Ever-changing regulations surrounding environmental policy require contractors to re-examine business practices on a regular basis. Unfortunately, contractors are left to interpret a great deal of industry regulations on their own. Among these confounding regulations are those concerning environmental protection.
Guest blogger, Kirsten Bradley, working to educate professionals and their lawyers about construction industry regulations in the USA has the following advice … and although USA focused, these tips make good sense elsewhere …
Once contractors have worked their way through the legal jargon found in many environmental policies, they might feel overwhelmed about what exactly their responsibilities are. Fortunately, however, a number of services and products have been created to help eco-friendly contractors.
The National Association of Home Builders plans to roll out the first and only national ratings standard for remodeled homes this year. Contact them for more information on how green products will affect ratings. (In the UK we wait for the Green Deal installers’ Code of Practice and a Publicly Available Specification (PAS) for the retrofitting of energy efficiency measures in domestic and non-domestic buildings)
- Taking advantage of tax credits and other applicable programs, contractors can offset some of the additional costs they might incur by using eco-efficient approaches to building.
- Enroll in green building event, training seminars and/or certification programs. (For example, the U.S. Green Building Council backs the LEEDHomes Raters program Home Raters are qualified to assess the degree to which a home has been constructed according to accepted standards of environmental sustainability)
- Educate yourselves. Sign up for REGREEN, a program that distributes information about how to build green on a smaller scale. The U.S. Green Building Council partnered with The American Society of Interior Designers Foundation to create REGREEN, the first countrywide green residential remodeling manual for existing homes
- If you think your customers don’t know or care about green building initiatives, think again. A February 2011 poll of Angie’s List members found that 50% of respondents plan to include green building elements in their home this year, but first they want to learn more. Educate yourself so that you will be able to educate your customer and market your services better.
- According to some estimates, existing homes account for 94% of buildings in the U.S. The average age of these homes is 30 years, which means they often have drafty doors and windows as well as poorly insulated walls, attics and crawl spaces. Additionally, these properties are responsible for 21% of the nation’s carbon emissions. Herein lies a huge profit opportunity for contractors who educate themselves on green remodeling and market themselves to the right crowd.
- Look at purchasing a green performance bond for your projects in addition to required contractor license bonds . Clients prefer working with professional contractors who are licensed and bonded because they appreciate the extra layer of financial protection
- For smaller projects, check out the Habitat for Humanity ReStore as a resource. ReStore resale outlets sell reusable and surplus building materials to the public at low costs. Merchandise at the restore is especially good for home remodeling projects
- Draw up window plans that take full advantage of passive solar energy and help maintain proper indoor temperature. Contractors should always verify that all windows are strategically placed in beneficial locations. This is a great example of implementing inexpensive, eco-conscious design that has a real impact on sustainability.
- The cost of renewable products like solar platforms decreases as the technology gains traction with the buying public. Installing new products in today’s construction projects will play a large role in increasing eco-friendly building and, in turn, drive down costs.
- Consider that building a completely new structure using eco-friendly processes might be easier and cheaper than retro-fitting an existing structure that has inherent design flaws.
Contractors who take advantage of green building will not only save money over the long haul, but also promote health benefits from building structures without toxic, energy-wasting materials.
What do you do – do you have any tips for improving green build?
Kirsten Bradley is working to educate professionals and their lawyers about construction industry regulations through SuretyBonds with a special interest in helping contractors access more green building resources. Follow Kirsten on twitter @suretybond