construction project manager

Every Aspect of Construction Needs to Focus on Sustainability…Especially Project Managers

Construction sustainability

Credit: RGtimeline

Sustainability is a popular value amongst consumers, but it also benefits professionals who embrace it. Project managers have an influential role in promoting eco-friendliness in construction to push the industry forward. You can focus on these aspects to integrate green practices into every part of the construction process.

1. Prioritize Sustainability in RFPs

Minimizing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions should be a top priority while in the planning process for a new client. Research from 2020 revealed construction accounted for 37% of global CO2 emissions for residential and nonresidential projects. Reducing so much environmental pollution begins with each request for proposal (RFP).

Project managers should incorporate sustainable requests when creating an RFP for various contractors and vendors. If the architects and other professionals involved with a project can’t meet the green goals set in an RFP, you’ll know you should look elsewhere for partnerships. The extra effort will set the tone for the project and start it in the right direction.

2. Check Professional Partnerships

Every construction job requires professional partnerships. As a project manager, you likely have a hand in communicating with a brand or company representative who helps with procurement, shipping, manufacturing or the construction itself. Check existing partnerships to see how many have existing pledges to create eco-friendly solutions to traditional construction waste.

Companies without sustainable priorities won’t contribute any green efforts to your upcoming projects. Partnering with other local, national or global companies with sustainability commitments is a better use of your time and money.

3. Reformat Project Budgets

Project managers often fall into a routine when creating budgets for new projects. Although your process may work well, it might need more room for eco-friendly considerations. Reformat your budgeting process to make each project greener. Allocating funds for resources like 3D printers and building information modeling software will increase the project’s overall sustainability by preventing traditional forms of waste, pollution or CO2 emissions.

4. Find Prefabricated Materials

There are many available prefabricated materials project managers can use to focus on sustainability. Ordering premade concrete slabs reduces on-site construction time, minimizes water use and requires machinery to operate for fewer hours. Prefabricated steel sections speed up cutting and welding, which lowers a project’s length and overall environmental impact.

Prefabricated materials may change how you create budgets and plan timelines for projects at first, but they’re a significant environmental investment. Your jobs will be consistently greener and uphold your sustainability standards.

5. Recycle Unused Materials

After each project, evaluate how many unused materials remain. Instead of throwing unused materials away, they could become supplies for a future project. Materials like bricks, unmixed concrete and wooden planks might be invaluable to a prospective client. Keep a strict log of all the available materials to see how to reuse them later. You won’t spend as much on future purchasing and you’ll keep unnecessary waste out of landfills.

6. Create Emergency Response Plans

Mistakes happen any time someone is trying to learn something new. Your team might make mistakes when using new eco-friendly practices or tools in future projects. It could cost valuable time, but not if you make an emergency response plan.

Even after thorough team training, talk with your team to discuss what they believe they’ll need time to get used to or understand. Having emergency plans on standby maximizes your team’s productivity by preparing for anything, so downtime doesn’t disrupt your projects or timelines. Your plans may look like a backup software program, if the new one glitches, or a helpline your team can call for questions about greener machinery.

7. Source Local Supplies

Ordering supplies from national or international suppliers might be what you’ve always done, but it isn’t the greenest solution for projects. It’s better for the environment when project managers get supplies from local companies. They won’t burn as much fossil fuels in shipping because they’re closer to your project’s location.

Closer locations also reduce shipping fees, leading to better-priced procurement deals. Local companies may even create new discounts for long-term partnerships and save additional funding.

8. Outline On-Site Sustainability Efforts

Direct changes to on-site resources are part of updating every aspect of construction for a greener future. Talk with your team before a project begins to discuss using things like LED light bulbs. They’ll reduce the electricity needed for continual power without sacrificing the bright lights keeping everyone safe on site.

You could also set up recycling bins at each project location. Regular pickup by a local recycling company will make your sites greener than ever. Team morale might also improve because everyone would feel like they’re contributing to a healthier planet.

9. Plan Carbon Offsetting Donations

Even the best project managers can’t make their sites entirely carbon-neutral. Until the industry functions on a completely eco-friendly system, flaws will remain in place, like fossil fuels. However, clients who want their projects to be as sustainable as possible can select carbon-offsetting programs and donate in their project’s name.

These programs use donations to fund carbon-reducing projects and effectively eliminate unavoidable CO2. Your client’s contribution might plant additional carbon-removing trees in another country or help create hydroelectric plants in places without sustainable power.

You could also set aside a portion of each project budget to donate to such programs. Whether the money comes from clients or your company, it makes your projects greener by combating global emissions.

10. Reflect and Adjust When Needed

The best leaders demonstrate how to learn from their mistakes. You can model the same for your team members and clients by reflecting on each project’s sustainability to determine what’s working. When you find an ineffective change — like if no one uses the recycling bins on a project’s site — you can swap it with an alternative idea.

Repeating this process with each future project is essential to learn and grow continually. You’ll also find opportunities to use new green technology or industry advancements by keeping up with eco-friendly practices.

Start Focusing on Sustainability

When project managers focus on sustainability throughout every aspect of construction, they’ll make a positive impact on the planet. Use these tips to start making green changes today. Every effort makes a difference and aligns your work with the green values at your organization’s core.

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