Building green isn’t just a trend—it’s a responsibility. In 2021, several STOBG companies signed on to the Contractor’s Commitment, a pledge created by contractors for contractors, to set sustainability targets and measure their progress—divided into Good, Better, or Best tiers. Over the last two years, those early signatories were able to provide valuable input to make the Commitment even stronger and more impactful.
“Being one of the early signatories for the Contractor’s Commitment has been so critical for BCCI,” says BCCI Construction senior director of marketing, Cynthia Gage. “You’re in the room with a project team and you’re able to have real-life, on-the-ground conversations about sustainability and what makes a difference in construction.”
By pledging to the Contractor’s Commitment, BCCI, Ajax Building Company, Abbott Construction Los Angeles, and Structure Tone New York joined a larger movement to impact the sustainability of building projects and inspired others, including subcontractors and clients, to follow suit.
“We initially proposed the Contractor’s Commitment to Structure Tone New York because New York’s best practices were in most alignment with what it entails,” says Jennifer Taranto, STO Building Group vice president of sustainability. “We received plenty of support from our president, Mike Neary, and we saw that this would be meaningful for our clients.”
Two years into the Commitment, and the STOBG teams have seen progress and efficiencies in several facets of construction.
Waste diversion is one area where all four STOBG companies report clear success. “Many of the goals at the Good tier, including waste management, are already what we require of our projects,” says Teresa Fait, project manager at Abbott Construction in Los Angeles. “The Commitment gives us added framework for educating and tracking.”
Similarly, BCCI was already complying with California’s stringent sustainability requirements, and they were empowered by the Contractor’s Commitment to take things a step further and build more waste management tactics into each stage of a project. According to Priyanka Jinsiwale, project manager of sustainability and ESG at BCCI, the company is committed to standardizing waste diversion practices on all of their projects.
“Ensuring early engagement is conducted on all projects and integrated into our project workflow is key since these metrics need to be tracked consistently. We’ve created several implementation tools and templates to help.”Priyanka Jinsiwale, Project Manager, Sustainability & ESG
Structure Tone NY uses on-site source separation methods for select waste streams to increase the landfill diversion rate, rather than commingling all of the discarded materials in a single dumpster. “Although there are space limitations on our jobsites, we’ve found tremendous success with our closed-loop gypsum recycling efforts,” says Ryan Hughes, Structure Tone NY sustainability manager.
Local wallboard manufacturers such as USG and CertainTeed/Saint-Gobain take back the site-separated drywall trim scrap and use it as feedstock to create new products. “We’re also separating wood and metal on select projects and working with partners to recycle our carpet scraps as another way to contribute to the circular economy,” Hughes adds. By salvaging, donating, and reusing existing materials even before demolition, the Structure Tone team was able to achieve the Commitment’s Better tier. NYC also has the benefit of using Cooper Recycling, a nearby materials recovery facility with an RCI-certification that demonstrates best-in-class sorting practices.
Although carbon tracking was not a new task for Ajax, applying an anti-idling practice on all sites was a recent change for the company. Ajax’s anti-idling policy mandates that all engines—from passenger vehicles to construction equipment—must be turned off when not in use.
“Some people had a habit of getting out of their truck and running into the trailer for a meeting while the truck’s still running,” says Rowdy Francis, Ajax quality manager. “We’ve now addressed that. It’s a small thing but it reminds everyone to be more cognizant.”
BCCI also took their efforts on carbon tracking up a level since signing the Commitment. The team proactively began analyzing their baseline and identified areas of improvement. “Although 30% of our projects are required to be tracked under the guidelines of the Contractor’s Commitment, BCCI is aiming to track 80% of our projects,” says Jiniswale. As a new service offering, Structure Tone NY has also begun to track embodied carbon for projects seeking to measure their environmental impacts associated with materials and worker commutes.
