Today marks the beginning of National Green Week. About 10,000 schools and 5 million children will spend this week learning about sustainability thanks to the Green Education Foundation (GEF). Schools will choose one of six sustainability-themed programs to focus on this week. These free GEF programs are the Green Energy Challenge, Waste Reduction Challenge, Green Thumb Challenge, I Ride Green, Sustainable Water Challenge, and Green Building Program.
How can we bring initiatives like this to construction and why should we? Look around the jobsite and you will find lots of waste – unused construction materials, garbage, discarded tools and equipment, and the list goes on and on. All this material combined with people and equipment can create an unsafe environment and lead to incidents. So it really pays to be green on the jobsite.
Also, a recent UN EP report stated that noted that the construction sector consumes 33% of all global resources which is a total of 3 billion tons. The same report also stated that 40% of all solid waste generated worldwide by volume comes from the construction sector. Wow! That is a lot of waste. Implementing a green initiative at the jobsite may seem daunting, but remember baby steps and keep your green initiative simple.
You can start by offering recycling bins for waste that is classified as household use in eating and break areas or where employees may gather to eat or take breaks. Encourage your employees’ recycling efforts and explain the benefits of doing so.
For construction material waste, you can implement a site policy of material separation and designate areas to put materials designated for recycling. When you are selecting vendors to remove construction materials from your site, find ones that have services built-in where they separate the waste in containers. Also if you purchase too much material, see about buy back initiates form your vendors.
A small start can make a big a difference. Let employees know they are making a difference. If possible track the cost savings and communicate this to the workforce. With a minimal amount of effort, we can make this world a greener place to live.