Tips of the Sustainable Trade

Knowing the kinds of construction practices expected to contribute to vital points for a project seeking green certification can differentiate the value a contractor brings to the table. Contractors with knowledge and experience using these practices will be highly sought after by building owners and facility managers who wish to achieve LEED certification

Choose to reuse

The reuse of building materials reduces the demand for virgin materials and reduces waste, thereby reducing the impact of extraction and processing of virgin resources.

This applies to individual components of a sustainable project including incoming material and materials salvaged from on-site deconstruction, demolition or renovation.

Choose materials wisely

The intent of any sustainable project is to divert construction, demolition and land clearing debris from landfill disposal, prevent waste, and reuse and recycle materials.

Purchase salvaged, recycled or recycled content materials and equipment.

Have a plan in place

Delivery only the required amount of material to the jobsite (JIT ordering and delivery).

Practice material storage and handling that prevents loss and damage. All materials and waste must be accounted for.

Meet frequently (Integrated Process Design meetings) and talk to others before the job starts. Maintain a good working relationship with other contractors and subcontractors.

Read and follow the specifications carefully.

A contractor’s responsibilities on LEED projects vary from project to project. It can vary a large extent depending on how the project specifications are developed.

Pollution prevention

Given the wide range of possible sites (from urban to rural) it is necessary to assess each for its own requirements. Protect sensitive areas by following the setbacks and fencing off out-of-bounds areas, streams and waterways.

Minimize staging

Minimize staging area requirements for delivery and placement to reduce site disturbance and protect vegetation. Size equipment appropriately for the job. Bring in assembly-required equipment already assembled.

Lock it up

Lock the Dumpsters and properly label receptacles. It sounds simple, but it’s difficult to keep unwanted materials from making their way into dumpsters if they aren’t locked.

Green it up

Specify and use preconsumer and post-consumer recycled materials.

Preconsumer recycled content is based on waste from industrial and manufacturing processes and doesn’t include scrap or trimmings.

Post-consumer recycled content is based on waste generated from households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities.

Recycled Content Value = (%Post-consumer recycled content x material cost) + 0.50 (%Preconsumer recycled content x material cost)

Find it within 500 miles or closer

Be mindful and responsible where products are sourced. Support the use of indigenous resources and reduce environmental impacts resulting from transportation.

Provide the correct documentation to the LEED consultant including the material product name, cost of material, location of manufacture and location of extraction

Don’t light up

Construction sites might have a designated smoking area or it might be prohibited completely. Understand how smoking on the site impacts the LEED prerequisite. It sounds simple, but it can be a deal breaker.

If using wooden forms … take the FSC road

And don’t forget the Chain of Custody (COC)!

Wood-based materials and products include (but are not limited to): structural framing, general dimensional framing, flooring, furnishings and non-rented temporary construction applications such as bracing and formwork.

FSC wood will be marked with a stamp. Pick up the COC certificate and forward it to the general contractor or LEED professional.

Dustless and odorless

Use the right tools. Avoid creating dust from saw cutting interiorly. Exhaust fumes from idling equipment and gasoline-fueled tools should be vented using funnels or temporary piping.

Don’t blow the VOC budget

Follow the emission limits for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and other relevant chemicals in the California South Coast Air Quality Management District rule #1168 and Grean Seal. Remember to retain product data and MSDS sheets of materials used on-site for documentation. Don’t substitute materials and have three alternates for every material.

To read the full story, click here to download the Summer 2013 issue of Sustainable Construction.