Contractor's Role During Construction Phase

Sustainable building projects are rapidly growing by leaps and bounds. Sustainable building accounts for more than one-third of all nonresidential design and construction and will grow to more than one-half of all construction within the next five years according to the “Workforce and Green Jobs Study” done by McGraw-Hill Construction. The same study also revealed that the sustainable building market currently supports 661,000 jobs in the United States, which represents one-third of the design and construction workforce.

The contractor is a key player in these sustainable construction projects from predesign and design, through construction and closeout.

As the third part in our “Contractor’s Role in Sustainability” series, this article focuses on the importance of the contractor during the construction phase of a sustainable construction project. The contractor’s role during this fundamental stage can make or break a commercial project’s success.

Project Kick-Off Meeting

When the construction phase begins, the team must be pulled together and understand the differences that exist when working as a LEED project team versus a non-LEED team.

The Project Manager or Construction Manager attends a Project Kick-Off Meeting which includes the owner, contractors, sub-contractors and stakeholders. At this meeting (or the next), the LEED AP or Sustainability Project Manager introduces sustainability and LEED as it applies to the construction process to all contractors through an interactive presentation. At this meeting, each LEED construction credit (credits that are marked as construction submittals under the LEED rating system) applicable to the project is assigned to a team member who accepts responsibility for implementing, monitoring and documenting applicable credit information throughout the construction process.

Project Progress Meetings, Scope Verification and Documentation

Throughout the construction phase progress meetings provide excellent avenues for the project team to discuss outstanding items, identify problem areas, if any, provide LEED documentation updates and perform sustainability scope verification.

A contractor could make these meetings more sustainable by hosting on-line site meetings and/or sending meetings electronically (to avoid unnecessary travel and printing).

Project Closeout, Final Documentation, Training and Lessons Learned

As the construction phase progresses the commissioning agent works with the MEP contractor to make sure all systems and building components are installed and operate per project specifications. This presents a contractor with the opportunity to implement corrective measures to rectify problem areas.

In addition, the contractor provides operations and maintenance training for the building staff and users on how to effectively use various building systems. The contractor also submits all LEED documentation at this stage for review and provides clarifications if required.

Last, but not least, a good sustainability project wraps up with a lessons-learned session where project stakeholders exchange the lessons they learned from this project and what they might do differently to make a positive impact on their next sustainability endeavour.

More on construction closeout will be covered in the final article in this four-part series. Look for “Contractor’s Role During Construction Closeout” in our Spring 2013 issue.

To read the full story, click here to download the Winter 2012 issue of Sustainable Construction.