The Lean and Green Blog: Lesson 6 - A sustainable products process

December 21, 2011

This December marks my glorious return to selecting products for new home construction. For three years, I have worked with TrueNorth Development bringing Trade Partners and Builders together to better understand the pain caused by their relationships and developing methods to overcome these instances of wasted effort.  Oftentimes, the discussion turns to products and what is the best product to use in a given construction circumstance.  The range of products and sustainable nature of these products is a discussion point in many settings.

In late November, as I began consulting with a local builder, I realized the challenge I faced was I had never begun developing standards truly from nothing ever in my career.  At all my previous position I did what every builder in the country does, I pulled the standards for a given community and made changes.  The exercise of starting anew is one I recommend every builder attempt, especially if you are looking to reinvent your product.

Working with the Trade Partners on the bid requests, I saw first hand how the past could really influence our future purchases.  On plans, we caution builders from ever including the phrase in a purchase contract of “just do it like the model.” For the trades, we should avoid the phrase, “just bid it like…” Not only does this create issues from builders, but for the trades as well.  If this is your practice, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you missing by just making it like something else? 
  • What product carry-overs are a result of a community or city requirement that you will not need in your new community?
  • And, what was a requirement before that will not be needed, but is still worth keeping?

This exercise will force you to think about every product you add to your homes and look at the alternatives that will make it greener.

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