By now, we should all know how important it is to run our building operations as sustainably as possible. It’s not just good for the planet. Many sustainability measures can result in cost savings, either immediately or over the long term. Here are 7 things that you can implement on your jobsites to improve your sustainability.
Follow the three Rs
The order of the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – is intentional. Start by reducing what your jobs consume. Rather than cutting a fresh 2x4 for some bracing, stockpile some larger offcuts for future use.
Ripping out a brand-new kitchen or bathroom that was installed for a flip? If you or the client are not interested in reselling those items, consider donating salvageable materials to an organization like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore outlets.
Finally, recycle as much product packaging as you can and store aggregate waste until you have a pile that can be dropped off for use as clean fill.
A tidy, organized jobsite is not only a safe one – it’s a sustainable one. Loosely stacked piles of material are at risk of falling and causing damage to their surface – or other finished surfaces. With a messy jobsite, it’s also harder to keep track of tools and materials that need to be sheltered from the weather.
Switch to electric
Today’s cordless tools have as much or more power as their gas- or compressor-powered cousins. This not only makes them more convenient to use, it eliminates exhaust fumes from your site – and the environment. When it’s time to replace your power tools, switch to electric.
Invest in your equipment
Take the time to properly clean your tools at the end of the day so you don’t have to replace them early. Think of those cement-encrusted shovels or grease-smeared hand tools that no one wants to use. You should also regularly clean or replace the filters on your power tools to prolong their lifespan.
Order from sustainable suppliers
You do your homework when determining which suppliers you use in terms of quality, cost and availability of materials. You should also factor in your suppliers’ commitment to sustainability.
Shouldice Stone has implemented a number of sustainability measures, including repairing and reusing the skids our products are shipped on, swapping out gas-powered forklifts for electric ones, and treating and reusing nearly 20-million gallons of water a year used in stone cutting operations. We also source 90 per cent of the materials we use to create our products from within 25 km of our production facility in Shallow Lake, Ontario.
Use durable materials
The most sustainable materials are those that are long lasting and require little to no ongoing maintenance. Encourage your clients to invest a little bit more money upfront for long-term savings.
A steel roof, for example, costs more to install than standard asphalt shingles, but a steel roof will last two to three times as long. In fact, some come with 40- or 50-year warranties.
When it comes to the exterior façade, nothing is more durable than masonry. Shouldice stone and brick products are available in array of patterns and styles to suit any design, from classic to contemporary.
Prefab is pretty fab
Every aspect of modular – also known as prefab – construction lends itself to sustainability, including the CAD designs and precision cutting equipment that minimize waste. Construction in a climate-controlled environment also protects the materials from the ravages of the weather – not to mention the workers. Of course, builders love that the onsite framing can be completed in a single day, reducing labour costs and waste.
As you spend your day building the places across the country that Canadians call home, think about the steps you can take to help protect the one home we all share: planet Earth.