Structure Tone has implemented various measures to monitor and reduce their utility consumption, but tracking and documenting those efforts at first posed a challenge. The team has since found an innovative solution to help, says Hughes. WASHBOX monitors temporary water use on-site and reuses the greywater during construction to reduce overall consumption.
Abbott also leverages partners to find new and improved tracking methods. “We are using the Contractor’s Commitment tracking template that a partner company showed us,” says Fait. “Each category has a field where project teams can provide feedback on how the goals were achieved—was it difficult, was there a cost impact, etc.”
With increasing global attention to mental health and wellness and the encouragement of the Contractor’s Commitment, all four STOBG signatories have made jobsite wellness a priority. Each company has regular and frequent wellness breaks—whether educating teams to stretch and flex before work or promoting health habits such as taking a break or staying hydrated.
Ultimately, the impact of signing the Contractor’s Commitment illustrates how each business unit is working to consistently implement best practices—which reinforces our Quality 360º program, striving to deliver the highest quality in everything we do.
5 CATEGORIES OF THE CONTRACTOR”S COMMITMENT
Contractors who sign the Commitment pledge to meet a series of goals in five categories
- Carbon Reduction: How well a contractor reduce carbon emissions
- Jobsite Wellness: Fostering wellness (clean air, nourishment, mental health, etc.) for anyone working on-site or in jobsite offices
- Waste Management: Promoting waste diversion, whether seeking green building certification or not
- Water Management: Assessing risks to prevent water pollution
- Material Selection: Assessing and selecting healthy and sustainable materials
In the modern era of sustainable building, human health and well-being continue to be at the forefront. The WELL Building Standard remains the leading tool for upgrading the physical environment of a building through improvements to air, water, light, acoustics, and other factors. Now more than ever, companies are looking to the design and construction industry to help enhance the occupant experience, whether pursuing the WELL Building Standard for the first time or preparing to recertify their space.
For businesses that have attained WELL certification, the recertification process enables them to renew their commit to health and wellness in their policies and the operation of their built environment. Once a company’s space is WELL certified, it must recertify after three years to ensure it continues to meet the rigorous standards and optimizes occupant health and productivity. But what happens if the rating system updates to a newer version or the goals of the organization shift? BCCI Construction’s Professional Service team weighs in on that question and shares tips to prepare for recertification.
Determine your goal. According to BCCI director of sustainability, wellness, & ESG Kena David, there is an advantage to upgrading to a newer version if a company wishes to pursue a higher certification level. For instance, “WELL v2 allows for more flexibility and offers more optimizations to aid in the pursuit of obtaining Gold certification if a company is currently at the WELL v1 Silver level,” she says.
Document annual maintenance and service. Regardless of whether a company decides to upgrade, the first step is to make sure yearly reporting is complete. This includes mechanical maintenance, janitorial maintenance, and occupant surveys. “We tend to check in with our clients who have just achieved certification and ask if they liked our help with annual maintenance and reporting services,” says David. “We want to make sure they’re prepared every step of the way.”
Plan ahead. When the decision has been made to reapply for WELL v1 or to upgrade to v2, gather all documentation, along with any annual reporting, policy and design changes, and performance testing completed within at least 6 to 12 months before enrolling for recertification. “A month or two before that three-year mark is when a company should get re-engaged to assess what needs to be updated,” says David. “Then we can correspond with the review team and get the on-site testing to happen within about six months of their timeframe, which would be ideal.”
Check what’s new. COVID-19 undoubtedly influenced how we maintain our spaces, especially in communal areas and regarding indoor air quality. Some of the COVID response has benefited WELL projects with air quality now monitored more closely, as mechanical and building engineers maintain better records and have increased filtration and frequency of cleaning. Other aspects of the COVID response that have changed operations are substituting fresh fruits, vegetables, and salad bars with prepackaged, processed foods to avoid potential viral contamination. Before recertifying, project teams should assess these types of policy changes that may affect their company’s WELL recertification.
