In recent years, there’s been a major push by many companies to adopt green construction practices, projects and technologies. Building codes continually upgrade green requirements, and energy costs continue to soar for building owners.
Given the demands of today’s facilities and the market trends, green construction solutions present a strong opportunity to capture value and cost savings while positively impacting the earth. If implemented properly, your green initiatives can pay off, not only in environmental impact and sustainable ROI, but also in direct financial ROI, a more livable facility setting and a higher property value. At The Korte Company, we’ve completed more than 3,000 projects nationwide, including a wide variety of sustainable construction projects, and can help you achieve your vision.
See the map below for a look at where we’ve completed LEED-certified projects. Click the markers to learn more about each project.
Know your goals: What type of green are you?
The majority of green construction projects fall within three broad categories.
- For some companies, sustainable construction represents a core part of an overarching corporate vision and presents an opportunity to build trust with the community.
- For other owners, sustainability is about saving the environment with minimal carbon footprint and maximum resource conservation—even net zero energy consumption.
- And for many, green construction and design is about capturing energy-efficiency savings and achieving maximum ROI in reasonable payback periods.
While these goals often overlap, defining your priorities is the first step to a successful project. These three positions on sustainability can ultimately determine both the path of your project and the best green solutions for you.
Regardless of how you prioritize project goals, incorporating sustainability into your project from the start is the key to achieving them. The best opportunity to capture value in any project is during pre-construction and early design, when you can align your project to achieve desired goals. For that reason, we strongly recommend the Design-Build method, which promotes the development of innovative, best-value solutions.
Supporting a sustainable corporate vision
A corporate vision is as much a part of a company as people, processes and technology. Rooted in a company’s core values and purpose, it guides an organization toward goals and through challenges. Your facility can represent, support and project your corporate vision to the community—embodying the core principles that distinguish and drive your company.
If part of your vision is to build trust and connection with the community through sustainability, then your project can incorporate a range of relevant green solutions. The best way to identify the right solutions is through the structured process of Interactive Collaboration, wherein all parties on a project—from corporate finance, executive leadership and floor-level personnel to architect, engineer and constructor—operate in open partnership and communication. Working as a cohesive team, the core stakeholders identify and prioritize concerns, goals and innovative strategies to direct the project. With the corporate vision defined in the project, design progresses and clearly represents that vision through tangible design elements.
Approaches for demonstrating sustainability
Some approaches have gained widespread recognition and popularity among those seeking to support a sustainable vision. The most well known is U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification, which uses a points system to evaluate a project’s overall sustainability. Each green building element, which can range from solar PV arrays to bike racks, is worth varying point totals—the more points your project earns, the higher the level of certification it achieves. A growing alternative to LEED is Green Globes certification, which uses a more hands-on approach wherein expert advisors from the certifying body participate in the project process.
Other popular solutions include maximum daylighting to improve working conditions and information plaques or screens that showcase the building’s sustainable elements and educate building users on best practices. For many buildings, the sustainable solutions that support a corporate vision can also be used to drive ROI or minimize environmental impact.
Achieving maximum environmental impact
Do you want to go above and beyond to develop your facility as a true model of sustainability? With the right green solutions, you can ensure your facility minimizes your carbon footprint, energy consumption, water usage and more.
Approaches for the boldest projects
For the more extreme green projects, you can follow certain initiatives, such as the Living Building Challenge or the even more challenging Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) criteria, in which a facility produces all the energy it uses.
The practical approach
But to us, the strongest approach for most projects is to pick your battles and focus on specific goals to maximize environmental impact. Narrow down the project to a specific statement you want to make, whether it be reducing energy consumption, improving the quality of work or learning environments or supporting another more specific goal.
For many owners, the best way to narrow down the focus of a project is to start with the constraints of your project, such as your budget, schedule and location (both siting and climate). Then, you can hone in on solutions that deliver the biggest impact given the real-world parameters of your project.
Some of the most sustainable solutions take many years to deliver a financial ROI. If you’re building a new school or another public facility, you may have a long time horizon for achieving payback, so the most sustainable options may actually be the best solutions—even if they take 15 years to pay off.
Sustainable return on investment (SROI)
But you can also measure payoff in a number of specific ways outside of direct financial savings, such as social and environmental. To best identify these savings, you’ll want your project to incorporate a sustainability return on investment (SROI) report, which provides a structured process for measuring the full value of sustainability. An SROI will provide you:
- A summary of the direct financial impact of green solutions.
