Energy Efficiency in the Construction Industry: Why It’s Essential

When you think of budgeting a construction project, the cost of labor, materials, and equipment often comes first. After all, these are what make it possible for the job to be completed as quickly as possible, and if you plan and manage things properly, you can stand to make a better profit.

How about energy consumption, though? You’re hyper-aware of the fuel price to run generators and machinery, but did you ever think about how reducing electrical use can play into profitability? Well, it does, and you can stand to benefit quite a bit by boosting your construction project’s energy efficiency.

What is energy efficiency in construction?

When you think of energy efficiency, shutting down appliances that aren’t in use and moving to bulbs that consume less energy is often what comes to mind. That’s because taking small steps like this reduces the amount of energy you waste in your home. Well, the same concept applies to construction sites.

On a sizeable project, there are a lot of ways to consume energy needlessly. For example, tools left plugged in, an excess of lighting, and charging equipment can ruin efficiency if they aren’t kept in check.

Things get a little more complicated as you consider the design of the project itself. The way a building is designed, what lights are used, and the layout of systems necessary to run it all directly impact energy efficiency.

In other words, using cordless tools whenever possible isn’t all there is to consider. Concerning yourself with efficiency can define the very nature of the project from start to finish and long after that.

Why are energy ratings necessary for construction?

As we said in the beginning, increasing energy efficiency is a great way to boost profitability. After all, a structure that consumes less energy provides substantial savings in terms of operation. That’s true for both the contractor and the owner of the building once construction has concluded. That’s not all that makes it essential, though.

Environmental factors are always important. You might not know that construction alone is responsible for a significant portion of the energy consumed on a global scale, and buildings are responsible for 40% of greenhouse gases produced due to the amount of energy they consume.

A building that consumes more energy is harder to keep running, and the same is true for any construction site that doesn’t manage energy consumption. The result is the stress placed on local power plants that must consume more resources to meet the demand placed on them.

These issues must be put in check sooner rather than later. The simple fact is that even if one or two projects only make minor contributions, they are steps toward the sustainable future we need to establish. 

Increasing energy efficiency is a great way to boost profitability.

Five ways to boost energy efficiency 

Aiming for a sustainable future means the long-term results are the most critical aspect of any building project. Below, you will find five things that will help the building consume the least energy possible.  

1. Building design

Perhaps the most significant way to reduce energy consumption is by designing the building properly. How it sits in relation to the sun, where the windows are located, the size of windows and doors all relate to how much power a building takes to run. Consider how these elements use natural lighting to their advantage and how they impact heating and cooling, and you’ll see how the right design can require less lighting and put less demand on HVAC systems.

2. Insulation 

Insulation has a relatively simple job. It’s there to keep heat or coolness out. As the design of the building can use lighting and natural heating or cooling to its advantage, proper use of insulation can amplify those effects. Perhaps you can consider this part of building design, but the right type of insulation is just as important as where it’s placed.

3. HVAC 

It’s no secret that heating and cooling is an important consideration. However, natural factors can only achieve so much. At some point, the HVAC system will need to start working. Thankfully, as time progresses, more and more efficient systems are being produced. By pairing the latest models with effective placement and ventilation design, you can dramatically lower the amount of energy this system consumes.

4. Lighting implementations 

As with heating and cooling, natural lighting will only get you so far. Interior and exterior lighting are necessary to breach the gap the sun can’t clear. By using LED and other low consumption lighting sources, you ensure the effort of installing those skylights and larger windows don’t go in vain.

5. Solar power 

Solar panels are expensive upfront. They do bring massive advantages to the table, though. They help to make the building less dependent on other energy sources. That’s going to lower the number of resources that are consumed to keep it running. Suppose you position solar panels properly and install a good number of them. In that case, they can also produce enough energy to help the power plant, reducing resource consumption to run other buildings. 

Are there other ways to promote efficiency? 

Cutting energy consumption during the construction process ultimately comes down to tight management and keeping up with maintenance. Making sure tools aren’t left plugged in, lights aren’t left running, and small things like that add up in the long run. That’s a no-brainer, though, and you’re probably already doing that anyway.

Something easy to overlook, however, is the condition of the equipment being used. Neglected power tools and machinery consume more energy during operation. However, keeping up with the internals and keeping the equipment clean can significantly reduce consumption.  

The most important takeaway is that the goal is to achieve a sustainable future. There’s no secret that our current lifestyles aren’t doing the people of tomorrow any favors. Construction is a significant contributor to this issue, and it’s essential we continuously reduce the impact with every last project. Simply making changes to the design and running the right equipment is all it takes to do that.

Have any questions? Reach out today to our trusted staff of environmental consultants.

Why You Should Work with a Company that Creates and Manages SWPPP Processes

Having everything on a construction site in check is essential for many reasons. It’s an excellent way to keep costs down, ensure a smooth process, and keep workers safe. However, some things are out of your control. That’s especially true when nature is a part of the factor.

A particular point of concern being rainwater.

You already know that the site disturbs the land around it. You can see that because vegetation, soil, and wildlife are naturally disrupted. What you might not consider, though, is how those changes impact the flow of rainwater.

An SWPPP, stormwater pollution prevention plan, is essential for many sites as the EPA demands it under certain conditions. If you’re not familiar with the process, you might consider hiring a company to build a plan for you. 

After all, they specialize in this area, and the money you spend to have someone else do it can dramatically outweigh the time you spend catching up with everything there is you need to know.

What is an SWPPP and what does it do?