Communicate and coordinate. In the event that policies have changed or the physical space has been renovated, David says that defining a schedule for quarterly check-ins is critical to staying on track with WELL recertification. Reengaging with your WELL consultant also helps keep the recertification process organized and efficient.
Consider cost. Lastly, project teams should consider the cost of recertification, particularly if there might have been alterations to the space or building that will affect the cost of recertification. According to David, the project team or WELL consultant should have a good line of sight to the budgetary implications and understand the client’s fiscal year. That way they know the best time to have the budget conversation and make sure there are no surprises down the line.
“One of the unique benefits of the work we’ve been doing with the recertification process is our continued relationships with our clients,” says David. “BCCI’s Professional Services Group continues to be the go-to for clients looking to pursue their recertification, not just the initial certification when they’re going through a build.”
Cynthia Gage, Director, Marketing | BCCI Construction
We are proud to announce the release of our first-ever Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report, which provides details about our company’s operations and commitments related to three key areas: our people, the environment, and our communities. The report emphasizes our long-term commitment to encouraging a culture of transparency and responsible business practices as an IWBI Just Organization and showcases examples of our progress supporting social equity, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability in the built environment. It also provides an overview of our business goals in the year ahead.
“Together, we envision a more sustainable and resilient future by staying firmly committed to our people, making a positive environmental impact, and channeling creativity and innovation into a force for good.”Michael Scribner, President and CEO, BCCI Construction
Our in-house sustainability group compiled the report, supported by a cohort of representatives from our Human Resources, Marketing, and Finance departments and internal committees, including Community Builders, Sustainability Builders, and our Social Justice Focus Group.
To learn more about the impact and outcomes of our CSR efforts, click here to read the full 2020 CSR Report.
Wynd Podcast with Kena David, BCCI Construction and Max Kiefer, Wynd
Kena David, Director of Sustainability, Wellness & ESG for BCCI Construction and Max Kiefer, Global Alliances Lead for Wynd Technologies, discuss changing dynamics in construction and a greater focus on air quality in the built environment.
Max Kiefer: Hello listeners and thank you for joining another week’s podcast from Wynd entitled ESG 123. This is Max Kiefer, and I am the host of the podcast. I am also the head of Sustainability for Wynd, and Wynd focuses on air quality monitoring and purification technology. This week we’re very excited to have Kena join us. Kena and I have known each other for over ten years in sustainability and the green building environment. She comes to us from BCCI Construction. She has a background sustainability, green building, and environmental chemistry, and also as mentioned, she leads the BCCI Sustainability and Wellness team. In addition to her LEED AP, WELL AP and Fitwel Ambassador credentials, Kena is a WELL faculty member. That is a group that provides education and training on the WELL Building Standard and contributes to program development. We’ll touch upon a number of those different building certifications, not only how they apply to building a building, but then also the operations and maintenance after the building has been completed. In addition to that part of the podcast, we will talk about Kena’s other areas that she’s focused on. She has served as the chair of BCCI’s Community Builders philanthropic group, helped found the Sustainable Builders and Social Justice Focus Groups, as well as managed BCCI’s Just Label. We have a very exciting podcast with her, and a lot of good information to cover. Thank you for tuning in this week, and I encourage the group to follow up and listen to upcoming weeks as well.
Kiefer: Hello, Kena. How’s everything going?
David: Good, how are you doing, Max?
Kiefer: Yeah, doing well. I’m glad that we got a chance to make this happen. As I mentioned before, we’re lucky to have Kena here as an expert on a number of different areas of sustainability. To our listeners that are just tuning in this week, I do encourage you to check out a few weeks ago when we had Drew Shula on, he’s the founder of the largest Net Zero Conference. One of the reasons we’re excited to have Kena here is that Drew laid the foundation on everything sustainability at a high level. Kena comes to us from not only a general contracting and a construction background, but also with a chemistry background, and she knows her way around indoor air quality and a few other components. So maybe this is a good place to start here. Kena, we obviously connected when I was at CBRE in the construction management side of things. I think you would be a very great resource for our listeners to hear how construction is really focused on not only just looking at one time and place and building a building. But if you call it a lifecycle analysis, what goes into not only building a building and then after the fact, once it’s been completed, handing it off to the other folks or other teams, and having them work together. So maybe that’s a good place to start, and we’ll go from there.
