Outside of design, construction is a huge part of sustainability, according to Adelman. She says collaboration with the construction company and contractors is a must. Erosion and sedimentation controls need to be in place.
“Making sure that the least amount of disturbance that is possible for the site and the surrounding areas and to the water shed, and along with that communicating with the contractor what the goals are,” Adelman says. “They need to be able to understand where this project, where the client wants it to go, what we’re trying to accomplish.”
It’s important to have goals set ahead of construction about what percentage of materials needs to be recycled. To monitor this, Adelman suggests having someone onsite who can police the recycling effort in addition to sorting bins that are clearly labeled. This makes it easier for the contractors to get on board.
Adelman also points out that monitoring materials to be used in construction is important. Be sure to keep materials protected from water. Water damage can promote mold growth later on she says.
Taylor suggests considering selling materials from the construction site for reuse. “For example, let’s say they are tearing up roadway and driveway areas, they might make a contract with someone to come in and pulverize that and use it for building materials for a completely unrelated building project. Same thing with asphalt with the recycling instead of bringing in new petrol chemicals, you just recycle it right on the site through a mechanical process that recycles it and goes through, it gets re-characterized as new asphalt but it is old asphalt that has been reconstituted,” he says.
Or, materials from the site can be repurposed for part of the project, Beachy suggests. “What we’re doing [on one project] is taking some of those materials and actually reusing them elsewhere in the site. We’re trying to reduce the number of materials actually taken off the site. You look for ways you can reduce anything taken off the site,” he says.
Sustainability doesn’t stop once the project wraps. It’s important to have a plan and goals for the future in place.
“Sustainability is about that continual improvement process and it really is a journey. It’s not just one stop and you’re done,” says Kerr Adler. “It’s about long-term commitment and a broad definition, not how one organization applied sustainability or defines, it might be a little different to another organization and that’s OK. Figure out what your goals are and objectives and there’s a whole slew of resources that will help take you there.”