Committing to a Greener, Healthier, and More Sustainable Built World
For the last two years, the Sustainable Construction Leaders (SCL) group, facilitated by BuildingGreen, has been working on an initiative to redefine the idea of what it means to be a green contractor—and it’s called the “Contractor’s Commitment.”
STO Building Group’s involvement with this cause runs deep. In 2018, STOBG director of sustainability, Jennifer Taranto, and the director of sustainability for Consigli Construction, Steven Burke, helped BuildingGreen form the Sustainable Construction Leaders network, which also includes BCCI Construction’s director of sustainability, Kena David.
Together, the group developed this idea of a commitment to better illustrate the contractor’s role in sustainable building.
“We recognize that the way the industry currently decides who is a green contractor is based on the company’s green revenue,” says Taranto. “The Contractor’s Commitment was born out of this idea to emphasize our deeper role in and commitment to building sustainably.”
CONTRACTOR’S COMMITMENT GUIDELINES
Officially launched as a pilot program last fall, the Contractor’s Commitment is becoming the standard for evaluating a contractor’s sustainability progress—divided into a “good,” “better,” or “best” rating. Contractors who sign the commitment pledge to meet a series of goals in five categories:
- Carbon Reduction: How well a contractor reduces carbon emissions
- Jobsite Wellness: Fostering wellness (clean air, nourishment, mental health, etc.) for anyone working on the jobsite
- Waste Management: Promoting waste diversion, whether seeking green building certification or not Water Management Assessing risks to prevent water pollution
- Water Management: Assessing risks to prevent water pollution
- Material Selection: Assessing and selecting healthy and sustainable materials
BCCI and Ajax Building Company were the first STO Building Group members to sign the commitment, and Structure Tone New York and Structure Tone Southwest are in the process—with several more STOBG companies in the works. “For BCCI, we identified what systems we had in place, what we measured and tracked, and what would be a lift,” says David. “We created a detailed plan specific to each project and role on the project. We also created resources for project teams to use and customize to help with implementation.”
STOBG sustainability leaders across the organization are also taking up the mantle and driving change through the Contractor’s Commitment, developing scope language for subcontractors, protocols for material data collection, processes for more robust waste diversion, and means for tracking jobsite carbon. BCCI is in the process of creating and normalizing a construction waste signage package that would tie to a color-coding system for source separating materials onsite. Complementing STOBG’s already robust Safety 360⁰ program, waste diversion processes will tie into general material handling initiatives and layer in health and wellness measures.
“We recognize that waste has a huge impact globally on carbon emissions,” says Rebecca Bailey, preconstruction manager at Ajax. “Building design and construction contribute to about two thirds of total waste in the US, which is why enforcing the Contractor’s Commitment is essential to our company. The commitment drives sustainability forward not just from the perspective of our clients, but as a general contractor and how STO Building Group can make an impact.”