Take 'green' steps to become a considerate contractor

Green buildings! Green houses! Green hospitals! It seems like everything is going green without having any connection to the Irish! Well, building "green" has become a 21st century requirement for many industries. It only seemed right that in time the green phenomenon would invade the contractor.

With more and more clients considering their green options in every facet of their lives, it would be beneficial for you to incorporate a few of the following "green" initiatives into your company to show your clients that you're not only considerate of Mother Nature, but considerate of your customers, too.

1. 'Green' equipment and vehicles. This requires you to ensure that all of your powered equipment is tuned, burning fuels as clean as possible and meeting all local or national standards. Not only does this effort help you to minimize any more pollutants than necessary, it also makes financial sense. Poorly running equipment due to little to no regular maintenance normally leads to excessive costs.

2. Clean means 'green.' There is nothing more upsetting to customers than to see dirty trucks hauling even dirtier trailers while sending a never-ending supply of black smoke out its exhaust. Certainly dirty vehicles due to oil and grease leaks do eventually drop onto the ground or pavement. While the actual damage done to our environment might be over-exaggerated, the appearance nonetheless sends a less than clean and quality signal to our customers.

3. Organize storage vehicles and work sites. All tools and equipment should be organized when in storage or on a jobsite. Not only does this send a signal to customers that your company is "neat" and quality based, it also drives greater respect among your workers to handle your tools and equipment with greater respect and care.

4. Considerate parking. You want to drive customers crazy? Just try parking your vehicles on their lawn (if you perform residential work) or in no-parking areas. Doing so can not only turn customers against you, it sends a signal that your company doesn't care about the property of others, which reinforces the image that you might be willing to do other not-so-considerate things.

5. Clean jobsites every day. This can be tough for contractors who might spend days, weeks, even months on the same project. However, if you want to win the hearts of customers then place trash bins in more than one location, and hold your workers accountable to using the bins.

Additionally, go the extra step to have your crews do a thorough clean-up at the end of each work day. This will not be easy to sell, but you've got to remember that image is almost everything. No matter who contributes the trash, have your crews pick it up each day. Invest in extra trash sacks and pay one or more of your workers to be the "clean-up czars."

6. Identify and document loading and unloading areas. If you are a commercial contractor you are normally aware of drawings that have identified areas on the prints where loading/unloading is to be conducted. Remember, if there is no designation where to load or unload then ask your customer where such efforts should or need to be done.

7. Keep containers closed and secured. It is important to keep any container, chemical additives, oil drums, etc. all closed. Even if the material in a container is not toxic or hazardous, passersby don't know the difference and often assume the worst.

8. Maintain up-to-date and legal 'certification.' This challenges us to be sure to have all of our registrations and certifications for our vehicles, tools, materials, etc. to be legal, properly tagged, and every other requirement that we might need to meet. Remember, out-of-date tags and licenses send the message that you may not manage your resources close enough to comply with mandatory and protective laws.

9. Look to use 'green' resources whenever possible. This too can be tough to execute, but look at new technologies that may pollute less or raise your public exposure to being environmentally sensitive. This might include the type of vehicles your estimators or sales people drive (i.e. Hybrid vehicles) to recycling oil or reclaiming materials. This entire effort will no doubt be growing and expanding as our nation continues to look for ways to "clean up" the environment.

10. Plan ahead to be organized in performing work. Many of the items already mentioned could be more easily employed if more contractors sat down and planned their week and projects. By failing to plan, you set your crews up to make unwise decisions, often decisions that waste material, fuel, or cause damage to equipment or property. By planning ahead, you strengthen the effort to do many things right the first time, thus presenting and executing a more quality and green-sensitive result.

Don't be "green challenged." There is little doubt the future for construction will require us all to become more environmentally sensitive.

If you have already moved in this direction, congratulations. If you have not, you would be wise to begin looking at incorporating such ideas and tips listed above. Starting now just may position you to be a more desirable contractor by customers who may be required to contract with those businesses who meet the expanding requirements of a "green construction society."

Brad Humphrey is President of Pinnacle Development Group, a consulting firm specializing in assisting construction companies in profitable growth. For more information about Brad's firm please visit www.pinnacledg.com .

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