High performance & sustainability
Did you know that in Australia there is a strict limit on how much weight someone can lift? So to help people follow the regulations, they manufacture smaller drywall panels. In doing so, the burden for safety is shared across the design and construction community and reduces the risk for injury from improperly lifting drywall.
What would it take for more of these solutions on our jobsites, regardless of regulations?
Last month I participated in the PEDCO High Performance seminar, a local sustainability conference here in Cincinnati, Ohio. I spent time at the tradeshow where I met some interesting people and was challenged by great keynote speakers. The afternoon of the October 3, Director of Safety Dan Ruane and I presented a session titled, Construction Sites Are Workplaces, Too: Considering the Health of Those Who Occupy Buildings Before Turnover. We believe there is room for improvement when it comes to the air quality on our jobsites.
Our goal with the presentation was to challenge traditional thinking and move safety planning to the design process. Instead of thinking about safety in terms of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which is our last line of defense, we want to consider design strategies, like smaller drywall panels. For example, one low-hanging solution is partnering with the design community to specify Red-List free materials, which are healthier for building occupants and those installing the work.
Our presentation educated those in the audience about the realities of the effectiveness of different safety measures. It prompted good questions and started a discussion about collaborating with the design community to improve jobsite safety.
One week later, USGBC President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam spoke at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. It was his last stop in a national roadshow designed to educate people on the new version of LEED v4.1.
The new version focuses on more transparency and makes it easier to reduce energy and water usage. It includes the introduction of LEED Zero to evaluate how well buildings perform as they were designed. Finally, the new version encourages renovations of existing buildings as a better way of reducing carbon and energy usage than new construction.
It's good to see the USGBC proactively engaging communities in discussions about these enhancements so everyone is working toward the same goals. I'm excited to see how our buildings and our industry will evolve in the coming years because of open forums such as these.