David: Yeah. I’ve been part of BCCI, which is a general contractor headquartered in the Bay Area, for over ten years. And in that time, I think construction has really understood that their impact on global carbon emissions is significant. About 39% of greenhouse gas emissions comes from the built environment. A portion of that is design and construction, and actually the things that go into building a building. The other part of that is operating the building. The trends, especially in California, with the green building codes have been really to reduce the demand of energy. Now we’re seeing a lot of buildings move towards electrification and getting away from natural gas. But as far as the impact of a contractor, it really comes down to onsite practices, lowering your embodied carbon for better materials, anti-idling plans onsite, lean construction practices, and better delivery schedules. Really simple things that we didn’t really think about as much as an industry that we’re starting to move more towards for projects, regardless of any sort of LEED or WELL or Living Building Challenge certification.
Kiefer: That’s very well said. One of our other interviewees, if you will, was Dustin Healer. He was over at Steelcase, and he was talking about embodied carbon. We’ll probably get into it more later in the podcast in terms of how these materials really fit into not only achieving some building certifications, but also the air quality. Maybe that’s the place to start is on the air quality front. I will give a refresher, no pun intended, to our listeners that Wynd is focused on air quality monitoring as well as purification technology. We were lucky enough to put together a number of case studies with BCCI. This is kind of an open-ended question. I know it’s always kind of changing, but really, you and I have been in this air quality space for a number of years now. I started my air quality journey, if we want to call it that at Healthy Buildings International, and that was in 2010. Won’t date myself too much here, but I have seen how focus on air quality has changed over the years. I’ve been with Wynd since 2019; Wynd has been around since 2014. And I remember it really just focused on not only the fires that we’re facing here in California, but how we get people focused on air quality in general. And that was obviously pre-pandemic, and now I’m not even going to say post-pandemic, we’re really still in it. So, with that, I will stop talking and ask you what is your take on these last few years? And just as importantly, how you see the built environment changing, geared more towards air quality and how it’s being addressed maybe even earlier on in the building of a building process.
David: Well, I think the one thing that COVID has really done in the built environment is acknowledge the importance of healthy air, and that is for any type of space, whether it be our home, a public space, an office, a stadium where we can watch the Celtics beat the Warriors. You know. Having that level of understanding of importance for really anyone, not just mechanical engineers and contractors, etc. We are seeing increases in filtration for mechanical systems. In California, they actually increased the code minimum from MERV 8 to MERV 13. What that really means is they’re collecting the finer particles that are being circulated from the outdoors in, but that does not address the recirculated air indoors in our spaces. That is really why we wanted to get engaged with Wynd on our space since we don’t have the control over the recirculated systems being a tenant in our office in San Francisco. Having that level of assurance with the filtration, the air purification systems you guys have, as well as that air quality monitoring is really something that we wanted to assure ourselves when we were returning to the office in May 2020. Since then we’ve had, I believe, still zero reported cases of transfer of COVID within our office, which is pretty cool. But COVID aside, air quality is really paramount for cognitive function in our spaces. At the International WELL Building Institute, IWBI, of which I’m a WELL faculty member, we really focus on the importance of air quality and all of these other parameters that help occupants optimize their life and their health and their productivity in these spaces. I think with the pandemic, with the information about cognitive function and fires in general, climate change, air quality is going to continue to be something that we focus on. And I’m going to just keep talking here.
Kiefer: This is great. Thank you.
