ST. LOUIS -- Building "green" is easy when you've been doing it as long as design/build firm Clayco Inc.
"It's funny, we've been committed to building 'green' since 1984--it just wasn't something we really 'marketed' because it is so ingrained in our culture and everyday normal business practice," said Clayco National Director of Business Development Financial Facilities Tom Lombardo.
The firm's efforts haven't gone unnoticed--Clayco recently ranked 10th in the Engineering News Record's Top 50 Green Contractors for 2007. The list ranks contractors based on 2006 revenue from projects that were either registered or certified with a major third-party environmental standards or ratings group. Clayco's ranking was based on $210 million in sustainable project revenue, comprising 33% of Clayco's total revenue.
"It was great to be recognized since this is what we've always done from including the most energy efficient systems and using a high percentage of recycled content materials to efficiently laying out our clients' buildings to control storm water," said Electrical Engineer/Director of Sustainable Construction Paul Todd Merrill. "It is only recently within the past five years that our practices have become more formalized in the 'green' rating system."
Merrill said the greatest challenge green building faces are the myths that the projects are extremely expensive, take longer to build and that the certification process is too cumbersome and complicated.
"It goes back to education and that is what we do. We help our clients understand what it means to build green and walk them through the certification process so it isn't so daunting," said Merrill. "The old stigma that used to be associated with building green is gone and it is very corporate and mainstream today. The certification process itself is becoming more streamlined so tracking and documenting green efforts is easier now."
Here is how Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation works. Depending on the type of building retail or residential and other factors, the US Green Building Council provides a measuring yardstick of points; so for example, a building that meets 26 of those standards earns LEED certification.
With Clayco buildings achieving 19 points on the USGBC's standards as part of its normal business practice, Merrill says clients are already ahead in the "green" game.
"The building impact on the environment is significant, and we're proud to be a responsible builder," said Merrill. "Nearly one-third of our clients ask about LEED certification. When they don't, we recommend sustainable practices that can be implemented into their project, whether they want to pursue certification or not. A lot of cities require some recycled materials at a job site eventually we'll see this as a standard in the industry and there is a real opportunity there for credit unions to become the leaders in sustainable practices."
Clayco currently has 44 LEED Accredited Professionals and provides two-day, in-house training called "LEED-apolooza." Clayco's portfolio of LEED projects includes more than 30 facilities either completed, in design, or under construction.
"Not too long ago the builder view of environmentalists was an almost confrontational type relationship but that dynamic has completely changed to where green practices need to be an ongoing way of life," said Clayco Financial Facilities Vice President Paul Barrath. "And as time goes on it will not only be more accepted but more of the standard in building practices. So we've really been leaders in this since it's something that's just ingrained in our culture and we've been doing all along because it is the right thing to do for the environment and our clients."