One in five of the world’s 2,000 largest publicly listed companies has committed to a net-zero emissions target by 2050. In the household and personal products sector, more than two-thirds of the biggest companies by sales have made such a pledge.
The private sector’s commitment to reducing carbon footprint is growing, leading to increased demand for sustainable building practices. More and more, new and existing clients include such requests as they seek planning and construction of facilities, said Gary Walo, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, GGP Haskell Design Manager of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and co-chair of the company’s Sustainability Council.
“Now, every company understands the concept of sustainability, and most businesses are actively searching for Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) solutions that reduce their carbon footprints,” Walo said. “Younger generations’ passion for sustainability has now pushed the private sector to become more environmentally conscious. However, there is another factor at play here: long-term operating expense (OPEX) savings.”
Haskell is ranked No. 1 among GREEN Manufacturing & and Industrial Contractors and No. 2 among GREEN Manufacturing & and Industrial Designers by Engineering News-Record. It has not years, but decades of green-building experience. Walo can tell the story from the beginning – because he has been involved since 2001.
The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was created in 1993, and standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the most widely recognized sustainable building program, were first issued in March 2000.
Along with Sustainability co-chair Thomas Warner, Walo joined Haskell in 2001. His first assignment was to inspect its design specifications, revise them in accordance with LEED standards and coordinate with vendors to establish that building supplies – such as paints, laminates, wood and concrete – met the mark. Many didn’t.
“Haskell had clients wanting their projects to be LEED-certified, so I helped build out Haskell’s LEED program to meet this demand,” he said. “To do this, I had to contact all of Haskell’s contractors and materials suppliers to determine whether their processes met USGBC requirements. I developed the tools to be able to validate that, record it and submit it to obtain a certification.”
The first green building boom grew in popularity and availability until about 2010, when project owners found that the additional capital expense required produced little return. Their enthusiasm waned.
“Companies became more skeptical of green buildings due to facility costs increasing by around 5 to 7%,” Walo said. “At that time, there were very few economic incentives for continuing to build expensive green buildings, so demand slowed down.”
Of course, that dip in demand was temporary, and the importance of environmental stewardship has exploded in the years since. Twenty years ago, Walo said, 10 in 200 vendors he polled was familiar with the concept of sustainable building materials. Now, such awareness is ubiquitous.
Haskell has remained committed to green building throughout. Among its growing workforce, which now numbers more than 1,600 team members, are nearly 130 LEED-accredited professionals, many of whom hold certification by other sanctioning programs, such as Green Globe, Parksmart and WELL. To date, Haskell has built more than 15 million square feet of LEED-certified project area valued at more than $2.2 billion in 29 states and four different countries.
“Think of Haskell’s sustainability offerings like a restaurant menu,” Walo said. “The customers can pick and choose what they want, and Haskell will deliver it to them. LEED is stringent, and not all clients have the means to meet LEED requirements. Therefore, Haskell can work with customers to come up with a carbon footprint reduction plan that suits their needs. LEED certification is great, but there are lots of other methods for sustainable building. Haskell can deliver a wide variety of green design solutions, whether it’s LEED, WELL, Green Globe, or a custom-made plan for specific client requirements.”
Even now, the ends of sustainability certification, particularly the extremely stringent LEED v4.0, sometimes fall short of justifying the means necessary to achieve them. But Haskell collaborates with and advises project owners to help them make significant, cost-effective choices that achieve their goals of reducing carbon footprint.
Site planning can orient new facilities to maximize natural lighting. LED lighting, carpet that is low in volatile organic compounds (VOC), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing, variable-frequency drives (VFD) on HVAC system motors (and process equipment) and low-flush toilets are all effective and affordable solutions that can achieve valuable outcomes.
“Sustainable design improvements do more than just lower OPEX,” Walo said. “They improve the work environment. Sustainable buildings provide employees with a safer and healthier workplace.”
Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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