Webcor Builders Embraces Sustainability at the Corporate Level

The San Francisco-based GC adopted a number of corporate practices and initiatives to help the company take its sustainability message beyond the field.

After completing its first LEED project in 2005, Webcor Builders made a corporate decision to become a sustainable construction company. It identified the quality and efficiency aspects of this type of construction as benefits to its clients, leading it to base its decision not on politics but rather about being a better business and delivering the buildings its clients desired.

In 2011, 98.6% of Webcor Builders’ revenue stemmed from LEED projects. Webcor Builders 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.

Phil Williams, Webcor Builders vice president and head of its Sustainability Group, says the company approaches sustainability the same way it approaches safety — as a company standard. “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,” Williams says. By requiring the same sustainable practices on every jobsite, the company has gotten better at building this way and gained efficiency, he adds.

Sustainability is one of Webcor Builders’ core values. The company embraces it from management, office and field perspectives. Webcor Builders also supports the message beyond its own walls by taking on a leadership role throughout the sustainable construction community, working to develop sustainability standards on city and state levels and being heavily involved in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Williams says LEED is a solid metric for green building in the U.S. and globally, but his company views it as a baseline and sets its standards higher. The company pushes its suppliers to be more sustainable and tracks its carbon accounting through the California Climate Action Registry in three scopes: fuel consumption, purchased utilities and everything they subcontract (concrete, steel, pipe duct and everything else they buy).

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 to 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.
  • Energy-saving warehouse initiative. Through several changes at its equipment warehouse, Webcor reduced its monthly energy bill from $2,500/month to $500/month. Read more about the changes in “Green Steps Will Lead to Higher Profits."
  • Mass transit compensation to employees. Webcor offers employees compensation 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 are paying less for the truck upfront, and with the more fuel-efficient mid-size trucks Webcor also has lower fuel costs. About 40% of eligible employees take advantage of this incentive.
  • Bike-to-work maintenance allowance. Webcor offers employees who choose to bike to and from work a monthly maintenance payment for bicycle upkeep, roughly the same cost as the mass transit employee allowance. To help counteract the reluctance some employees might have about being without a vehicle during the day, Webcor offers a free taxi ride in case of emergencies.

Read about sustainability on the concrete jobsite in this article, “The Green Standard,” about Webcor Concrete, Webcor Builders’ concrete construction division.