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Improving Sustainability Must be Top-of-Mind in Construction


sustainability in construction


“Integrating the pre-COVID-19 [sustainability] agenda into the post-COVID-19 action plan.” — Alexandre L’Heureux, President of WSP Global

Despite the ongoing pandemic, sustainability is still the driving trend in construction. The post-crisis resiliency of construction firms is tightly hinged to how they handle sustainability going forward. According to McKinsey, the “new normal” in construction will trigger a complete overhaul of the industry — with sustainability at the front-and-center of the new disruption.

In a sense, COVID-19 is a sustainability accelerator. With code standardization changing by the minute, regulators are baking sustainability efforts directly into how construction firms operate. And, between global conversations regarding global warming and environmentalism and rising consumer demands for “green tech,” sustainability practices are quickly becoming a differentiator. Make no mistake, within the next few years, sustainability alone will win contracts — and lots of them.

Sustainability Moves Up the Supply Chain

Over the past decade, the sustainability conversation has mostly centered around carbon-abatement and on-site practices (e.g., dust reduction, noise reduction, electric machinery, etc.). Now, those concerns are moving up the chain. As McKinsey puts it, “Companies will need to consider the environmental impact when sourcing materials.” Who you purchase materials from, their operating conditions and the material types are crucial. It’s no longer just about your firm; it’s about how your firm interacts with the supply chain as a whole.

Recently, we discussed the boom of 3d printed homes and off-site construction, both of which are driven by sustainability. But, the future of sustainability extends beyond these practices. It’s how you build your brand, engage with vendors, and negotiate market materials. In other words, sustainability is no longer the industry slogan — it’s embedded in the industry’s DNA.

Sustainability Drives Margins and Trust

Let’s cut to the chase: sustainability is expensive. It requires a complete retooling of your people and processes. So… what’s in it for you? Obviously, that question may sound passé when discussing the broader good of the globe. But, we all have margins. And driving revenue and growth is still your top priority.

We anticipate significant zoning requirements to force construction companies towards sustainability. However, there’s a more immediate value driver for contractors that take on private projects; margins and trust. Eighty-eight percent of consumers don’t want to get involved with brands that aren’t sustainable, and 70% of consumers across the U.S. and Canada admit they prefer to do business with eco-friendly brands. In a competitive landscape where Walker predicts that brand will overtake price and product by the end of 2020, building consumer trust drives margins.

Regulations and Codes Fueling the Transformation 

Sixty-nine percent of construction firms believe that stricter regulations on work-site safety and sustainability will seriously impact the industry. Ninety percent believe those changes are coming within a few years. But now, as we brace for a post-crisis retooling of the industry, accelerant is being poured on the flames. Between local, state, and federal guidelines updates and UN Sustainability Development goals, the construction industry is undergoing a massive change.

On the one end, adapting your supply chain connections and building processes will help you meet stringent requirements and secure sustainability contracts. On the other end, revamping your practices to include lean, on-site construction, and product-based, off-site design-and-delivery models position your construction firm as a resilient champion of industry. The time to think about sustainability was a decade ago. The time to implement the right strategies starts today.

About Resource Erectors

Building sustainability-forward practices requires time, patience and investment. But it also requires the right talent. Are you looking to secure best-in-class construction talent to help you build a more robust, resilient and crisis-proof construction firm? We can help. Resource Erectors vets high-quality construction talent and connects growth-driven companies with ambitious talent. Contact us to learn how we can help you create a world-class talent ecosystem.

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