Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Trashing Those Product Samples

In honor of Greenbuild, I got to thinking about waste in the construction submittals process. BuildSite is all about saving time and paper waste on submittals. So you can imagine how frustrated I was on a recent trip to a distributor of acoustical products when I found the following waste of money, time and resources on multiple levels.

According to our BuildSite Submittals user, architects are routinely requesting physical samples of common (and not so common) acoustical products with their project submittals. This includes samples they have seen multiple times, such as batts and gypsum board. Now, I can understand why a designer would want samples to confirm the colors and textures of interior elements they have not used recently, or at all. But common insulation and drywall products?

The other disturbing piece of this is the sheer number of samples that are being requested. How many do they request, you ask? Three: one for the GC, one for the subcontractor and one for the requesting architect? Sometimes, IF the distributor is "lucky." Try TWELVE--when he isn't. Twelve? Are you kidding me?! Who's getting these samples? And what are THEY doing with them... over and over again?

Get a calculator and start adding this up, considering the time involved, the cost of the sample, and the cost of shipping:
  1. Distributor requests samples from manufacturer.
  2. Manufacturer ships to distributor.
  3. Distributor bundles all samples with submittal.
  4. Distributor ships to architect or GC.
  5. Architect or GC ships to sub and other(s).
Now, those of you who are concerned about the environment, waste, or wanting to be cost-efficient or maybe even profitable: what happens to these duplicate samples at the end of a project? I hope some LEED AP's are reading this because the USGBC needs to put some pressure on architects who request multiple product samples of items they have requested before. If you are an architect who commonly requests these samples, please, help me understand why!