How many terms have you heard used in association with the term “Green” in the context of responsible use of resources in building construction?
The following terms come to mind:
Alternative Energy, Biodegradable, Carbon Footprint, Carbon Neutral, Climate Change, Conservation, Eco-Assessment, Environmentally Preferable, Energy Efficient, Fossil Fuel, Fuel Cell, Global Warming, Green Design, Green Fatigue, Greenhouse Effect, Hydroflurocarbons, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Life Cycle Assessment, Non-Renewable Resources, Offsetting, Ozone Layer, Photovoltaic Panels, Post Consumer Waste, Recycling, Renewable Energy, Renewable Resources, Solar Energy, and Wind Power.
So many terms, so little understanding.
Let us zero in on one of the terms on the list above, “Green Fatigue.” I think many of the participants in the building construction industry are becoming fatigued, if not discouraged, by so many claims about being “Green.” It is obvious that many of the claims about the merits of products or programs are disingenuous at best and absolute falsifications at worst.
Please do not get the idea that I feel we should be wasteful. We all should be good stewards of the resources with which we have been entrusted. However, the whole concept of “Green” needs a substantial dose of reality to become more meaningful.
I will suggest a phrase, instead of a term, for the dose of reality: “Do it right; once.” If this phrase is followed appropriately, it results in the highest possible efficiency.
Let’s break down this phrase a bit.
- Do – Should we do something or not? Should a new building be built, or should an old building be renovated? Can several facilities be consolidated into one more efficient facility? Optimally, an owner is led through these decisions by a skilled architect during the programming stage of a project. If we get the Do part correct, we are well on our way to a successful and needed project.
- It – Every project has a multitude of things that must be accomplished in order for the project to be successful and utilize the resources appropriately. Let me give you an example of how a small improvement could save many resources. Often, subcontractors and material suppliers receive revised contract drawings without any indication of what changes have been made. Therefore, all material suppliers and subcontractors are forced to print out a new set of full contract drawings to ensure that their scope of work has not changed. If the contract drawings were accompanied with a schedule that listed the changes and what drawings are affected, then the individual sheets could be printed and much time, paper, and printing supplies could be saved.
- Right – What is the correct thing to do? There are appropriate decisions to be made on product selection, building details to be chosen, construction sequencing and many more decisions that certainly affect the amount and type of resources that will be chosen for a project. A simple example is the type of product to be chosen for a wall. A wall material may cost 50% more than a competing product, but it requires almost no maintenance compared to the competing product. Which product is Green? This is not always an easy calculation, but in order to do the Right thing, a thoughtful study should be conducted.
- Once – With proper study, planning, and attention to detail, mistakes can be avoided and resources saved. For example, if proper field dimensions are taken, wall panels are made once. If improper field dimensions are taken, wall panels must be made twice, transported twice, improper panels must be disposed, packing materials must be disposed, etc.
As stated previously, “Do It Right; Once”, is a “Green” approach to building construction upon which we can rely. It not only saves resources, it has the potential to make us some money and that is pretty green also.
Tool of the Week, Day, etc. – You can find The Green Glossary – environmental terms explained at http://lifegoggles.com/652/the-green-glossary-environmental-terms-explained/.
That is it for today. Post your comments on the Blog and let us stimulate the discussion.
Ted S. Miller