Having a business that takes sustainability seriously is about so much more than maintaining a good bottom line, or even helping the planet! Sure, both of those things are no doubt great, but a big part of the allure of running a sustainable construction business is that it puts you at the forefront of an exciting new revolution. Being sustainable is no longer about adding another buzzword to your collection, nor is it about aspiring for that which is inherently unachievable.
Being a sustainable business today means rising to face the myriad of environmental challenges – challenges that should concern us all a lot more than they do. Our environment is teetering on the edge; it has been for some time in fact! But it is only now that the effects of these global temperature changes are becoming manifest that people are really waking up to the importance of environmentalism as a concept.
Of course, where you have a large group of people who share the same values and beliefs, there is always an enormous amount of potential for money to be made! As the portion of any given market demographic who cares about sustainability continues to increase, new sustainable businesses are being created to meet the demand.
Why Start a Sustainable Construction Business?
Not only do sustainable business practices benefit us all in improving the overall condition of the planet Earth (a place where I have made some vital investments), sustainable construction allows us to do more with our planet while still reducing the cost in terms of environmental damage.
Sustainable construction is an area of study that has enormous implications for the way that many people on our planet lives. It also has similarly significant potential when it comes to shaping the future urban environments of our planet. Imagine, for example, a city as old and complex as London. Such a city that had been built from sustainable architecture could be remodeled, shifted, and adjusted architecturally in ways that aren’t possible with stone.
Not only are sustainable construction businesses at the very forefront of a number of industries – among them are engineering, ecology, architecture, urban planning – but demand for their services is continuing to grow.
While there are now plenty of sustainable construction businesses out there, the industry lacks the behemoths that have come to dominate the traditional construction industry. This means that it is still perfectly feasible for a small or medium enterprise (SME) to step in and fill the void. The federal FedBizOpps initiative, about which you can read more now by following the link, provides financial incentives to SMEs to encourage them to get involved in public projects. Proponents claim that the benefits of private investment can then be brought to public projects.
Get the Right People on Board
Any business is only ever going to be as good as the people that they are able to attract to work there. However, when you are operating in a more niche area than usual, for example embracing sustainable construction over more traditional methods, it is even more important that you have the right people around you. You need people who understand that market that you are moving into, who will be able to help you make the connections you need to succeed. Most importantly though, you need to show people that the business can survive without you.
Construction projects are long-term projects. People aren’t going to commit to years or decades of spending obligations with a firm who is dependent upon a single individual. Instead, you need a range of passionate individuals, each of whom can present the business’s ethos and message to consumers and other businesses.
Make PR a Priority
Whether you are constructing relatively small and minor projects for people’s homes, or instead you end up designing the buildings that come to define entire skylines, you need good community relations. Every building you put up represents a physical change to people’s surroundings. Once you’ve finished building your latest project, you are more or less done with it. However, many people will now see the project you completed as a part of their day to day life.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that you are able to maintain good community relations, no matter where you are building, nor the size of the final structure. Being a sustainable building company, you have a natural advantage. Your eco credentials can be used in order sell your firm over other competing construction crews, especially for public works contracts.
During your earliest years, the toughest years for businesses in any industry, your eco credentials will help you to go far and will give you some fantastically effective PR lines to use. Make sure that you really play up to this side of things, and push heavily on the notion that your ability to bring environmental benefits to the local area is of great value when the time comes to award the contracts.
Play the Long Game
While the world is in no doubt waking up to the potential and necessity for environmentally friendly technologies, the pace of change is still much slower than many of us would hope for. Sustainable construction companies need to understand that it could be quite some time before the kind of promise that sustainable construction has always had is fully realized.
That said, there are plenty of opportunities for your sustainable construction business to put itself at the forefront of exciting new developments in the field. There is nothing wrong with being a stepping stone across the rivers of genius, from the shores of obscurity to those of world changing inventors, just as those early gamers with their cassette-based contraptions were taking part in the same computing revolution that has transformed our world.
In a similar fashion, the smaller-scale sustainable construction projects that you are involved in today could lay the groundwork for future sustainable construction that has truly world-changing implications.
Aiming for the Future
Keeping your sustainable construction business financially liable in the long term will require you to always remain abreast of the latest developments in this ever-evolving field. This is one of those industries where backing the right horse now will see your value skyrocket! But where does the future of sustainable construction lie? Let’s take a look at some of the ideas:
- Carbon-neutral Buildings: These have been around for a while, but have been growing in number and popularity. The concept with one of these buildings is simple; their erection and maintenance has a neutral impact on carbon emissions. That means that they are built using sustainable methods, and with the capacity to generate and store, or import, renewable energy sources.
- Garden architecture and natural air filtration: This is a fascinating new area of research with regards to sustainable living and the design of urban environments. This is another idea that has appeared in a number of cities worldwide, and has been proposed in many more. Essentially, by coating the walls of our skyscrapers with a layer of garden e.g. soil, flowers, plants, etc., we can achieve two things:
- The foliage will consume carbon-dioxide and emit oxygen. This reduces the rate of CO2, a very poisonous greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere. Therefore, approaching sustainable architecture in this way improves the air quality of cities. In fact, different plants can filter out different substances from the air, often breaking them down harmlessly.
- Cities are hot. When the sun is beating down, concrete pavements and walls reflect heat into the surrounding area. The result is that cities are hotter than rural areas. This can cause a number of problems, especially with the extra pollution in cities. However, these wall gardens make for very effective insulators. Plants can also use that energy to photosynthesize. This keeps cities cool and prevents the conditions where smog and pollution hang around.
- Energy Efficient Homes: The Holy Grail, if you will, of sustainable housing, is a house that is able to generate all of its own electricity and doesn’t require any extra input from elsewhere. This means that the energy used must be renewable, solar is a good candidate for this, and that it must be harvestable and storable on relatively small scales. You could, of course, have one big commercial battery used by your civilization, but then each home is not truly energy independent. Achieving this goal is difficult for a number of reasons. It is much more than just a technology problem, also touching on engineering, material sciences, and electronics.
As you can see, the potential for the radical and world-changing inventions is there, but it needs the right direction. Making the right calls now with regards to driverless, and ultimately autonomous, cars would pay off in unfathomable returns on investment. The wrong choice could cause a humiliating defeat. If you want to grow a sustainable construction business, you need to make sure that you understand not just construction, but the many fields that affect sustainability.
Growing a sustainable construction business is all about selling the virtues of the concept, then watching the market grow. This is not a get-rich quick scheme. This is the opportunity to get in at the ground floor on something truly exciting.