What to Look for When Hiring an Eco-Friendly Construction Contractor

Posted on March 17, 2015


Building a new home or business has always been an exciting venture with plenty of decisions to make each step along the way. But more than ever, whatever the final purpose of the structure might be, it is important that the building functions both economically as well as ecologically. This means making a point to hire an ecologically-focused construction contractor that will use the right building strategies and the right materials so the end result is as green and economical as possible.

A Contractor in the Know

The construction industry is constantly changing.  It has become far more involved than understanding how to use your basic hammer and saw. New techniques are continually being developed and trends are derived from these techniques, with many centered around making new buildings both structurally sound and easy on the environment.

Years ago, building “green” meant that a builder needed to invest a lot more money in their project, but as these building techniques and materials have gained popularity, they have also become more economical to build. Once a building is completed, the savings continue since energy bills are lower than they are in a building of a comparable size where provisions were not made to go “green.”

Before hiring a contractor, it is important to sit down and talk about the different options that will result in an eco-friendly structure. See what the contractor can suggest, and don’t be afraid to do a little of your own research and add your own input into the mix. For example, rebar projects have become more popular because it combines the strength of concrete with the initial stability of steel, leaving the final project less vulnerable to cracking and shifting with weather changes.

“Green” contractors need to be fully vetted before they begin, which means it is not enough for them to sound smart; they should be able to provide evidence of their experience through references and portfolios of the work they have done in the past. Double check the certifications of the main contractor as well as any subcontractors they plan to work  on your project. They should also care enough about the ecological benefits of what they build to transfer that concern into their own lives by recycling or finding other ways to save energy in their personal lives.

Choosing the Right Eco-Friendly Materials

Because the bottom line is always a major consideration for any business, the commercial construction industry tends to lead the charge when it comes to eco-friendly materials. If the project is new or just being renovated, using sustainable materials  should be considered in every structure from top to bottom.

Roof Options

There are chemical-free roofing materials that are becoming increasingly popular due to their longevity and low instance of waste. With these materials, contractors are able to incorporate them in such a way as to reduce the need for the building to run using a traditional power source yet retain pleasing design elements.

Sustainable Floors

The flooring in a modern commercial building is also something that is chosen for its green factor. Using natural and sustainable materials such as bamboo and recycled wood is one of the more common ways that this is manifested. But even when it appears that the materials are not as natural, there are often eco-friendly strategies firmly in place. Wood laminates are put together using particles not used in other wood flooring production, and even carpet tiles are put together with recycled materials, such as water bottles. Besides reusing materials, the floor itself is easier to sustain because the flooring can always be replaced one tile at a time, rather than needing to replace the whole floor.

Everything in Between

Insulation is a key component to keep any building energy efficient, and more care is given to this area of construction to assure that materials are healthy for construction workers as well as anyone who spends time in the building once it is completed. One trend actually uses plants along the walls both inside and outside the building to increase insulation and lower heating costs.

Of course, a building is more than a box. In order to function, it requires plumbing and electrical fixtures and there are many options that will make everything in the building run more smoothly. Newer “smart” fixtures have motion detectors that will cause them to turn off when they are not in use.

This can be implemented with plumbing as well with faucets that turn off after a short period of time. Low flow toilets can also be installed to cut down on water usage. The more these things are automated, the less building occupants need to be concerned with shutting things off when they leave a certain area of the building or go home for the day.

Building green has become the standard mind-set with products and materials that are easily available at affordable price.