Green Steps Will Lead to Higher Profits

Our cover story on Webcor Concrete explains how a company’s efforts to be sustainable have resulted in less waste and more opportunities to build with concrete. The company is a great example of why contractors need to examine sustainable construction trends and look for ways they can start incorporating them into their own businesses and jobsites.

Start small by looking for changes that will reduce waste. That will always save you money by decreasing the amount of items you need to purchase in the first place. In the case of jobsite materials, less waste means less to dispose of at the end of a job. Reducing waste can be as simple as eliminating paper coffee cups in the office and encouraging everyone to use reusable coffee mugs. It can also mean investing in a reusable forming system or purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles for your company.

Greening a warehouse

Webcor Concrete’s parent company, Webcor Builders, recently made changes to a 37,000-square-foot storage facility to reduce energy waste. These efforts resulted in a reduction of the warehouse energy bill from $2,500 per month to $500 per month. Here’s what they did:

  • The indoor lighting was upgraded to six-lamp, 32-watt T8 units and set to motion controls. Additionally, Webcor Builders rearranged its warehouse so its most frequently used items are near the front the building, minimizing the number of lights that turn on when someone walks into the facility.
  • The outdoor lighting system was improved by installing energy-efficient light bulbs and facing the bulbs downward instead of upward.
  • Solar panels on the roof offset the building’s energy usage.
  • Installed a tankless water heater.

How to go green

Here are some tips from the folks I spoke with at Webcor Concrete on ways contractors can start greening their concrete operations:

  • Work with design engineers to look at ways to reduce the overall amount of concrete used in your projects. Some buildings are over designed. Reducing the thickness of walls, slabs, decks or columns by an inch, or even a half an inch, can result in considerable material savings throughout a building.
  • Work with ready-mix suppliers and engineers to maximize the use of supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) when appropriate.
  • Start tracking formwork lumber and plywood and create a system to maximize reuse from job to job. Using higher-quality MDO and HDO plywood might cost more up front, but can result in long-term savings because of its higher reuse rate.

What green efforts has your company taken in recent years that have helped you reduce waste and increase profits? Email me about them at Rebecca.Wasieleski@cygnus.com.

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