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Yesterday was Earth Day, a yearly mark that is growing in significance around the world.  It is a time for us to understand the issues about our impact on the environment.  I am not going to get into the politics (and yes there are a lot of politics around Earth Day) about the environment, but would like to talk about the impacts to us in construction.

As most of us are aware, there has been a growing movement surrounding LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) in the construction industry.  You cannot work on a governmental projects today without being impacted by the LEED design requirements.  Local and federal governments are typically requiring a LEED Silver Certification on their facilities.  The LEED certification has a larger impact on designers, but don't be fooled it creates additional requirements on construction companies and the bulk of the weight for compliance is borne by the subcontractors. 

If your Project Managers and Estimators are not LEED accredited, you should get them accredited as soon as possible.  Visit the US Green Building Council for additional details on how.  An additional benefit of Accreditation is that you have a new marketing approach for new work.

The impacts of the "Earth Day Movement" are not going away and in my opinion are only starting.  When looking at popular opinion, political pressure, and other countries it is a fair assessment that we are beginning a journey down the road of tougher environmental policies. 

The most important impact of the regulations that will be coming and in some cases are already impacted with be the cost of energy.  The most successful approach to curbing "bad" environmental practices is to make them economically difficult.  If you look at Colorado, which recently passed a law that will take power plants from utilizing coal to natural gas you can see a small example of where we are going.  At the current time coal is much cheaper per unit to produce electricity so the cost of power will increase.  For construction, that means more energy efficient designs.  The cost payback for installing solar cells just got a lot more attractive.  Since natural gas will be in more demand, the heat recovery options for boiler and heating systems becomes more economical.

I am confident that similar moves are coming to other states and possibly nationally under EPA rules and guidelines.  These rules will change the way existing buildings are operated and obviously the way new buildings are built.

If you are trying to figure out where your company should be going, look at the big picture and be confident that the environmental movement is a part of the big picture.  If you can get out ahead of the market and provide training and services that are consistent with that, then you will become an industry leader.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through