David: As we look towards the future of sustainability, I think we really need to start to identify the relationship between energy use for indoor controlled air and air quality. And how can we monitor our indoor air quality in order to reduce the energy usage of bringing in that outdoor air? How can we use better technology in our buildings to really have the intersection of good air quality and lower energy usage?
Kiefer: Well said. And you had me thinking because CBRE was in Salesforce Tower, don’t get me wrong, there’s Class A offices, but we’ve gotten pulled into a number of schools. And I think the school side of it, nothing new in terms of the filters, and it’s HEPA certified and HEPA True filters that we put into our purifiers. But one of the elements that we found is you couldn’t put a HEPA filter into commercial ductwork or it would just disintegrate. The idea that a lot of these buildings, maybe they don’t have the means to make upgrades to their systems. Schools, thankfully, are getting more attention and/or more funding, especially from a federal standpoint where they say, okay, it’s finding the sweet spot between the two. It’s a balancing act between putting in the localized purifiers and sensors. Sensors are more to collect the data just to even figure out what’s going on. I think you made a great point in terms of WELL, IWBI and then the Harvard study on cognitive ability. A lot of places are starting on carbon dioxide. But that was an excellent point. Many excellent points, I should say.
David: The other thing I’ll mention right now is I’m part of a peer network with BuildingGreen, so sustainable engineers, design, and construction leaders. And we put out a paper, a white paper, about the considerations for continuous air quality monitoring. This is really focused on an office environment. And we’re currently working on a little bit more of that K-12/other types of buildings that haven’t focused on this, and the relationship between the energy piece. So, my plug is to look out for that. But it’s something that we’re all starting to talk about in the building sector.
Kiefer: Awesome. Thank you. And thank you for pulling that all together because as we just hit on, there’s a number of different parties and companies. I’m sure you’ve seen just in terms of building a building, how many different companies are involved and subs on there. But that is a nice segue. I encourage the group to check out some of the links. I will make sure that everyone has access to all those reports and studies, especially from the building part in terms of materials. I did, as we have Kena on the podcast, want to talk at more of a macro level of what companies can do as a whole. So, when Drew was on, Drew Shoola from Vertical Group, he had talked about B Corp. B Corp works, especially if companies are looking at becoming a public benefit corporation in the future. Another nice, dare I say, alternative and Kena can correct me if that’s not how it’s positioned, but is the Just label through ILFI. So, ILFI, for those who are not familiar, is the International Living Future Institute. They also have the Living Building Challenge, which when I was more familiar with it, was even more challenging to achieve level than the LEED’s and the WELL’s and the Fitwel’s of the world. But maybe two sides of that, because not only is Kena involved with WELL, being a WELL faculty member, but could you walk our listeners through what that Just label is for businesses and maybe the best places that they can start on that journey?
David: Yeah. The Just label is a social justice transparency label for organizations. And it really looks at metrics about equity, diversity, stewardship, community engagement, health benefits to employees. And it’s really seen as kind of a nutrition label of social justice and equity for an organization. I will kind of back up a little bit too, and share about BCCI’s journey with Just. We’ve had a Sustainability group since 2006, but in my ten years at the company, it’s really shaped from just green building to green building, wellness, sustainability, and ESG. ESG for those listeners who don’t know, is environmental, social, and governance. Our commitment to WELL and indoor air quality is part of that social piece of ESG that we see. We also have LEED certifications in our offices. But as part of the governance piece, we wanted to benchmark how we’re doing with social justice metrics. So, we had our first Just Label back in 2014 when it was first launched. We were actually the first contractor to ever receive a Just Label and the 10th Just Label overall. Since then, we have renewed every two years. We’re on our fifth Just Label now. And really what it’s done for us, is allowed us to look at these different metrics such as gender, pay equity, and figure out how we want to either do nothing or close the gap and get more stars. Identifying as a female, I am really proud that we have moved up in that rank, but we also look at things like charitable giving, so we’ve looked at how many volunteer hours we have through our Community Builders program and how many donations we make on an annual basis. Do we want to increase that based on our profitability? Is it something we’re okay with? And that all has been really dictated by the Just Label’s guidelines. Once you see your score on a page, leadership really wants to improve, right? So, looking at the metrics that are meaningful to us is something that’s been a really great thing; that we’ve been progressing as a leadership group at BCCI.
