Green is Good, Green With Prefab is Better

As an increasing number of owners and jurisdictions adopt or specify local, state, or international codes or standards in support of green building options, strategies to cost effectively conform become increasingly vital for your organization. 
 
From the standpoint of a building’s or facility’s total life-cycle cost and impact, sustainable, green, or living building design and construction can prove to be a viable option for lower total cost of ownership.
 
The question becomes, do these methods necessarily imply greater cost of delivery? Yes and no. While materials, methods, and regulations may incur some higher costs, each phase of the project will have opportunities to better manage costs through skillful use of design, planning, and improved processes of project and resource management. When limits exist, innovation will provide success.
 
Understanding "Green"
 
What does green construction mean to you? The intent, requirements, understanding, and implementation vary widely by region and jurisdiction. Perhaps these standards are not required or enforced, but the owner wishes to honor the intent of green building practices. As a contractor, understanding these standards will be crucial to putting the green in your pocket versus being left feeling green. 
 
When you refer to standards such as the ICC's International Green Building Code or California's CALGreen, it's obvious that new or different means, methods, and procedures must be put in place. What may not be so obvious is that the standards for sustainable construction provide a pathway to improved practices and can actually encourage a 'systems thinking' approach to the entire project.
 
Taking this facility-as-a-single-system view encourages collaborative and innovative decision-making. Starting with the early concepts through the design phase, cost control and value-adding decisions can be engineered into the design. Diligent scheduling and sequencing of work flow across all trades will encourage cooperation, shorten durations, and root out conflicts and gaps in design info that the coordination efforts missed.
 
With more detailed planning, options and opportunities become apparent. 
 
Prefabrication Benefits in Support of Green
 
Prefabrication has provided cost savings and waste reduction as a matter of practice for decades. Various contractor trades have seen organizational benefits from the methods and technologies used to process materials and prefabricate assemblies and modules away from the job site, or Externalizing the Work®.
 
Firms that employ prefabrication do so to reap the benefits of labor and material cost improvements and greatly reduced job site schedule, risks, and liabilities. These practices also yield benefits that can reduce the cost or schedule impact of any sustainable initiatives or requirements. 
 
Some of the green benefits are obvious:
 
  • Less material is wasted in the assembly.
  • Less material is lost or damaged on the site.
  • Less material is ordered.
  • Waste materials are handled away from the site. 
  • Recyclable materials are more easily captured.
  • Painting, finishing, or coating is done in a controlled environment.
  • Reusable shipping and packaging containers can be used.
  • Cleaner job site, less effort, and fewer resources spent on housekeeping.

Some benefits are not so obvious. For example, requirements from CALGreen address soil erosion, material and equipment management, and pollutant control. How can a strategy of prefabrication address these issues on a job site?

1. Soil Erosion

Whether in mud or dust, each vehicle or piece of equipment that moves through increases the soils and contaminants leaving the job site. Having a strategy of prefabrication will allow a num