- A model for evaluating impacts such as improved productivity, energy reduction, water conservation, the elimination of CO2 emissions and more.
- A risk analysis of the model.
- The difference between the value of SROI and financial ROI.
With the right solutions and approach, your project can make maximum environmental impact and provide you a means of demonstrating precisely what that impact is.
Capturing maximum savings and financial ROI from energy efficiency
Many owners, perhaps the majority, look at energy efficiency as a means of getting maximum bang for the buck. In our experience, green solutions can and should deliver a positive financial ROI in reasonable payback periods. Why? Because today’s facilities are more complex than ever before, and market trends are making energy efficiency an increasingly smart investment.
Justifying energy-efficiency investments
Both energy and operating costs are increasing, and operating costs for some facilities now exceed construction costs within relatively short time frames. At the same time, building codes are demanding more and more stringent green standards. For many projects, energy-efficiency savings can actually pay for building elements that enhance the branding of a building or provide added amenities. Given today’s unique marketplace, your project should absolutely incorporate energy-efficiency solutions from the start. Then, you can adopt the strategies that deliver a strong ROI.
A smart approach
To achieve maximum ROI, don’t worry as much about meeting LEED standards or Green Globes requirements. Simply focus on solutions that deliver the best bang for your buck. A good starting place is following IECC codes and ASHRAE 189.1 guidelines for energy-efficient projects. We also highly recommend you start with the Design-Build method, which brings together a full project team to identify best-value solutions at the beginning of a project. Then, those solutions can influence both the design and construction process, ensuring you get the best value.
Measuring energy-efficiency ROI
To measure the effectiveness of various green solutions, incorporate a life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) into your project. An LCCA is the formal process of evaluating the ROI you can expect from various building investments. It uses a model of all factors of cost and payoff—including the time value of money—to compare sustainable solutions and demonstrate which one(s) provide the greatest ROI over the life of your facility. You get hard numbers behind your decision-making. Another important tool is payback period, which shows how long it takes for investments to pay off.
Both of these measures require an accurate understanding of your energy costs and how you use your facility, so creating a model requires smart, thorough analysis and planning. At The Korte Company, we work in close partnership with you to develop the most accurate models of energy savings, determining exactly how you use your facility and how much energy you consume.
Learn more in our complete guide to achieving energy-efficiency savings
We’ve published a complete but to-the-point guide that shows you exactly how to get the best bang for your buck from green projects. In it, we cover:
- More ways to measure the value of sustainability.
- Actions you can take to capture maximum energy-efficiency savings.
- Specific solutions that we’ve seen first hand deliver great ROI.
Beware of green washing
Unfortunately, as owners increasingly look to capture value from energy efficiency and sustainability, some product manufacturers are looking to cash in on the hype. Using green branding efforts, some are “ green washing” products that don’t conserve resources, curb CO2 emissions or provide energy-efficiency savings. At The Korte Company, we’re experienced in delivering sustainable projects nationwide to some of the most stringent standards. We can help you cut through the noise and get to the solutions that actually move the needle.
More about our green construction company
Since 1958, we’ve dedicated ourselves to building smart and staying at the cutting edge of construction. We helped pioneer the Design-Build construction delivery method, first implementing it on a commercial project in 1963—20 years before it emerged throughout the industry. As construction techniques and materials have evolved, we’ve evolved with them. Today, we build green because it’s building smart.
Starting with our unique Design-Build approach, we bring together the total project team to evaluate best-value solutions for cost, schedule, constructability and sustainability. As we progress through your project, those innovative solutions drive your project toward success. And the results speak for themselves.
We’ve completed more than 3,000 projects nationwide—always on-time and on-budget. Our satisfied clients include some of the biggest (and smallest) companies nationwide. And we’ve delivered a broad range of green projects, including those that reinforce corporate visions, maximize environmental impact and deliver maximum ROI. As a USGBC Silver member, we’ve completed more than 85 U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED-certified projects.
Whether you’re looking to make your mark on the environment or capture maximum savings, we’ll help you achieve the right green project for your goals. But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself. Browse our project portfolio or read client testimonials.
If you’ve got any questions regarding green construction and design, just ask. We’ll point you in the right direction. Give us a call at 618-654-8611 or contact us here.