Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Green Construction: Finding the Right Contractor


10 Tips for Identifying Eco-Friendly Contractors

by Jane Marsh

 

Green building is trending as more people grow increasingly aware of climate change and the environment. According to a recent study, the residential green building market reached $120.89 billion in 2022, expected to grow by 14.7% to $209.37 billion by 2026. In another report by the National Association of Realtors Research Group, 63% of respondents said listings mentioning energy efficiency were significant, while a high-performance home had a 6–10% increase in bids.

If you're interested in building or renovating an eco-friendly home, you'll want an experienced contractor specializing in green construction. Of course, finding the right professional for your project can prove challenging. Here are 10 tips for identifying an eco-friendly contractor to make your home sustainable.


  • Determine Your Project Scope

Before seeking an eco-friendly contractor, jot down ideas, draw rough sketches and outline your renovation goals. Also, consider sustainable materials you may want to use. When determining your project scope, answer the following questions:

  • What's my budget?
  • What part of my home do I want to renovate?
  • What materials do I want to use or avoid for this project?
  • What are my eco-friendly options for materials?
  • Can I afford the green alternatives?
  • When do I want my project completed?

Having an idea of your project's scope will allow you to hone in on an ideal contractor when you begin researching.

  • Research Green Businesses

Ensure you have everything and everyone you need for your renovation, from reputable contractors to companies that sell green products. Look for local, eco-friendly establishments while noting sustainable brands you can use for flooring, tiles, or paint.

Visit websites and forums and read each company's reviews, testimonials, and complaints. When searching for an eco-friendly contractor, check for statements pointing to their green practices and materials, whether they're members of green building associations, or if they list any green certifications.

  • Ask Around

Many times, homeowners find reputable contractors through friends, family, and neighbors. It's a good idea to ask whether anyone has worked with an eco-friendly contractor before, saving you some time in hiring the right person. Knowing a contractor has worked with someone familiar indicates they'll do a good job. A friend or family member can also speak to their sustainability as a home builder.

  • Interview Eco-Friendly Contractors

Like any other job, you'll want to interview each contractor you're considering before hiring them to do the work. Questions you may want to ask include:

  • Where do you source your materials and products?
  • How many sustainable projects have you completed?
  • What renewable energy sources do you use to power your equipment?
  • Do you recycle? How do you dispose of waste from the job site?
  • Do you work with eco-friendly subcontractors?

Interviewing contractors is time-consuming but necessary — a crucial step of hiring an eco-friendly contractor you won't want to skip.

  • Ask for License and Insurance

Whether a contractor leans green or does traditional construction, always hire those with the proper licensure and credentialing. There needs to be more than experience to ensure quality work — unlicensed contractors or those who have allowed their credentials to expire can put your project, safety, and home resale value at risk.

Additionally, all contractors and subcontractors must have insurance in case of injury. If subcontractors have cut-rate insurance, it's a sign they put their safety on the back burner and could be a potential liability. Always exact for their exact insurance type.

  • Verify Sustainable Certification

Sustainability means different things to different people, so you'll want to verify your contractor has obtained certification indicating their eco-friendliness. Ask if your contractor has received any of the following certifications for their work or sourced materials:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • Forest Stewardship Council certification
  • National Association of the Remodeling Industry
  • Green Plumbers USA
  • GREENGUARD
  • ENERGY STAR

The ENERGY STAR appliances and products maintain EPA certification and are highly energy efficient. Homeowners save on energy consumption and utility bills by installing environmentally-friendly models. 

  • Review Previous Work

An eco-friendly contractor will be eager to show off completed projects as an example of their craft and adherence to sustainability. They should also provide contact information for previous clients so you can inquire about their experience and satisfaction working with the contractor. It's essential to ask for projects similar to yours to get an idea of the results.

  • Compare Contractors

Hopefully, you've interviewed a few contractors to do the work. Once you've confirmed their licensure and certifications, conduct a side-by-side comparison.

Review the estimated timelines, costs, processes, materials, and more to determine what fits your project scope best. Multiple options allow you to decide whether you're offered competitive pricing for the project.

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of working with each contractor before making a final decision. You want to ensure you choose the right expert to do the work, so try to take your time with your choice.

  • Identify Greenwashing

Always be mindful of greenwashing when selecting a contractor for your green home renovation. According to a recent survey, 65% of supply chain executives admit they overstate their sustainability.

Double-check that each aspect of your project maintains legitimate eco-friendly labels for goods and services. Otherwise, what you initially believed was sustainable may not be as green as you'd hoped.

  • Write Up the Contract

Ensure your contractor includes the eco-friendly contingencies in the written contract, along with the payment plan, timeline, and other fine details. You'll want them to agree to use sustainable power sources, materials, and practices throughout your green renovation whenever possible. Additionally, read every detail before signing the agreement and avoid working with contractors that have you pay for the renovation upfront.


Renovate Your Home Sustainably With an Eco-Friendly Contractor

The last thing you want is to hire someone to do your home renovation who aligns differently with your sustainable values. If you're hoping to build or renovate your green home, you'll need to hire someone who does the work correctly.


Article by Jane Marsh

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co


 

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