By Kyle Michaud, a best-selling author & owner of Carolina Dozer.
My excavation company, Carolina Dozer, clears land for development or redevelopment, either for commercial or residential uses. I’m also an ardent environmentalist who is committed to operating my business and living my life in sustainable ways. How do I reconcile the two seemingly opposite aims, running my business profitably and helping to save the planet? I do this by reducing waste and lowering my business’s carbon footprint as much as possible. The way I see it, development is inevitable, but doing it in an eco-friendly way is not. My aim is to inspire and support any of my colleagues in the construction industry who have not “gone green” to do so and let them know that they won’t lose their shirt in the process. In fact, running your construction business in an eco-friendly manner means spending resources efficiently, which is good for your bottom line too. Here are some steps your business can take to “go green.”
A Consumptive Industry
First, the hard facts: the construction business chews up raw materials and natural resources. According to a 2017 study by the World Green Building Council, the construction industry also generates an estimated 39% of the world’s carbon emissions. The good news is that industry executives recognize this waste as endemic to the construction process and are aiming to reduce it.
The same Forbes article also notes, however, that there is often a big gap between well-intentioned aims and meaningful actions. As a business owner in the 21st century, operating under environmentally ethical principles is not just the right thing to do, but doing so can also help your business prosper. There are a few main steps you should take to ensure your practices are congruent with eco-friendly principles.
The old adage “Failure to plan means you are planning to fail” really does ring true when it comes to sustainable business practices.
For the construction industry as a whole, it’s important that companies have a plan to reduce consumption as much as possible. Our business usually undertakes the first step in the process of constructing a new building, but we like to work with companies that have a detailed plan for the whole project. It’s important for us to know that our commitment to conserving resources is part of a larger plan to do so.
Plan ahead and save time, money and the planet by reducing your prospecting trips to building sites and therefore using as little fuel as possible. The use of assistive technology like satellite photos on Google Earth can also help conserve resources.
Use Modern Technology
Although the diesel engine has been around for well over a century, the escalating climate crisis has provided an imperative for manufacturers of construction equipment to produce powertrains that are both more fuel-efficient and have lower emissions.
Consider investing in the latest clean-burning and fuel-efficient equipment. While there is a larger up-front cost to investing in new equipment, the gains your business can make in efficiency will save you money in the long run, and you’ll substantially reduce your carbon footprint as well.
Measure Twice, Cut Once
This old handyman’s adage also applies to the modern world of the excavation business. For our business, it applies in the sense that we take pains to ensure we do the job right the first time so that we don’t have to waste resources doing it again or traveling to the site with different equipment. For building sites, we ensure the ground is exactly level because even slight variations can cause water to seep into and damage a building’s foundation, causing a tremendous waste of materials and resources. We ensure that we know exactly where existing power and water lines are located so that we don’t damage any existing infrastructure, which again wastes precious resources.
Your business should do its due diligence as carefully as it can, and in compliance with the local municipality’s own environmental regulations. You can save time, energy and money and be a good corporate steward of limited resources.
Green Practices Are The New Path Forward
It’s often said that eco-friendly business practices are the latest “trend,” but most of my fellow business entrepreneurs trade in reality. The science proves that global warming is occurring and that it’s a real phenomenon. We know that our planet’s resources are not unlimited and that we must save and conserve for the sake of our children and grandchildren. So by enacting sustainable practices, your business will affirm that it cares about our planet and its people in both the present and the future. Being green is both an act of humility—an admission that humankind is a partnership sharing limited resources on our revolving sphere—and an awesome responsibility.
The good news is that what my business and many others are doing here and now to preserve a future for our planet also has an immediate reward that can be measured in our books. Being green means being efficient and recognizing the scarcity of our resources. Acting efficiently and spending carefully can save any business a lot of money.
Being an eco-friendly member of the business community requires effort and some financial resources upfront. But through careful planning, the use of modern equipment and exacting operations that don’t need to be repeated, your business can save time, resources and money. And those savings equal a brighter future for your clients, your employees, your families and most importantly, our planet.