesting the use of recycled building materials, such as glass, concrete, steel and wood.
  • Open to the use of reclaimed building materials (however, this is dependent upon the look you want), which can save money as well as help the environment.
  • Retaining outdated materials (rather than taking them to the dump when they’re replaced) to donate to organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
  • Emphasizing the installation of energy efficient devices in your renovation design or build.
  • Conserving energy during the building process, such as unplugging devices when not in use.
  • Using electric- or battery-powered tools over gas-powered tools.

If emphasizing the conservation of the planet is important to you in all aspects of life, it won’t take long to determine whether a construction company truly stands behind the green-friendly practices it proclaims. A little digging and observation can go a long way toward finding a contractor that is a good fit for your earth-conscious ideals during a renovation process or new build.