Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

In Construction, Green and Frugal Often Go Hand-in-Hand

About this time last year, the Birmingham Business Journal published an article titled “Frugal by Design.” They talked with local architects about something that I truly think is national in interest: the changing landscape of the building business.

Three trends were identified that I’ve seen do nothing but grow over the last year. In fact, we’ve been involved in each:

1. Sustainable buildings. How can we build with the least environmental impact, now and down the road?

(Image: Ruffner Mountain nature center, which we built to LEED specifications)



2. Durable building materials. What is the upfront cost vs the cost over a building’s lifecycle?

(Image: LED Light poles we installed at a Florence, Alabama shopping center currently under construction)


3. Transforming existing structures. How can we breath new life into existing buildings?

(Image: The Waters Building, a circa 1880s structure we reworked in downtown Birmingham)



We have constructed multiple LEED projects over the last few years, for the right reason: sustainability. We have taken the time to evaluate new material types and equipment, including high-efficiency mechanical systems. We have re-purposed old buildings and in the process given them new lives.

These trends seem to be interlocking. 

Recently, we were awarded a project for an environmental learning Center in the Southwest. In the process, we will transform a previous ice skating rink which is no longer in demand into an educational facility. This might be a double leverage. We will update an existing building and in turn help educate students in environmental fields.

To me, we need to start thinking long(er) term, not necessarily the way we have always done things over the past few decades. We hope to truly take advantage of what we have faced the last few years with the intent of benefiting future generations.

Did your business see a rise in the three “frugal by design” principles? What do you see ahead for 2012?




Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.