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Focus - Green Building - A green horizon

image Glen Screws, President, Glen Screws Construction LLc, Austin, TX

AUSTIN - How would you describe the state of the construction industry in general terms? The construction industry as whole is doing fine. There are new projects and new products coming on board every day. Each city faces its obstacles. Our challenges are still the same, lead times for permits are still lagging and the shortage of labor has always been a factor.

 

 

 

  The Green sector is almost a norm and is catching on with almost every project, both commercial and residential.  Austin is and will remain one of the top LEED promoters in the nation.
 
Have you experienced an increase in business?  Slowdown?

    I can’t speak for other cities but Austin and its surroundings areas are faring quite well.  Just look downtown. Almost, if not
every building is LEED certified by Austin codes.  From site work to debris removal to the paints, the “Green” affect has caught on.  
 
What factors are driving this increase/slowdown?
    Everyone wants to live in and around Austin.  Our city and infrastructure is business friendly. As I stated earlier, Austin loves a “Green Envelope” and what it represents to the people here.
How has this increase/slowdown affected your company and how you conduct business?
    The increase has caused a shortage of trained and skilled workers. Projects are being pushed back months just due to the lack of qualified trades.
    I want to see the government step up and help push “Trade Schools” for the ones that want to learn a great trade in the construction field.
 
What are the “hot button” issues in the green building industry of construction?
    For me, it’s the “Green” products that are being introduced but not proven yet to drive down cost and energy bills.  Some of the equipment and products out there have not been tried and true yet to make energy savings statements. I think there should be a better regulatory process before they [products and equipment] can say, “Green” or “Sustainable”.
 
What are the major changes in the industry in recent years relating to green building?
    Some of the major changes we are seeing is a lot more companies asking upfront for more environmentally safe products, less carbon footprints. Years ago, no one knew what we know now. There are some great products that have been proven to really impact the industry.
 
What is the most significant challenges your industry faces?  Labor shortages?  Cost increases?  Training?
    Labor is a major challenge, and that all ties into training. There is a large gap in the trade sector.  We need more qualified labor on about every level of trade in the construction industry or we are going to be in big trouble.
    Cost increases are just part of growth.  When things slow down so do costs.
 
What are the cost increases relating to green building in your industry?
    The cost increases we have experienced have dramatically come down the past few years. We are currently seeing about a 3 to 7 percent increase in projects that want “green”.  Depending on what clients want, the savings over time can be significant. It can be as simple as products such as Control 4 or as complex as a HVAC system, lighting design, or smart design.
How are you dealing with these challenges?
    We try and stay informed of what is on the horizon and make sure they are proven.  We listen to our architects and designers, as they are a great resource for new and innovative products.
 
What is on the horizon for the green building industry?  Changes in technology; changes in codes; ordinances or laws; other?
    From my perspective, we are seeing the “Green Movement” becoming a normal practice soon. With the technology out there we are going to see new LEED categories. Cities are adopting new codes and practices.  Austin is pushing the envelope in every category.
 
What are the rewards of the green building industry?
    The rewards are simple.  We are saving our environment.
 
What is the key to being successful in the green building industry?
    Staying educated on the industry is the key.  Educating the client and public of what being “Green” can be is another key to being successful.
 
    GSCAustin and Glen Screws Construction LLc are an Austin based high end residential and commercial construction company that has been in business over 30 years.  -cmw


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Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net