Kiefer: Well said. I got lost in your explanation of it. I almost forgot to read my script here of the next question. So in closing, it’s a nice segue. And last but not least is that I know you’re very involved in CREW. To our listeners, that’s Commercial Real Estate Women’s network. You’d hit on that in a couple of pieces here. Partly on the DEI, but also on the Just Label – another good place for people to get involved. I know a number of our own employees are looking to get involved in San Francisco-based events, but could you touch upon what your involvement in that network has been, and also how our listeners can get involved there as well?
David: Yeah, CREW is an international organization, and the focus of CREW is to develop and advance women as leaders in commercial real estate. That being said, it is not a women exclusive organization. It is really just to advance diversity in commercial real estate. My involvement with CREW really goes back probably eight years. I was the founder of the Rising Leaders Committee within CREW San Francisco, and since then, I’ve been part of a number of different committees. I’ve served on the board of directors for CREW San Francisco, and currently, I am the CREW Foundation champion. CREW at the international level has a 501(c)(3) organization, and that goes towards scholarships of women in the industry and also industry research and benchmarking studies. The benchmarking studies happen every five years, and it’s really about all factors and backgrounds in commercial real estate. That industry group is actually the leading organization putting out studies and metrics about diversity and inclusion in commercial real estate. If people really want to get involved in creating more diversity in the future of commercial real estate, CREW is an excellent organization to not only get information from, but also help with the industries that you have locally. There’s chapters everywhere. There’s a national network, but CREW San Francisco is where I’ve served most of my time.
Kiefer: Very well said. And I promise I will attend one of the upcoming events here.
David: It’s not a women’s only organization.
Kiefer: Just to reiterate. I know you brought that up. I will show up.
David: It is funny, though, my CEO actually went to a CREW luncheon with me, and he said he felt uncomfortable because he was one of the only men. And I turned right back and looked at him and said, well, that’s how we all feel in meetings.
Kiefer: Good for you.
David: Or on job sites.
Kiefer: Right you are. Well said. Nice. Okay, then as a great segue, I had another kind of thought on the fly here. We have just done individual interviews. I think this was great in terms of talking about business certifications as well as on the construction, the operations, and maintenance. If you’re open to it, and not to put you on the spot here, I’d almost want to have another podcast interview that digs a little bit deeper into the energy efficiency standpoint. Maybe we could have a couple of people join or get a panel going. So, if you’re open to that, we’d love to have you back on a future recording.
David: Yeah, definitely. I think there’s a lot going on in the “sustainability” world here, and DEI is a really big topic. ESG is a really big topic. Embodied carbon, energy efficiency, indoor air quality. There’s an endless amount of things that you can do and look at. What I would say is, don’t get overwhelmed. Start small. There’s always tomorrow.
Kiefer: I love it. Okay, well, thank you, Kena, for joining. And we’ll close on a “Go Warriors.” No, I won’t say that. No, “Go Celtics.” Diversity, inclusion. I’m for the best. Hopefully a good game.
David: May the best team win.
Kiefer: There you go. Thank you, Kena. Thanks for joining.
Halie Colbourne, Sustainability Associate and Matthew Koester, Sustainability Coordinator | BCCI Construction
This year, BCCI’s Sustainability Team had the privilege of participating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s GreenerBuilder Conference, San Francisco’s premier venue for architects, contractors, owners and other green building professionals to learn about cutting edge projects and latest trends in the Bay Area.
