The key to long-term business success is going green
by Todd Goldmeyer
July 28, 2016

With energy prices fluctuating and the amount of natural resources depleting, going green has been a rallying cry for millions of people for the better part of a decade. But how does going green affect the construction business, and what defines green construction?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines green construction as “any green facility or building designed to meet certain objectives, such as protecting occupant health, improving employee productivity, using energy, water and other resources more efficiently and reducing the overall impact to the environment.”

For many companies, the idea of going green means constructing or retrofitting buildings that are energy efficient and have the least amount of environmental impact as possible. For you, that means incorporating green materials into your company’s business plan. But making the transition from a traditional model to a more progressive one has its disadvantages—primarily, cost. However, this is a short-term loss with long-term benefits.

Benefits of Going Green

  • Cost savings —The number one benefit of going green is cost savings. Whether it is adding timers to your office lights, recycling building materials or investing in alternative energy sources like solar panels, you will save money in the long run.
  • Decrease in fuel consumption —Another benefit is maximizing your fuel efficiency. The short-term benefit is that you will have a more efficient construction fleet. Long term, you will experience an increase in revenue by completing more jobs, a decrease in the amount of additional stops during the work day and noticeable savings in fuel costs.
  • Attracting new customers —One thing that potential new customers are looking for in a contractor is how the business takes responsibility for its impact on the environment. Making a shift to a more sustainable, environmentally responsible construction business will help give you a leg up over the competition. There are many advantages of going green for a small business, especially for the construction industry. Offering recycled building materials and installing solar panels are all popular options that consumers have been demanding more and more frequently. However, a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) found that consumers are more likely to trust a construction contractor if the business implemented green initiatives as a part of company culture. So, before you begin constructing green facilities for customers, you should start by reconstructing your business.

Setting a Realistic Green Plan

Before making a significant shift in business operations, you will want to develop a plan. When setting a realistic “green plan” for the business, it’s important to first define primary goals.

For example, if you find that your construction fleet is wasting a lot of fuel each month, then one of your goals could be to reduce fuel costs by 10 percent in the first quarter of your green plan.

Determining the important factors when setting these goals will not only keep you on track, but will also make the shift painless and easy. It’s important to note that making this significant change can be difficult, so try to make the necessary changes in increments.

Start by setting benchmarks with actionable steps to reach each of your goals. Spread these action items out over the course of a year or longer. Then assign each of these steps to key staff members with manageable due dates.

3 Tips for Greater Fuel Efficiency

One of the largest expenses for any construction business owner is fuel. Even if you have a small business with only a handful of work vehicles in your fleet, it’s still a major investment.
However, according to the national highway traffic safety administration, businesses can save as much as $8,000 per year by ensuring fleet vehicles are fuel efficient. There are several ways that a business owner can easily and affordably go green:

1. Optimizing your fleet’s route — If you find that you’re sending your fleet to multiple stops or service calls throughout the day, you may want to consider optimizing your fleet routes. One of the easiest ways to optimize your routes is by implementing fleet management software. Fleet management software can simplify your routing process by sending optimized routes to central dispatching.

2. Smart dispatching —Another way you can conserve gas while also saving time is by dispatching the closest vehicles to a worksite. You can achieve this by utilizing the fleet tracking software mentioned in the previous tip. Most tracking software comes equipped with a GPS tracking system, so you will know where your work vehicles are at all times.

3. Emissions monitoring —If you own or operate a fleet of vehicles, then you understand the importance of emissions monitoring. Modern vehicles are built with the EPA’s approved on-board diagnostics software, known as “OBD-II.” This convenient and cost-effective method helps fleet owners comply with EPA emissions regulations. Not only will you be able to more accurately monitor emissions, but you will also be alerted when your vehicles’ standards change.

How to Measure Success

The final thing to consider when making the transition to a green business is how to measure your success.

There are a lot of different ways to determine if your green program is working, but first you will want to schedule a review. The only way to know for sure if the transition to being a green construction business is making an impact on your bottom line is to track your progress.

Set review dates monthly or quarterly to assess progress, share insights with key stakeholders and make the appropriate adjustments where necessary. Once you have evaluated the progress of your newly implemented green initiatives, refine and adjust.

Continue with the ones that are working. The initiatives that haven’t made an impact by the review date should be flagged as “in review.” These flagged initiatives will require a more detailed evaluation or more time to create an impact.