Case study Turner Construction Company

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Turner Construction is the largest commercial construction firm in the US, with annual revenues of more than $7 billion in 2005.10 In 2004, Turner's then-CEO Thomas Leppert announced a formal commitment ("Turner Green") to sustainable construction and business practices, as a means to continue strengthening Turner's leadership position.11 Leppert asserted that Turner's plan to be the leading responsible builder is good for the environment, and also for building owners, developers and occupants. Equally important, he stated that these practices are good for the bottom line and serve as an example to the entire construction industry. As the largest firm in the industry, Turner has effectively thrown down the gauntlet for other major construction firms wanting to compete with it. This was an extremely important development for the growth of the green building industry, since most building owners and developers rely heavily on the advice of their contractors in deciding to adopt green building design for their projects.

By early 2007, Turner had made great progress in LEED projects. The company reported that it had completed 34 LEED-certified projects and had completed or is currently working on more than 65 additional LEED-registered projects. In addition, Turner has completed or has under contract more than 195 projects with green building elements.12

As announced, the "Turner Green" program consisted of:

• Construction site recycling on all Turner projects, not just green design projects. Recycling efforts will be phased in until Turner reaches 100 percent. Turner estimates that it will recycle 75,000 tons of construction waste in 2007 alone.

• Ensuring that over time, all Turner field offices will incorporate field waste-recycling programs, energy-efficient lighting, operable windows for natural ventilation and water-efficient fixtures.

• Instituting a major green training program for Turner employees. Turner's online tool, Turner Knowledge Network, helps employees learn about the LEED standard, adds to their knowledge of green field operations guidelines. (In our view, this internal training role is critical to the marketing of the green capability and is often overlooked, especially in the construction field. Without internal training, it is difficult if not impossible for a company to "walk the talk." We discuss this issue at greater length in Chapter 10, as "Internal Marketing".)

• Increasing the number of Turner's LEED APs (at April 2007, the number stood at about 260).

• Creating an advisory council of outside industry experts to provide objective advice on sustainable design best practices and to drive their adoption with the company and its clients.

• Naming a Senior Vice President to lead Turner's Center of Excellence, to link Turner's local and national green information.

"From now on, whenever businesses consider undertaking a new building project they should first think green, and then think of Turner because we have the resources, the experience and the knowledge to do green right," Leppert said.

One of the projects Turner completed in 2003, The Genzyme Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the first large LEED Platinum-rated building. Within Genzyme's budget, Turner was able to incorporate innovative features including sun-tracking mirrors to direct daylight into the building, natural ventilation using the atrium, and a double-skin exterior wall and extensive indoor gardens for the enjoyment of occupants and to improve indoor air quality. During procurement, Turner helped Genzyme and the design team to ensure that the contract documents incorporated the green elements desired by Genzyme and that subcontract bidders used cost-effective products and methods to achieve the LEED Platinum rating within the budget constraints.

Also in 2003, Turner was able to partner with Toyota Motor Sales, USA to develop a LEED Gold-certified building in Torrance, California, that cost no more than a traditionally constructed building. The Toyota Motor Sales - South Campus building consists of 636,000 square feet (58,000 sqm) on a 38 acre (16 hectare) site. Used as administrative offices, it features 53,000 square feet (4867 sqm) of rooftop PV panels that can generate 550 kilowatts of electricity -or about 20 percent of its total energy usage. Its first cost was competitive with the cost of similar, conventional office buildings.

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