In 2005, after completing its first LEED project, Webcor Builders identified green building’s high quality and efficiency characteristics as client benefits and adopted a company-wide focus on sustainable construction. Its decision was not based on politics but rather on being a better company.
Webcor wanted to run a sustainable construction company that focused on both what it builds and how it conducts business. It was that desire that led the company to adopt sustainability as a core value and treat it as a company standard, just like safety. “You don’t have safe and unsafe jobsites; safety is something you do all the time in construction. We do the same with LEED building,” says Phil Williams, Webcor Builders vice president and head of its Sustainability Group. He adds that by requiring the same sustainable practices on every jobsite, the company improved its sustainable construction skills and gained efficiencies.
Last year, 98.6 percent of Webcor’s revenue stemmed from LEED projects, and more than half of its projects were built to LEED Gold or LEED Platinum standards. The company utilizes BIM on every job, offers complimentary LEED paperwork processing for clients, and strives to reduce waste through an integrated engineering approach that eliminates premium pricing for sustainable construction.
Here are more ways Webcor Builders is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a sustainable construction company:
- LEED education. Webcor pays the study and testing fees for employees who pursue LEED AP or LEED GA accreditation.
- Office supplies. Webcor works with major office supplier Staples to identify the highest recycled content office supplies during the online buying process.
- “Click Green.” Click Green is an online jobsite sustainability test every worker on a Webcor project must pass, just like the company’s safety test requirement.
- Waste-reducing initiatives in the office. Webcor offices offer recycling and composting bins, Webcor-branded water bottles that eliminate the need for disposable cups, and notebooks made from recycled blueprints.
- Waste-reducing initiatives in the field. Webcor requires construction waste recycling on each jobsite, with clearly marked containers for a variety of construction waste.
- Mass transit compensation to employees. Webcor compensates employees for bus, train and ferry passes when they utilize mass transit to and from work. “It’s an employee perk,” Williams says, “but the company benefits because we furnish less parking for employees.”
- Cash incentive for smaller trucks. Webcor offers a $1,500 cash incentive to its employees who choose a mid-size, company-furnished truck over a full-size truck. Webcor saves money in the long run because they pay less for the truck upfront, and with the more fuel-efficient mid-size trucks Webcor pays lower fuel costs. About 40% of eligible employees take advantage of this incentive.
- $200/month bike-to-work maintenance allowance. Webcor offers employees who choose to bike to and from work a $200/month maintenance payment for bicycle upkeep, roughly the same cost as the mass transit employee allowance. To counteract the reluctance some employees might have about lacking a vehicle at work, Webcor offers a free taxi ride in case of emergencies.
The future of sustainable construction
As sustainable construction evolves, the practices the industry considers progressive today will become commonplace and the industry will identify new practices that will define green building in the future. Williams sees new terminology on the horizon for the sustainable construction community: