It pays to plan for green construction as early in a project as possible, attorney Bryan Jackson told attendees during a recent Green Construction Contracts virtual event. "In my studies, I've [found] that if you make changes [to incorporate green features] early on, it's at a very low cost with a very high level or ability to make change," Jackson said. "As you go further out into the construction design and construction process, it becomes harder to make change, and [it becomes] more costly. So, the time to green your project is at the very get go, at the inception of design rather than later as it starts to cost you more and you have less ability to make change.
The nightmare, which hurts projects the most, is when you're actually making a change at the end of the project, perhaps because you weren't able to get all of your green points [for certification], and now you've got to add on something that wasn't planned, and that's the most expensive thing to do that could really hurt you." To prevent such a nightmare, he advised attendees to plan for additional points -- buffer points -- beyond the minimum number of points required for the targeted certification level.
One way to plan for green features early in a construction project is to use building information modeling (BIM), Jackson said. Through BIM, planners can evaluate crucial building elements for their environmentally favorable aspects, he explained.
"They can then look at every vendor that's providing [window] glass and find the most green and sustainable glass to put into that project," Jackson said. "There's a thing called embedded energy -- the energy that goes into creating the glass or the glazing for that project. If you use less energy, less embedded energy, then it's a greener product. [During this process of selecting a window, planners should ask the following questions:] 'What is its operating value? Has it got low-emissivity or low environmental impacts from the glazing? Is it going to have double and triple panes so that it gives you great insulation factors? Will it have reflective or sun-blocking behaviors so that it keeps the sun from overheating the building through the windows?'
"That's just one element. Look at your drywall. Look at your ceiling tiles. Look at your carpeting. Look at the steel and concrete. Everything could have a lower embedded energy so that there is less of a carbon footprint and fewer impacts to create the material and can have better insulating or a performance-enhancing aspect, higher insulation values to give you abilities to lower your utility costs to heat and cool or to utilize the water or to utilize the waste. Less waste is created through certain construction means and methods. All of that goes into your BIM model and your [attempts to incorporate green features are made easier] early on."
During his presentation, Jackson told attendees that there are two major categories of risks to green construction -- current risks and emerging risks. Capital risks, operational risks, and reputational risks comprise the category of current risks while emerging risks consist of ownership risks, regulatory risks, and casualty risks, he said.
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