Polished concrete floors are becoming increasingly popular because of their green aspects. With polished concrete floors, no carpet, tile, or adhesives are needed. They tend to require less maintenance than other floor surfaces as well. And, they can contribute toward LEED certification, Kevin Johnson points out. The polished concrete flooring business has taken off so well for K Johnson Construction that the company started a separate polished concrete division just for that service.
Decorative concrete is getting into the act as well. Colorado Hardscapes has developed a cast-in-place decorative concrete finish called Sandscape Texture. "It is a more sustainable finish option compared to the traditional acid washing, plus it provides more consistency," Van Heukelem says. The company also installs Grasscrete as an option for controlling stormwater runoff.
Both traditional and decorative concrete can contribute toward achieving LEED points and certification. Whether or not your project is working toward attaining LEED certification, using locally produced products and aggregates is yet another way to make your concrete services green. Using local products requires less driving, less fuel and less vehicle emissions.
Concrete contractors can get more involved in LEED by becoming LEED accredited. According to the United States Green Building Council, LEED accredited professionals "have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and familiarity with LEED requirements, resources and processes."
"I started studying to become a LEED AP from a marketing standpoint," Van Heukelem says. "But the more I dove into the benefits and common sense of sustainable construction the more I believed in it from a best practices standpoint."
Contractors can also take steps to make their businesses and business practices green. Simple steps like changing to energy-efficient lighting and carpooling can help a business be greener. "We try to limit our electrical use by keeping lights off in areas that are seldom used, and we have censored lights in the rest rooms so they are only on when someone is using them," Scott Johnson says.
Webcor subsidizes 100 percent of all employees' public transit expenses to further incentivize reducing the jobsite carbon footprint and also pays for employees' cycling expenses to further promote alternative transportation, Huang says.
Setting up a recycling program at the office helps, too. Some contractors, like T.B. Penick, may also try to go paperless.
For contractors who want to go a step further, Johnson suggests researching alternative energy methods. K Johnson Construction has done some preliminary research into using both solar power and wind energy to power its office.
Lee suggests contractors just get involved whether it is with sustainable services or just getting involved in local green industry groups or attending seminars to learn more. "Those who get on board with green now will have more opportunities in the future," Lee says.
Whatever sustainable initiatives concrete contractors decide to pursue, Huang says they should look at sustainability holistically and not just piece by piece. Contractors should not only work on being more sustainable in both their field and office operations but also look at affecting positive green change within their communities and even their supply chain, he adds.