The Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) represents more than 700 construction companies in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. The Association has launched the Excellence in Sustainable Construction Certification Program to help its members operate in more sustainable ways. The VRCA has chosen to use Gobi’s carbon software as a mandatory component of this program.
Lisa Wolfe, Associate Director of Education at the VRCA, provides her perspective on why the Association is working with its members to be more sustainable.
What is the Excellence in Sustainable Construction Certification Program?
The program is designed to help contractors and suppliers manage, report, and improve their business practices as they relate to social, environmental and economic sustainability. Construction companies will get tools and expertise that will help benchmark accomplishments and chart a course to improve performance. It goes beyond what some companies may think is sustainable, such as a waste management program.
Why is the VRCA encouraging its members to participating in the program?
As an industry, if we all work towards improving business practices while being economically viable, construction companies will be able to stay competitive and preserve the planet. Many of our members have already adopted sustainable practices but don’t have a formal program in place. The critical component of the program is creating a sustainability plan and implementing it with targets and metrics. The plan can be included when bidding on projects. We do believe this will carry some influence. We want to lead the industry in adopting some standard sustainable practices and this program will achieve that and push companies to have a level of rigour and accountability.
How would a company in the construction sector benefit from participating in the program?
We know sustainability is more than a buzz word. By becoming ESC certified, they can use this professional designation to attract and motivate employees, attract new clients and achieve more ways to save money through reducing consumption of energy sources. It’s getting the stamp of approval that your company has a level of accountability when it comes to sustainable practices.
How is the program different than LEED?
LEED certifies that the building itself has met specific criteria for sustainability. This is a well established program but it doesn’t require the companies to be operationally sustainable. The ESC program addresses this gap.
Why is it important for construction companies to track and reduce their carbon footprint?
With construction building projects accounting for upwards of 50% of greenhouse gases, it’s become mission critical for the construction industry to look at ways to minimize their footprint. When we can get a baseline of how much energy is being used at a construction site, let’s say for equipment like cranes, we can look at some tangible ways to reduce this.
Why do you think Gobi's carbon management software is the right tool for your members?
I think there is very good value on a number of fronts. What I like about Gobi is that the interface is really easy to use - it looks similar to Microsoft applications so there is a feeling of familiarity. And for those of us who are not techies, this is a good thing. I can't overemphasize that the tech support is outstanding; it absolutely exceeded my expectations.