The conference opened with Vien Truong, CEO of The Dream Corps, who led the opening plenary. The Dream Corps champions nationwide policy to advocate for and address the needs of disadvantaged communities. Truong wove several threads, including the effects of poor air and water quality on Oakland and Flint-raised children, renewable energy, and state policy into a moral imperative for green building. In building inclusively and designing to mitigate the impacts on water and air quality, Truong notes that we have an opportunity to lift up disenfranchised communities and employ the community in a green economy. This theme was carried throughout the rest of the conference.
The first session focused on Rebuilding Resiliency, a crucial topic in the Bay Area due to the devastating wildfires that seem to occur during any season in California now. Led by Ann Edminster (Design AVEnues), Robin Stephani (8th Wave) and Bob Massaro (Health Buildings) the panelists shared solutions such as the urgency for cities to develop temporary housing ordinances. The idea is to utilize prefabricated housing for temporary use during and after natural disasters, similar to what Homes for Sonoma has been doing since the massive wildfires erupted in the North Bay last October. The speaker’s firms are actively working towards connecting wildfire victims with tax credits and rebates to rebuild their homes with features including Energy Star appliances, solar panels and passive heating and cooling systems. Massaro said Healthy Building’s projects are moving away from using natural gas as this can cause dangerous flare ups in the aftermath of these wildfires. He further explains that when building for a homeowner, his firm analyzes their fire insurance policy to pressure the company to finance these measures. The panelists also noted that the wildfires can still impact buildings throughout the Bay Area with high levels of particulate matter. Indoor air quality is a major component of LEED and WELL projects, and smoke/particulate matter (PM) levels become a concern when most building systems have to accommodate a minimum level of outside air. It is important to realize that wildfires directly impacting residential homes in Northern California can also indirectly impact commercial buildings in the city. Focusing on resilient building practices supports the green economy and reinforces the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.
The session Women in Green: The Power of Diversity was another wonderful session led by Gabrielle Bullock (Perkins+Will), Kimberley Lewis (USGBC) and Andrea Traber (Integral Group) who highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Bullock began Perkins&Will’s Diversity + Inclusion + Engagement council in 2014 as a way to foster their culture’s talent and engagement, and to create a “diverse and inclusive practice and profession”. Bullock shared some of their focus areas such as recruitment, retention and mitigating unconscious biases. At the onset of this council, they measured their workforce gender balance, finding that women in leadership make up 25 percent where the AIA (American Institute of Architects) industry average is a mere 17 percent; in 2014, 44 percent of their workforce was comprised of women. Through their devotion to diversity and inclusion they have managed to increase their percentage to 48 percent women in the span of four years.
Their commitment to workplace diversity has produced impressive project wins as their clients are looking for diversity in a project team. Traber elaborated on these metrics mentioning the International Living Future Institute’s JUST Label which has helped Integral Group quantify similar metrics around gender equality and transparency. As a participant of the JUST Label, we were pleased to hear other companies using the JUST Label as a metric. BCCI committed to its JUST Label in 2014 and since becoming a JUST company has been able to benchmark, create and improve existing policies, as well as utilize the platform to increase our company transparency. The JUST Label allows companies to understand where there might be room for improvement. BCCI is currently working on obtaining better data in the Equity category as a commitment to one of our core values, Transparency, and to continue to strive for authenticity and equality in the workplace.
As Kimberly Lewis, USGBC’s Senior Vice President stated, progress towards a green economy has not been without its moral challenges. From building resiliency for natural disasters to increasing equity in the workplace, we are excited to see these challenges being addressed by visionaries like Truong and our green building community. In Truong’s words, we will continue to “build up, build power and build the future.”
For the last two years, the Sustainable Construction Leaders (SCL) group, facilitated by BuildingGreen, has been working on an initiative to redefine the idea of what it means to be a green contractor—and it’s called the “Contractor’s Commitment.”
