A few years ago, the sheet metal industry didn’t appear to give much thought to sustainability.

Even though HVAC in general and ductwork in particular can have a huge impact on the energy efficiency of buildings, the industry was a little slow to embrace the so-called green movement.

For a few months in 2001, I helped out with editing duties on Environmental Design & Construction, a green-themed magazine also published by BNP Media (parent company of Snips). The magazine was filled with articles and advertisements about environmentally friendly projects and products, although few were for furnaces or air conditioners. Articles written by HVAC experts were even rarer.

Even as the movement started to gain headway, many in sheet metal were skeptical. I remember attending a trade show seminar on sustainability in 2003 or 2004 as part of my duties for Snips. Throughout the session, the panel was peppered with questions from contractors who complained there was no money in the “fad” of “green” projects. Several expressed confusion over the regulations the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification imposed on them.

But in 2010, it’s clear the sustainable movement is staying and few contractors can afford to shun this segment of the market.

Spreading

Snips has long covered green building and has showcased a number of contractors involved in it. This month is no exception. In our feature story on page 16, we talked to contractors across the country who believe in - and profit from - sustainable construction techniques. Many are active in green building committees overseen by the Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association or the Mechanical Contractors Association of America. Both have made a major commitment to environmentally conscious building in recent years.

In writing the story along with Snips associate editor James J. Siegel, we heard a common theme among those who identified themselves as green contractors. Over and over, they said sustainability was the right thing to do for the environment. Not incidentally, it was profitable as well.

There’s another reason why green building is proliferating, as noted in the results from Snipsmag.com’s May online poll. Many state and local governments are now requiring LEED certification as a prerequisite for any publically funded contract. Some states, such as Nevada, are even offering generous tax incentives to private developers that use environmental building methods.

There are a lot of reasons to go green. But free money never hurts. And if your company is involved in sustainable work, be sure to let us know about it.

Snipsmag.com May poll results

Green building and sustainable projects are no longer an industry novelty. If you are involved in sustainable construction, what is creating the demand for most of your green projects?

• Our customers are demanding it – 30 percent

• Our local municipality has made laws requiring it – 30 percent

• Our company is encouraging all customers to “go green” – 40 percent