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Greener Buildings: 5 Ways a General Contractor Creates Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Structures

A General Contractor examining blueprints of a green building at a construction site.

Greener buildings leverage a holistic approach to construction that emphasizes sustainability, efficiency, and eco-friendliness. Here is how a General Contractor builds an efficient and environmentally sound structure:

Key Takeaways:

  • Responsible strategies can save time and materials to reduce construction waste
  • Best practice water treatments can prevent wider environmental pollution
  • The use of recycled and local materials can mean higher LEED ratings
  • Smart technology can be integrated to enhance energy efficiency
  • General Contractors are pivotal in creating sustainable, eco-friendly structures 

The construction industry is shifting toward a more sustainable future. The public’s desire for green, efficient buildings drives the industry to seek innovative design and contracting approaches. 

A General Contractor is at the forefront of this change, taking proactive steps to create eco-friendly, efficient, and sustainable structures that enhance indoor environment quality, protect and conserve water, and use materials more efficiently.

Green buildings use advanced technology and materials that help reduce energy consumption, cut operational costs, increase occupant comfort, and decrease the building’s carbon footprint. Cool roofs, solar energy, and stormwater management systems are some innovative strategies a General Contractor implements to create greener structures for a sustainable future.  

Benefits of greener buildings

The U.S. green building sector is projected to hit $103 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 9.3% from 2018–2023. General Contractors are incentivized to build green because of the many benefits these structures can provide:

Reduced carbon emissions and energy consumption

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reports that green buildings use 25% less energy than traditional buildings and reduces carbon emissions by 34% on average. Green buildings use Energy-Star-rated windows and doors, solar panels, and insulated wall systems to keep energy demands low. Smart thermostats and lighting systems are also being installed for further energy efficiency. 

Improved occupant health, comfort, and indoor air quality

Green buildings offer healthier, more comfortable indoor environments that enhance productivity, happiness, and overall wellness. High-efficiency HVAC systems, humidity sensors, and air filters help reduce pollutants and provide fresh, clean air for occupants. Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and adhesives further improve indoor air quality. 

Water conservation

Efficient plumbing fixtures such as low-flow toilets and faucets, rainwater harvesting systems, and greywater reuse systems used in green buildings help reduce water consumption. Green buildings also ease the strain on municipal water systems, assisting local communities in conserving resources. Stormwater and wastewater management systems mitigate flooding and reduce runoff that harms local ecosystems.

Lower operational and maintenance costs

Due to their energy efficiency, green buildings offer lower operational costs, which helps property owners cut costs and increase savings in the long run. Maintenance costs are 20% lower than typical structures since green buildings often use durable, long-lasting materials that won’t require frequent replacement or repair.

Increased resale values

Greener buildings offer higher resale values than traditional buildings, making them more attractive investments for buyers. A contractor for construction with a portfolio of certified green buildings will have an edge in the market. Tenants are also willing to pay more for green buildings – an average of $2.91/ft2 compared to $2.16/ft2 for traditional buildings – making them a great investment option for landlords.

These are just a few benefits that green buildings offer. The increased energy efficiency, cost savings, and reduced environmental impact make them an excellent choice for property owners looking for sustainable structures. 

5 ways General Contractors are creating green buildings

To appreciate the General Contractor’s role in creating green buildings, it’s paramount to understand their strategies. Here are 5 techniques General Contractors employ to create greener, more sustainable structures:

1. Leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) certification

General Contractors increasingly turn to LEED certification to create more sustainable, eco-friendly structures. LEED is a globally recognized green building program that reviews, verifies, and awards buildings that meet specific sustainability requirements. 

A General Contractor uses LEED as a guiding framework to build green, meeting the criteria necessary to earn points on design, orientation, energy, water, and material efficiencies. LEED aims to:

  • Reduce global carbon dioxide emissions
  • Increase energy efficiency
  • Preserve natural habitats and enhance biodiversity
  • Increase occupant health and well-being
  • Protect water resources

A contractor for construction who achieves LEED certification will be able to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and gain a competitive edge. 

2. Sustainable sourcing of materials

General Contractors are paying more attention to the materials they use during construction. Sustainable sourcing involves choosing reusable, recyclable, and renewable materials with minimal environmental impact. 

Recycled products and materials from local sources, for instance, help reduce pollution and support the local economy. Renewable materials like bamboo, cork, and hemp are also used in green construction due to their lightweight properties, flexibility, and excellent energy efficiency.

3. Proactive waste management

Construction waste poses a huge environmental challenge due to its potential hazards and the difficulty of disposing of it properly. Pollution, excessive consumption of resources, and damage to natural ecosystems can all result from improper waste management. 

General Contractors are now implementing proactive strategies such as sorting and recycling waste, using biodegradable materials, composting, and integrating alternative disposal solutions. Prefabrication, standardization, and modular construction also result in less waste during the building process. 

Materials are measured and cut to size in a controlled factory setting, reducing material waste onsite due to human error. Green buildings divert over 80 million tons of waste from landfills annually.

4. Smart technology for energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is at the core of green building practices, and General Contractors are tapping into intelligent technology to achieve this. Smart building systems and technologies allow a General Contractor to monitor and manage energy use in real-time, fine-tune the building’s performance, and reduce energy waste. 

General Contractors use data from innovative technology to evaluate energy performance, adjust temperature settings, and make informed decisions on building upgrades that could further enhance energy efficiency. Smart devices like thermostats, lighting sensors, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and solar panels are becoming increasingly commonplace in green buildings. 

5. Water management and conservation strategies

General Contractors focus on rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, permeable paving, and water-conserving plumbing fixtures to reduce water usage. Rainwater harvesting systems store and reuse rainwater for non-potable uses like cooling or irrigation, while greywater systems recycle wastewater from showers, baths, and washing machines. 

Permeable paving helps reduce stormwater runoff and soil erosion, allowing water to percolate through the surface instead of running off. Low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets control water usage, enhancing water conservation in green buildings. 

Green construction is the future of the built environment. By implementing strategic design, sourcing sustainable materials, managing waste responsibly, incorporating smart technology, and employing water conservation strategies, General Contractors can ensure their projects adhere to green building standards and meet the needs of their clients. 

Work with an experienced General Contractor to create a greener, more efficient structure

RPC General Contractors is your one-stop shop for General Contractor services. We are a family-owned and operated business specializing in construction services for high-end residential and commercial properties like restaurants and retail sites. 

We handle all aspects of General Contractor services, including design, planning, construction management, and value engineering. With over 35 years of experience and a commitment to green building practices, we can help you create a greener, more sustainable building that meets your needs. Hop on a quick call with our friendly team for a free estimate. 


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