The Community Impact of New Construction

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Construction projects are about more than building homes, roads, and commercial buildings. Anyone who has woken up at 6AM to the sound of a jackhammer or has had to take a detour because a road is closed for repair knows that construction, indisputably, impacts community.

As with most things in life, that impact isn’t merely black and white. It sits in the gray area, meaning it has both a positive and negative impact on the community as a whole.

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Assessing the impact is the first step in moving forward with a construction project. Once you do that, you can incorporate strategies to create a positive impact on the entire community.

Positive Economic Benefits

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Economics play an important role in most decisions, including construction. Builders often claim that new construction creates an economic boom, but is that true?

It is, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

In a recent report, the Association stated that the one-year economic impact of building 100 single-family homes with an average price of $378,000 is astronomical. Those 100 homes generate an estimated $28.7 million in local income, $3.6 million in revenue for the local government, and 394 jobs for the local community.

Local economies also enjoy recurring income after building those  homes. They can expect to bring in $4.1 million in local income and $1 million in government revenue each year, along with 69 new jobs for the local community.

The economic benefits don’t stop there. Business owners make more money, so there is more money for local wages and salaries.

While the study was based on 100 single-family homes, the benefits are also true for apartments. Also, you don’t need to build 100 pieces of property to enjoy the economic benefits. They will be on a smaller scale, but the local community will still appreciate them.

Road Construction

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New roads also boost a community’s economy. Improving transportation networks provides economic benefits to nearby properties. By reducing the time it takes to travel, people in local communities can reduce fuel costs and vehicle depreciation. Using basic urban economic theory, these cost savings benefit local property values. In other words, property values increase when you build up the surrounding infrastructure.

Commercial Real Estate Construction

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Commercial real estate has an economic impact on local communities, as well. In a study conducted by the NAIOP Research Foundation, it was determined that pre-construction, construction, and post-construction all have a significant economic benefit when related to commercial real estate. While pre-construction and construction mainly have national benefits, post-construction benefits the local community.

The local community benefits from maintenance and repair, cleaning services, utilities, and management, which  includes leasing, marketing, security, financial services, and more. As long as the building is in use, the local community continues to bring money in for these services.

Environmental Impact

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It is also important to consider the environmental impact before taking on a construction project. Construction doesn’t just cause high emissions that harm the environment on a global scale, it also impacts the local community. In fact, construction can cause soil erosion and problems with water quality and flow.

Soil Erosion

Soil erosion impacts downstream hydrology and can cause an increase in flooding, which can harm the environment. Soil erosion doesn’t just occur at the construction site. It also occurs downstream, which can have a serious impact on the community.

Water Quality

Construction also impacts the community’s water quality. During the construction phase, pollutants can end up in the water supply. Once construction is over, the water quality can still be a problem due to an increased demand for water, as well as increased pollution due to additional residents.

Groundwater Hydrology

Soil erosion isn’t the only reason construction impacts the flow of water. Parking lots and buildings alter the flow, which can destroy habitats and increase pollutants. It can also increase flooding.

The environmental impact of new construction might sound frightening, but it can be lessened by incorporating some strategies when taking on these projects.

Proper Planning

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Proper planning is one of the best ways to limit your environmental impact. Use construction management software to keep the project running smoothly. The fewer mistakes you make on the job, the less time it will take to complete. That will help limit your emissions.

Additionally, you should follow all of the guidelines set forth by the EPA. Make sure you follow them to the letter in order to have the smallest impact possible.

Erosion Controls

First, you need to design and install erosion controls when completing a new construction project. When properly installed, these controls will limit the exposed soil during the project.

Stabilize the Soil

You also need to take measures to stabilize the soil during the construction process. While soil stabilization is only required for certain projects, it is a good idea to do it for any project that requires excavation work.

Lower Pollution

It’s essential that you discharge all pollutants properly in order to minimize their impact on the environment and on construction workers.

For instance, don’t let paint runoff end up in the groundwater, and dispose of fuel in an environmentally responsible way.

Following the EPA’s guidelines will help you limit your environmental impact, but you can take it a step further by using green building materials, controlling the site’s long-term environmental impact.

Green Construction

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green construction is growing and is now a $120 billion to $145 billion opportunity. Green commercial and residential properties reduce emissions and other environmental problems that occur over the life of a building. Using LEED-certified guidelines is a good way to reduce your environmental impact while still meeting the demands of the customer.

While the community impact of new construction is both good and bad, you can tip the dial to the good side by implementing a smart strategy for your projects. Start with project management software, implement the EPA guidelines, and use the right materials to get the job done.

More?

Despite the poor reputation the construction industry has on community impact, the overall effects are beneficial to the community at large.

Did I fail to mention anything? What has your experience been with the community? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author

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Rachel Burger

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Rachel is a former Capterra analyst who covered project management.

Comments

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Hi Rachel,

I didn’t see you mention anything on how new construction impacts the health of community residents. As a healthcare professional in the public/community health sector, this is something that is very important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Questions to ask include: how walkable is a community and are there bike lanes in place (especially with new road construction)?, will there be green spaces in and around new construction? The potential for rooftop or community gardens? How close is the construction site to inhabited homes and will the sleep-wake cycle of tenants be affected? Hope this brings some new insight into ways we look at construction as it impacts surrounding communities!

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Very nice article. It seems to be straight forward not mincing on anything with the Pros and Cons of development.

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