STO Building Group’s involvement with this cause runs deep. In 2018, STOBG director of sustainability, Jennifer Taranto, and the director of sustainability for Consigli Construction, Steven Burke, helped BuildingGreen form the Sustainable Construction Leaders network, which also includes BCCI Construction’s director of sustainability, Kena David.
Together, the group developed this idea of a commitment to better illustrate the contractor’s role in sustainable building.
“We recognize that the way the industry currently decides who is a green contractor is based on the company’s green revenue,” says Taranto. “The Contractor’s Commitment was born out of this idea to emphasize our deeper role in and commitment to building sustainably.”
CONTRACTOR’S COMMITMENT GUIDELINES
Officially launched as a pilot program last fall, the Contractor’s Commitment is becoming the standard for evaluating a contractor’s sustainability progress—divided into a “good,” “better,” or “best” rating. Contractors who sign the commitment pledge to meet a series of goals in five categories:
- Carbon Reduction: How well a contractor reduces carbon emissions
- Jobsite Wellness: Fostering wellness (clean air, nourishment, mental health, etc.) for anyone working on the jobsite
- Waste Management: Promoting waste diversion, whether seeking green building certification or not Water Management Assessing risks to prevent water pollution
- Water Management: Assessing risks to prevent water pollution
- Material Selection: Assessing and selecting healthy and sustainable materials
BCCI and Ajax Building Company were the first STO Building Group members to sign the commitment, and Structure Tone New York and Structure Tone Southwest are in the process—with several more STOBG companies in the works.
“For BCCI, we identified what systems we had in place, what we measured and tracked, and what would be a lift. We created a detailed plan specific to each project and role on the project. We also created resources for project teams to use and customize to help with implementation.”Kena David, Director, Sustainability, BCCI Construction
STOBG sustainability leaders across the organization are also taking up the mantle and driving change through the Contractor’s Commitment, developing scope language for subcontractors, protocols for material data collection, processes for more robust waste diversion, and means for tracking jobsite carbon. BCCI is in the process of creating and normalizing a construction waste signage package that would tie to a color-coding system for source separating materials onsite. Complementing STOBG’s already robust Safety 360⁰ program, waste diversion processes will tie into general material handling initiatives and layer in health and wellness measures.
BCCI Construction for The LEADER Magazine
Implementing green building strategies has increasingly become the norm for many projects across the country, both large and small. As more companies choose to implement sustainable strategies into the design and construction of their projects, the questions inevitably become, “Should we pursue LEED certification, and how much will it impact our budget?”
The Alternative to Certification, Equivalency
In an attempt to avoid the inherent costs of LEED documentation while maintaining a benchmark by which to measure the project’s sustainability goals, some projects are pursuing what is commonly referred to as LEED equivalency. In other words, using the framework of the LEED Rating System as guidance throughout the design and construction process, without enduring the time and effort to compile and submit the documentation for review to GBCI. By making assumptions and using rough estimations, projects that are targeting LEED equivalency instead of formal certification may be able to reduce or eliminate many of the costs associated with LEED documentation.
Time, Cost Reduction vs. Recognition, Marketability
In theory, the idea of LEED equivalency has merit since project teams still incorporate the stringent set of standards required by LEED while significantly reducing the time and costs involved with documentation. In practice, however, LEED equivalency does not always work because the project’s sustainability achievements are not verified by an independent body nor are they recognized by the building community at large. Projects pursuing LEED equivalency must forfeit the marketability that comes with formal certification, less they run the risk of being accused of “greenwashing” – making environmental claims without any basis to back them up.
As with any green building strategy or product, when choosing whether to pursue LEED certification or opt for LEED equivalency, owners and projects teams must evaluate their intentions behind seeking a formal certification. Ultimately it all comes down to the time-old question: What are the costs and what are the benefits?
Read full article in The LEADER January/February 2012: 32-34.
Learn more about BCCI’s LEED Consulting Services.