Things You Can Do Today for More Sustainable Construction

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Construction sites are increasingly “green” from a sustainable perspective. This is partly due to consumer demand but also due to the energy, materials and money savings companies can achieve by incorporating sustainable construction methods. Not everything “green” requires a big investment by your company. Following are techniques you can put into practice now that will enable your company to contribute to the sustainable construction movement.

Concrete recycling; image: ArchDaily.com
  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – Reducing waste is becoming more achievable for contractors as technology enables them to more exactly quantify the materials needed and schedule delivery dates to coincide with the timeframe they’ll be needed. To reduce inputs, a software tool like Autodesk Takeoff helps quantify materials and do estimates.

During remodel projects, asphalt, concrete and rubble can be reused. In addition, there are more choices for components made from recycled materials: bricks and blocks, lumber, plastics, metal, and glass.

Recycled construction materials, Arch Daily; image: NY Engineers

It’s easier than ever to source green materials, including bamboo, adobe, stone, and cork. For added sustainability, architects and contractors can save on transportation costs by specifying more locally-sourced construction materials.

  1. Cleaner Construction Site – Polluted stormwater runoff has been a concern on large infrastructure projects like highways and bridges for decades. Municipal building departments are now taking action to improve the quality of water leaving construction sites and headed for sewage treatment or straight to rivers. Even when not mandated, contractors can install features – like knobby mats at entrances/exits of construction sites – to abate muddy runoff.
Trackout control mat; image: StartSafety.com

Learn about change in the construction industry and how it is shaping the way construction projects get built in the free Applied Software eBook “Ultimate Construction Tech Stack.”


  1. Water and Energy Conservation – Companies are eschewing wasteful practices because they also waste money. For that reason, many have undertaken lean initiatives. These might include advance planning, striving for continuous improvement, fine-tuning the scheduling of equipment, ensuring work is completed correctly the first time, standardization, and collaboration among teams during the entire project. Autodesk Build project management software helps with planning, setting priorities, communication, and accountability.
  2. Prefabrication – Moving construction to a controlled environment, where much of a structure can be built, enables better oversight and safety, improves quality, and results in fewer wasted materials. Prefab, particularly among mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contractors, is already being used by more than half of respondents to a Dodge Data & Analytics survey  in 2020 on 10% or more of their projects.
Prefab; image: MedicalConstruction&DesignMagazine.com

Precise planning and timing of prefab using building information modeling (BIM) makes the use of lumber products more accurate. In a factory setting, MEP contractors can avoid weather-related problems when cutting and fitting sheet metal for ductwork or creating plumbing assemblies. Prefab components can be delivered to a project wrapped and ready to install. Similarly, 3D modeling enables concrete forms to be designed, prefabricated and delivered to a jobsite ready to use.

An increasing number of buyers care about sustainable practices in the built environment and want to work with building contractors who share that interest. When your company demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, you establish a competitive advantage that will bring you more work and more satisfied customers.