Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Define Your Shade – Resource Efficiency

This is the last article in the series that defines Green Building for homes. In a previous article, we discussed the definition of efficiency: utilizing products better than before to reduce usage, rather than just eliminating the item (conservation). With respects to resources, efficiency reduces the amount of product needed to build a home without reducing the overall performance of the structure.

The most common methods of reducing material usage onsite is through pre-manufactured systems: Walls, Floors, Roof Trusses, etc. Building these products onsite creates more waste. In a manufacturing environment, wood is cut to length in one area and the fall-off, smaller end pieces typically less than 2 feet in length, is moved to another part of the facility for use in other products. Manufacturing also provides better avenues to recycle not only the waste material, but sawdust, in the case of wood construction, as well.

Resources also play a role in the design phase of the construction process. Knowing the dimensions of standard goods will reduce wasted material and wasted work. Carpet is typically purchased in 12’ roles; Stud spacing is 16” or 24” on center; Drywall is purchased in 8’,12’ & 16’ lengths. Designing room dimensions and overall dimensions to maximize the usage of material is preferable in the green building process.

Recycling can also play a role in resource management. While some materials are recycled into products not used in the construction industry, some recycled products can be used in the construction process. In Nashville, Tennessee Waste offers the most comprehensive construction waste recycling program available. Meeting both LEED and NAHB Green Building standards, Tennessee Waste recycles about 70% of waste collected and returns a portion of that material to jobsites through there aggregates program, saving the landfills while saving builders money.

An aspect of resource management often overlooked in the industry is scheduling. Installing products too early can result in rework due to damage or replacement due to theft. Some builders spend as much as 15% of total construction costs on rework, repair and theft. In some cases, builder could build a much greener home and pay for the upgrades through better scheduling and trade management.

In summary, Green Building is much more than just lighting and smaller homes. Homes of all sizes and uses can be built better and more green by understanding the various aspects of efficiency, air quality and site work.

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