Go Green using Lean Principles

By eliminating waste in the home building product and process, builders can negate the added costs for going green. The following is an excerpt from an article in Professional Builder.

a. Smart Design: A big part of resource efficiency is designing plans to match the dimensions by which products are available. Optimize plans with respect to lumber and sheathing sizes, drywall, concrete flooring, and HVAC, among other components. The result is lower up-front cost and less scrap or excess removal from the site.

b. Improved schedule: This reduces costly trips and fuel usage.

c. Lean construction methods: There are hundreds of examples, from reducing concrete “boil out” under footers, walls, and slabs, to getting material staged on the site to reduce damage, to protecting driveway corners with discarded conveyor mats from quarries. Each one reduces fuel and waste.

d. Advanced framing techniques: Significant material reduction means cost reduction in both up-front purchases and waste removal. For example, properly sizing and, in many cases, eliminating unnecessary interior headers can save hundreds per house. The environmental impact is reduced from the forest to the mill to the building site to the landfill.

e. Wast reduction/reuse/recycling: When waste is watched and highlighted, we waste much less. One less dumpster pull per house can save as much as $400, and the green benefit is obvious. There are builders successfully sorting trash by type and dealing with it as appropriate. Cardboard and metals are recycled. Waste wood becomes mulch. Drywall becomes a soil amendment.

f. Everything electronic: POs, VPOs, plans, specifications, bid packages, scopes contracts, change orders, schedules, electronic banking, wire transfer, etc. You save paper, ink, postage, courier fees, plus hundreds of trips between site and offices for builder personnel, suppliers, and trades alike.

g. Education: Builders, suppliers trades, and consumers are largely unaware of the green implications of building lean. Education is required.

Very soon we will realize that tremendous impact can be made on both the bottom line and the environment through the application of Lean methodology to dial operations. Remember, Lean is green - and it’s free.

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