Tag Archives: construction
The idea of a “green” hospital is going to give some germaphobes the heebie-jeebies. They’re picturing nurses in hemp pants and doctors wearing vests without shirts, and everybody’s hair is long and not tucked into a hygienic net or cap. And the X-ray techs are all singing Crosby, Stills and Nash songs. Phlebotomists might wash their hands (or not) — it depends on whether it’s a new moon tonight.
But that wouldn’t be fair to either environmentalists or hospitals. As architect John Messervy, chair of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, said, “If we commit to hospitals being centers of health for the employees, the patients, and the community, then we need to be setting an example.” This example does not include hemp pants, but it does include rooftop gardens, low-VOC paints, public transportation and even hospitals powered by beer. Seriously.
Janet Brown, director of outreach at the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, admitted that “it took me a while to realize that a commitment to the environment is a commitment to people. Building a greener hospital has a definite environmental impact, but also a positive impact for the patient experience.”
Put it all together, and what you figure out is that building a healthy hospital helps keep the trees, the birds, the squirrels, the patients, the employees and even the hospital’s bottom line healthy, too. And if you like what you read here, Brown and Messervy both encourage consumers of healthcare to pester — or politely ask — local hospitals about their green practices and encourage them to step up. Power to the people!
These days, we often see companies boasting about being “green,” meaning they use environmentally friendly methods or products. It’s now popular to promote sustainability, so that we preserve resources for future generations. It sounds pretty selfless, but being green is often cost-effective, too, which is better business.
For some companies, it goes beyond just giving you a recycled paper cup for your morning coffee. They’re so committed to sustainability (or to saving money) that they’re now incorporating green construction in their buildings. This includes major distribution centers, office headquarters and even retail stores.
The U.S. Green Building Council developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, better known as LEED. This rating system measures sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. A building scores points for each category, and it’s possible to gain a ranking of Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.
In 2005, at the peak of the housing boom in the United States, more than two million new homes were built [source: McQueen]. In contrast, only half a million homes began construction in 2009 [source: Emrath]. The boom fed the public’s nearly insatiable appetite for new construction. Home prices were rising quickly, mortgage terms were loose, and developers were churning out prefab McMansions on the hope of flipping an instant profit.
To keep up with the frenetic pace of construction, corners were most definitely cut [source: Toy]. Developers put pressure on contractors to build cheap and fast (a Seattle developer boasted a 54-day construction schedule) [source: Pulkkinen]. Contractors, pinched for experienced subcontractors, sometimes hired teams of unskilled laborers to handle critical tasks like pouring foundations, hanging windows and shingling roofs. A shortage of quality building materials led to cheap, unstable substitutions. If that wasn’t enough, building inspectors were often so crunched for time that they often relied on spot checks that overlooked serious design and construction flaws.
Of those two million homes built in 2005, experts estimate that 17 percent have at least two significant defects — anything from cracked foundations to leaky roofs to critical structural failures [source: McQueen]. If you thought that newer homes had fewer problems, read more about what can go wrong when work goes too fast.
Whether you’re doing a home renovation or building from scratch, it’s nice to be able to cut back on expenses in any construction project. Construction can get expensive, and since it’s not as easy to get a loan as it was before the housing bubble burst, chances are you’re working on a tight budget.
My husband and I added on to our house in the winter of 2011 and replaced the roof on the older part of the house in early 2012, so construction was a fact of life around here for about half a year. In the process of hiring contractors, working with an architect, and dealing with the day to day headaches of a large-scale renovation, I learned some of these money-saving tips the hard way, lucked out with others, and wish that I’d known a few more before we broke ground.
There are three ways to save money on construction projects: Cutting back on up-front costs, avoiding expensive mistakes, and making the finished structure less expensive to inhabit. From hiring workers and sourcing materials to doing some of the work yourself, there are lots of tricks to stay within your budget without cutting too much out of your project.