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By: Kevin Ahern on October 23rd, 2013

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3 Sustainable Building Practices You Can’t Ignore

Commercial | commercial remodeling | going green | sustainability | sustainable building

In the modern commercial construction industry there is a major focus on sustainability. The benefits of this focus can be seen on three fronts: economic, environmental, and social. While there are dozens of methods that can be applied, there are three important sustainable building practices that should not be ignored.

Construction Waste Recycling

From metals and woods to concrete, construction waste comes in many forms, but fortunately, each of these can be reused if properly prepared and segregated.

Some estimates show that construction waste accounts for several billion tons entering landfills each year. By recycling at least 50 percent of waste generated on site, you can reduce your waste removal costs, recoup funds, and ensure the availability of raw materials for future green building projects.

In Connecticut, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) requires contractors to recycle corrugated cardboard, all scrap metals, along with Ni-Cd and lead acid batteries among other items.

Construction Site Stormwater Practices

Stormwater runoff is a natural process that raises concerns for sustainability. Construction often redirects the water flow, frequently in a detrimental way. When a site is cleared for a project, erosion control becomes a concern as it drives runoff and sediment pollution.

The best way to protect the local ground water is to implement an extensive stormwater protocol. This protocol for sustainability needs to include a combination of employee training, both direct employees and subcontractors, and site preparation.

Employee training should include the identification of storm drains, swales, and creeks near the site so that no one dumps pollutants into or near them. Storm drain inlets should be covered if pollutants could runoff into them.

Employees should store all materials under cover and hazardous waste should to be stored in sealed drums or covered bins for proper disposal.

Site preparation may include the digging of retention ponds and the planned redirection of storm runoff.  Other considerations need to include limited removal of trees and natural flora in the area. Leaving old growth in place reduces soil erosion and as helps to limit changes in stormwater runoff.

Incorporating Recycled Materials During Construction

Incorporating recycled materials into new construction projects is an excellent way to reduce your waste stream. Starting from the ground up, foundation and flooring for your project can be altered to increase savings and reduce energy.

When pouring concrete, why not incorporate flyash? Flyash, a byproduct of coal burning power plants, can be used to replace between 15 and 50 percent of cement, depending on the usage and state regulations. You can also use an aggregate made of crushed construction debris as backfill and drainage material near foundations.

Other construction materials that include a great deal of recycled content are interior steel studs, engineered wood products, reclaimed wood, and reclaimed overhead doors. To ensure that you are using a sustainable wood product, be sure to check for certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

As raw material reserves dwindle, the importance of sustainable building techniques becomes more self-evident. Connecticut has many regulations that relate to sustainable building techniques.

Always work with an established and trusted commercial contractors to ensure that all specific codes and regulations are met.  Litchfield Builders is a highly respected company with over 20 years of experience in commercial contracting in Connecticut. 

For more reading material on this topic, you can check out our free guide: Sustainability & Green Building in Commercial Construction.

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