by Tommy Linstroth
Founder and CEO at Green Badger
Green Badger’s Construction ESG Primer
Benchmarking and reporting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics is of increasing importance to the construction industry. Recently a mainstay of existing buildings and real estate portfolios, general contractors are moving (or being pushed) to monitor and improve ESG metrics throughout the construction process.
History of Carbon Tracking in Construction
Historically, the industry has spent its time looking at the building itself. What is it made of, are products healthy, where are they coming from, what’s going on inside the building. Any talk of carbon and energy began once the building is occupied. What’s its EnergyStar score, what’s its utility bill. This type of information is only available once the occupants have been inside for a year or more.
However, that is starting to change. Now, it is not just what carbon do building occupants produce, but what’s the embodied carbon of the materials themselves. Environmental product declarations, the EC3 calculator, and advanced LCA software is beginning to crack that materials challenge.
But that still leaves a gap between the product or material creation and the end building’s carbon, water, and energy impacts. That gap consists of the months or years of construction activities required to transform those materials into the buildings we work and live in today.
This article is the first in a series that will explore the construction-related ESG metrics that are being requested by owners and benchmarked to varying degrees by the early adopters within the construction industry. Following articles will do deeper dives into specifics within each category, as well as insights into best practices for tracking and reporting, and lessons learned from the field.
The following is a snapshot of the common metrics project teams are beginning to report on. Some teams are just dipping their toes in one, other teams are neck deep. There’s not a right or wrong here – everyone is at a different place on their sustainability journey.
Common construction ESG metrics tracked throughout the construction process:
Construction Waste Tracking
One of the most commonly tracked metrics with readily available data, construction waste looks at the types and quantities of waste generated during the demolition and construction processes.
Onsite energy consumption includes purchased electricity and fuels, and contributes to carbon totals
Carbon coefficients translate energy use into a carbon total. Further layers begin to look at project transportation emissions from various sources and embodied carbon of materials.
Onsite water consumption, whether from an onsite meter or water trucks.
Project financials related to spending on minority and women-owned business (MWBE) and local participants.
Follow along as our series explores each of these metrics (and more!) in detail to see how each may apply to your project.