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GREEN BUILDING GUIDELINES: Before, During and After Construction
Material and Specification Considerations 

 

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Sustainable, or green, building practices create and use environmentally-friendly and efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, and maintenance. As a business, when you choose to design, construct, and implement renovations using sustainable practices, you can work toward obtaining green building certifications, such as the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® system for rating buildings.

Sustainable renovation and construction also involves design and purchasing decisions in the areas of air quality, water and sewage, energy use, and recycling. While navigating through the various options and associated cost can seem overwhelming, the US Environmental Protection Agency has compiled a wealth of information and resources pertaining to green construction, renovation, and building maintenance that can be used by large C&D firms with Federal contracts to regional or local building contractors to “do-it-yourself” individual consumers. 

While the United States Government’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program is designed to assist federal agencies and purchasers with "buying green," and stimulating market growth for green services and products, the program can also help private businesses or any size and individual consumers.

Through this public access index you can:

Once you’ve had a chance to review the green products, services, and effectiveness ratings in the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Index, you can then take the next step and begin the ordering and purchasing process through the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database. This frequently updated database provides information on Energy Star, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Biopreferred products in addition to supply programs for environmental products such as the U.S. General Services Administration and Ability One.

Though this database you can learn about federal and state contract specifications and policies as they pertain to buying products and services listed through the Index as well as appropriate contract language to use if you are a Federal agency or contractor.

The database also explains the accrediting guidelines and standards developed by the Federal Government and independent standards organizations including:

  • The US Department of Agriculture’s Biopreferred Program

  • The Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® Program

  • The EPA’s WaterSense Program

Finally, the database also provides a comprehensive listing of service providers and product vendors meeting the environmentally-rigorous standards determined by the Federal Government and independent standards organization. This listing also includes supply information about programs for federal agencies and contractors such as the U.S. General Services Administration and Ability One's Skilcraft® Environmental Products as well as many other environmentally-friendly approved products and services.

Once the design and construction or renovation of a green-building is complete, attention must be drawn to left-over materials and determining what constitutes as waste and what can be recycled. Many industrial materials used in the construction or renovation of roads, buildings, and other structures can be recycled. For example, asphalt and concrete can be crushed and used as fill, drainage material, and in roads and pavement. Shingles used for roofing can be ground and used in pavement. Before trucking what you believe to be waste to the landfill, do a little research – one business’ “trash” may be a green manufacturer’s gold!

If you want to know more about how to turn leftover construction and demolition materials into future useful items, the EPA’s Construction Initiative can be of service. This group is a collaborative effort bringing together both public agencies and private sector businesses to increase the reuse and recycling of industrial waste materials in construction and renovation projects throughout the country. In order to spread information and resources most effectively, the EPA partners with the Federal Highway Administration and the Industrial Resources Council to provide assistance to transportation officials, real estate developers, building owners, architects, and general contractors.

While reading and researching the resources and services that are available for sustainable-construction is the first step, just how does a major construction project pull all the components together? Take a look at this success story involving Destiny USA, a commercial development planned and developed in Syracuse, NY.

 In 2006, the EPA and Destiny USA discussed the environmental benefits of industrial materials recycling and sustainable building practices. The EPA and Destiny USA agreed to a voluntary Memorandum of Understanding in which Destiny’s declared their intent to employ pollution prevention and conservation initiatives throughout the design, construction, and operation of the commercial facility. As a result of the MOU, the EPA provided assistance to Destiny resulting in several environmental milestones being met including:

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions. Destiny utilized more than 5,440 tons of reusable coal-fly ash in parking lots, sidewalks, elevator shafts and other locations, thereby reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 5,400 tons.

  • Reduced Air Emissions from Construction. Construction vehicles were transitioned from B20 biodiesel fuel to B100 biodiesel fuel resulting in reduced air emissions.

  • Purchasing Renewable Energy.  Destiny switched to 100% green power preventing approximately 958 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

There are technical and financial incentives for making the decision to build green, and there are numerous resources available to assist your business at every step of the way. Before you start your next contract or project, take a look at the sustainable building opportunities that are offered and make the decision to build green – you might just find some extra “green” in your bottom line as a result of it!

Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com

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