Know how your products affect the overall project.
A producer should recommend products to help the building perform at its best. Be aware of your concrete's thermal mass, and its contribution to the building's energy efficiency. If it is used externally, will its reflectivity keep the building cool and reduce urban heat island effect?
Be mindful of your materials.
The overall goal on a sustainable project is to eliminate as many toxins as possible from the job's materials without degrading their quality or the building's operation. What's in your mix? Does it include recycled content? Do you use locally sourced materials? Can jobsite waste be reduced, reused, or recycled? Make sure all the project's stakeholders know what your concrete can contribute to its sustainability.
Be open to new relationships.
Working on green projects may mean a producer can't always stick with his tried and true partners. It can be difficult to find proactive suppliers who want to educate themselves about green building. "You might have to find new suppliers or partners willing to make the extra effort," says Bhatia.
Pick your battles.
Just because a green product or design can be done doesn't mean it makes sense. To truly be sustainable, a project has to be feasible and meet its budget. On a case-by-case basis, you have to make intelligent, financially responsible decisions about the best products should be used.
Invest in yourself.
No one ? not a designer, contractor, or owner ? will invest in your education as much as you will, especially in today's economy. To be successful, producers must seek out green training on their own. "GC's prefer knowledgeable partners, even if their bids are higher. Many GC's find value in knowing they don't have to use their limited resources to make sure everything performs the way it's supposed to in a green building," Bhatia explains.
Share your expertise.
As mentioned in the article, Bhatia recently met with a brick supplier who explained his products' sustainable benefits. Pine Hall Brick gave him with a sheet explaining how its pavers could be used to earn specific types of LEED credit. "This is the type of company I want to support," he says.
Click here to see Pine Hall Brick's brochure on permeable pavers, or visit their Technical Paver Web site, www.claypaver.com.
Marty Bhatia is founder of OM Development, a sustainable construction leader in Chicago. His group also operates as a builder, real estate brokerage, and building supply company. Contact him at 312-850-9911 or marty@OmHomesOnline.com.