Building Better, Building Green

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Between 2013 and 2020, the worldwide market for green building materials is expected to explode from $116 billion to more than $254 billion. Needless to say, as contractors, being prepared for this fundamental market shift is fast becoming vital to our ability to compete. From corporate building projects to residential home renovation and construction, we may well be looking at an opportunity to transform not just our industry, but also our world.

In the middle of the desert, the world-famous Palazzo Hotel and Resort is proving to be a leading example of this transformation. Located in Las Vegas, the hotel has gone out of its way to become an eco-friendly hub for visitors from across the globe. With the comfort and well being of its guests as an equally important priority, roughly 42% of the buildings footprint stands open to extensive outdoor areas. Pools, fountains, terraces, and landscapes create a relaxing experience that is buoyed by amazing feats of water efficiency. Among the ways the Palazzo is cutting water usage by more than 8 million gallons every years are artificial grass, moisture sensors, and specifically, a drip-irrigation system. Developed for use in drought-prone areas, drip irrigation has become a staple for many residential properties looking to save water and money without sacrificing aesthetics.

Of course, the Palazzo isn't the only Las Vegas hotel taking advantage of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle triangle. The Aria is now diverting close to 47% of its waste from landfills to recycling facilities. Besting even that staggering number, The Aria's convention center is actually diverting more than 80% of the waste from its show floors. Indeed, while the "three R's" have been common knowledge for many years, the recent embrace by companies and individuals is nothing short of remarkable. From the Aria sending food scraps to a local pig farm, to the trendy repair and restoration of old furniture, tools, and grocery containers, the eco-friendly movement has taken on a cultural life of its own.

Homeowners more and more are implementing these green practices such as drip irrigation systems. These are great as they are hidden. Also, homeowners can install gray water systems that capture water from washers and showers for use outside. Relating the "Three R's", a practice known as "up cycling" has gained momentum. Homeowners are taking used and worn out items and finding new uses for them, instead of sending them off to a landfill.

If anything, while it is obvious that the scope of these projects and innovations can vary greatly, the consistency of the demand should give us pause. With the growing market for eco-friendly materials and innovations, we're reminded that the ability to adapt has always been a part of being a successful contractor. Millions travel to Vegas every year, if a city in the desert can adapt to accommodate the green traveler, so can the homeowner. As it is, we can also hope that this ability to adapt may end up driving both a better industry, and a better world.

Building Better, Building Green - Sam Marquit - green-building-materials-7.jpg

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