In a very competitive industry, contractors are always looking for ways to stand out and have an upper hand over their competition. For some of us old timers who have been in the industry for many years, we look around and can’t believe how much things have changed! Our rulers, measuring wheels, and calculators have been set aside to make room for computer estimating software.
Out transits collect dust in the shop as our lasers are used to shoot elevations and slopes. Hanging a door from scratch has been replaced with prehung doors. And for many, word of mouth and a hand shake have been replaced with legal counsel reviewing contracts. It is imperative that contractors adjust to the changes to stay in business.
More and more individuals and companies—our clients—see the importance of sustainability and using green building techniques and materials. This new trend has created a wave of opportunity for contractors willing to make the shift and become more environmentally focused. Promoting yourself as such will cause people to take notice.
Sustainably is here to stay. It is no longer looked at as a fad that people expect to come and go. As we see our resources dwindle, building green is becoming more important. Sustainability practices in the building industry currently center on those that are least expensive and easiest to implement. Yet, with rapid advancements in materials, mechanicals, and design technology, contractors will be able to offer more options to their customers. Contractors and businesses partnering together to preserve the environment can help any business portfolio.
Meeting the needs of your customer and protecting the environment while remaining economically feasible are key factors in being a successful sustainable contractor. You may want to consider working with an energy consultant. Insulated concrete forms, advanced insulation techniques, engineered lumber, windows and doors, water saving plumbing fixtures, and on-demand water heaters can be great options to offer. Environmentally friendly and recyclable material can be more costly, so make sure you do your research to prevent getting burned on the cost of materials after you put in the bid.
Proper waste management practices can be another great advantage. I knew a contractor who recycled close to 97% of all project waste. Asphalt concrete, metal, drywall, glass, plastic, cardboard, and even wood would be sorted. The labor costs to do this were well worth it for the contractor, because it increased bottom-line profits by reducing dumpster costs and landfill fees. Some recycling companies supply dumpsters with no charge. Some materials, such as doors, windows, hardware, and appliances, may be reused, sold or donated.
Renovating an existing building over building a new one also has its advantages, as it reduces the carbon foot print as well as the cost to the owner.
It is the responsibility of the contractor to learn and educate clients about the importance and benefits of sustainability. Becoming a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified contractor can open new doors in expanding your company. Responsible construction practices are what any professional contractor seeks to pursue. The contractor who can adjust with the times and stay creative will most likely have an edge over their competition.