As we said, any construction site disturbs the land around it and directly impacts the natural flow of stormwater. So while it might seem minor at first, even the slightest shift can lead to significant consequences for the land around you.

Disrupting water flow may seem insignificant, but quite a few negative scenarios can come of it. For one, it can cause flooding. This is because rainwater follows a natural path. It will either drain into a stream or nearby body of water or soak into the ground.

Placing a construction site in the middle of that path can prevent this from occurring. When it does, the water may begin to pull up or flow to another body of water that’s nearby. This can create excessive erosion, disturb the ecosystems, and even kill some wildlife. It might also flow into the stormwater drains that aren’t equipped to handle the amount of water coming from your site, flooding the streets and otherwise.

Think about where that sediment and debris are going. Don’t just think of erosion as trenches forming and vegetation being disturbed. That can flow into streams or drains, damming them up, leading to flooding. It might also be carried into town, covering the streets and clogging storm drains.

The other primary concern is that the water can collect contaminants. As it flows over hard surfaces or falls onto materials that should be covered up, the water will become polluted. Should that water reach a nearby stream or the groundwater, both the wildlife and people could be at risk.

An SWPPP prevents these issues. It will outline the BMPs (best management practices) that your site should implore. BMPs include coverage of outdoor storage, sediment track-out controls, inlet protection, and even landscaping details that help to keep rainwater under control and free of pollution.

An SWPPP, stormwater pollution prevention plan, is essential for many sites as the EPA demands it under certain conditions.

Who is responsible for SWPPP compliance?

Any time a project disturbs an acre of land or more, an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination) permit is required.  To receive this permit, an SWPPP must be submitted and approved. That means virtually any sizable commercial and many residential jobs are needed to build this plan.

It also doesn’t matter the nature of the facility. Whether it is a host of harmful chemicals or not isn’t important as the disruption of the land can be just as dangerous as pollution.

A qualified SWPPP developer must also create an SWPPP and, in some states, must be implored by a qualified SWPPP practitioner. That means someone on the construction team will either need to have these qualifications, or you will need to hire a company to help you with this.

There is the option to obtain these qualifications. However, that may postpone the project for some time, putting a major dent in profitability. Moreover, the added expenses of training and so on don’t make things any better.

Hiring a company to do this for you isn’t as expensive as you might think it to be. The average price of an SWPPP, not the implementation, runs from $1,000-$6,000—depending on the size and nature of the project. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a relatively minor expense, and it can save you thousands of dollars that are associated with the headaches of not being prepared or failing to build and execute a proper plan.

What is the minimum number of steps for implementing an SWPPP?

What is required of an SWPPP is dependent on the size and features of the construction site. So, what is necessary for one site is not necessary to the other.

However, these four steps will help any site build the right plan.

1. Form an SWPPP team:

Bringing in qualified personnel is the most crucial part. Building the right plan is dependent on their knowledge. 

2. Identify potential sources of pollution:

This includes everything from hard surfaces, their location, chemicals, materials, and potential accidents that can lead to pollution. 

3. Document pollution control measures:

Pollution control measures include measures to minimize exposure, prevent accidents, and manage water flow. 

4. Describe inspection procedures:

Maintaining measures is just as important as installing them. Therefore, your plan must include explicit descriptions of how you intend to monitor and maintain the BMP’s your SWPPP implements.

You mustn’t just think of an SWPPP as another hoop to jump through. All of us need to protect the environment and surrounding buildings or towns. Without SWPPP’s in place, we can kill wildlife, destroy towns, and even cause harm to local residents.

In understanding this, you’ll know that you should put your best efforts into building and keeping up with your SWPPP.

Again, you don’t have to go about this alone. There are companies all over the country that specialize in this area. We at Path Light Pro are more than happy to provide you with their services by building a proper plan for you. Doing so is also the best way for many to ensure they have the best SWPPP in place. Contact our nationwide staff today for additional information.

What is a Stormwater Management Plan?

It’s no secret that mankind has a significant impact on the environment, especially in construction. Reshaping the land affects local ecosystems and more. And even after a project has been completed, it will continue to clash with nature.  

One of the ways this occurs is through the flow of stormwater and melted ice or snow. Whatever water contacts, and the rate of contact, are two primary considerations during any construction project. And a stormwater management plan is an essential part of any project.

Continue reading “What is a Stormwater Management Plan?”

Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance? What’s the Difference?

Quality control and quality assurance are both necessary for creating a perfect final product. Though many use the terms interchangeably, they are separate practices.

Understanding the differences in either will only give you a heightened understanding of what it takes to achieve and maintain the development of flawless productions. Continue reading “Quality Control vs. Quality Assurance? What’s the Difference?”

Do I Really Need a SWPPP Plan? What Will it Do for Me?

Construction sites have an impact on the environment. One of our main priorities is to reduce this impact as much as possible. One of the ways to do that is with a SWPPP Plan. This extensive document may be something you consider overlooking, but that is something you should never do. While the primary goal of a SWPPP Plan is to protect the environment, it can also protect you. Continue reading “Do I Really Need a SWPPP Plan? What Will it Do for Me?”

3 Reasons to Develop a Safety Plan for Your Construction Site

Construction sites are more prone to accidents than any other job. The amount of people working, heavy machinery, and other dangerous conditions make construction a very high-risk situation. If you are a developer or project manager, it is up to you to ensure the safety of your job site and the people working on it.
Continue reading “3 Reasons to Develop a Safety Plan for Your Construction Site”