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Every building can be a green building

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As a general contractor, when an owner asks us to build something, we build it whether it’s green or not. As a green builder it’s something we shouldn’t do only when we’re asked -- doing it as a matter of course is something we should all strive to do. Any project can incorporate some aspect of sustainability, even if it’s contractor driven.

At BNBuilders the minimum expectation is that every project has a waste management plan to divert debris from the landfill. BNBuilders is in the process of integrating indoor air quality management and low emission products into every project. But this isn’t enough.

Nearly 50 percent of all energy consumed in the United States is consumed by buildings, the construction of buildings and the manufacturing of building products. About 44 percent of all U.S. energy is consumed by building operations. If we are not focused on the operational energy consumption we are missing an opportunity -- even in most green buildings -- to bring the best service to the owner and increase the sustainability of the project. Focusing on environmentally preferred products and waste management is easy but there’s little overall impact when just 5 percent of U.S. energy consumption is used for construction activities and building product manufacturing.

General contractors need to step out of their traditional role of just being the builder, and become more proactive when it comes to sustainability and green buildings. In partnership with owners, design teams and tenants, a substantial reduction in energy use and increased sustainability can be achieved. When it is not an owner priority, the general contractor needs to bring sustainability to the table and build an undeniable case for including aspects of it into the project.

BNBuilders has challenged itself to making the biggest impact possible on increasing the sustainability of our projects and day to day operations by:

* Committing to the Architecture 2030 Challenge;

* Requiring LEED credentials for all PM staff and selected site staff so that they understand all aspects of sustainability, not just the ones related to construction;

* Encourage tri-party agreements between builder, owner and the design team that set goals to attain sustainable performance targets in addition to budgets and schedules. Energy savings and project construction savings are then shared between the tri-party, giving each a stake in the operations and the construction of the project. The benefits of this sort of collaboration results in increased sustainability and the potential rewards far outweigh the risks.

* Bring sustainability to every aspect of our business: offices, job sites, and every project that we build;

* Educate and set an example for all of our partners on how to make a difference;

* Guide owners away from making decisions that will result in long-term expenses by bringing sustainable ideas to the table early in the design process that are supported by life cycle cost analysis.

BNBuilders believes it’s our responsibility to make a difference by being green through and through. It’s simply the right thing to do.

Submitted by James Jenkins, sustainability manager at BNBuilders

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