The industry of “green” runs rampant in American culture. Cleaning products, health/wellness, restaurants, this “trend” accounts for over two million businesses in the United States. Construction has the biggest potential for positive change. While it costs more to build green, contractors and consumers find the savings in operation costs greatly outweighs the initial investment. Here’s how green has effected residential and commercial construction:
Residential – From materials to energy efficient equipment and appliances, the green industry has revolutionized home construction, maintenance and operation. Smart devices, such as: refrigerators, thermostats for your comfort system and washing machines work efficiently to save the homeowner time, money and energy. Homeowners construct or convert their homes to incorporate solar power (which can be sold to an energy provider!), grey water reuse, rain water collection, and window films to enable their house to use minimal amounts of resources.
Commercial – Going green has proven a sound business practice. Commercial properties constitute 75 million square feet that produces 136 million tons of waste a year. Not only do they have the most potential to save resources, they are rewarded with federal tax credits for those efforts. Customers, shareholders and communities demand businesses demonstrate environmental responsibility.
Going green isn’t a new concept. In the 1830’s-40’s, environmentalism was bred into American philosophy. In the 1860’s the nature conservation movement led to the creation of Yosemite in 1864, which later became our First National Park in 1872. In the World War II and the Cold War era, resources (like gasoline) were highly valued and often rationed. In the 1960’s, tree-huggers and hippies brought a new face to the environmentalist movement. Al Gore, 9-11, war and bizarre weather patterns account for the most recent green influx. Green is a movement, not a trend. The next phase of this movement pushes innovation with construction to work with nature not against it.
Allie Perez is director of operations, Mr. Plumber / Mr. AC, San Antonio (http://www.mrplumbersa.com). Her interesting viewpoints on the trades can be found on her blog at http://www.mrplumbersa.com/blog/