Building Industry Magazine - April 2012 - (Page 24)
Earth Day, Every Day
Not surprisingly, when we did an informal poll asking contractors if and how they commemorated Earth Day, held on April 22, most of them said they didn’t. Does that mean the industry is insensitive about environmental issues? Definitely, not. Just the opposite in fact...
When it was first founded in 1970, Earth Day was about putting environmental concerns front and center. Since then, although there is still much that can be done, significant strides have been made toward being more environmentally responsible, including within the building industry itself. With the new and emerging materials, standards and construction methods, green building is not a one-time occurrence but something to be practiced every day. “I am encouraged by the efforts of many of Hawaii’s construction companies who embrace environmentally conscious practices and promote healthy environments by building things right, the first time,” says Ryan Rutenschroer, chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, Hawaii chapter’s Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) Committee. “This includes erecting strong, durable structures that last, thus leading to long life cycles and reduced maintenance
costs. It also includes carefully planning and executing construction details for high-performance and energy-efficiency, thus reducing ongoing operation costs and further prolonging the building’s life cycle. And, it means using materials that have been sustainability harvested and processed in a manner that is easier on the environment.”
For those businesses wondering where to start, Eila Algood of Algood Living LLC, a distributor of American Clay products, recommends first increasing the use of environmentally friendly products, starting with the structure; for example, Algood recently helped build a community room of bamboo that also utilized blue jean insulation, denim cutoffs converted into batting. Second is changing the way discarded construction is handled. “Everyone by now should know the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle,” adds Rutenschroer. “In construction, this
includes taking the extra care to use materials most efficiently to eliminate waste. With the especially high cost of these materials in Hawaii, taking the time to plan and cut down on mistakes and re-work can add up to significant savings. Salvaging, restoring and re-deploying perfectly good materials on-site (when possible) or from another Hawaii building not only saves in material costs, but reduces the demand for virgin resources and a lot of embodied energy. Embodied energy is all of the fuel energy used to extract, produce and transport materials from source to site. Because of our islands’ unique geographic location in the central Pacific, our embodied energy costs are huge. … A lot of construction companies are setting up a system to sort discarded construction material in order to limit the burden on our islands’ incinerators and landfills.”
Both Algood and Rutenschroer admit not everyone in the industry is embracing green building. “I think there is still a lot of skepticism regarding the amount of time, energy, and outlay required to pursue LEEDcertification, and other green building standards,” Rutenschroer says. “That is why I want to point out in particular the aspect of significantly reduced life cycle, maintenance and operations costs that can result from making the investment to do the right thing.” To those who are resistant, Algood says, “I would encourage them to open their minds and be willing to learn new technologies and new ways of doing things. There is a lot out there. People really need to be willing to change, that’s what it really comes down to. It takes a little more effort but it’s the right thing to do.” BI
This community room in Hawi on the Big Island was built with fast-growing bamboo and also utilizes blue jean batting for insulation.
24 | BUILDING INDUSTRY | APRIL 2012
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Building Industry Magazine - April 2012
Bridges & Roadwork
Renovation & Remodeling
Lumber & Wood
ABC Installs New Leadership
AIA Celebrates Architecture Month
Armstrong Earns Accolades
Aiea to Get New Library
HART Confirms Grabauskas as Director
Spotlight on Success: Whole Foods Market, Kailua
Concept to Completion: Walmart Kapolei
Company Showcase: Valve Service & Supply, Inc.
Building Industry Magazine - April 2012