2050 Leader: Michael Deane, VP, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Turner Construction Company
L. Charlie Oliver, Green Building Worldwide’s CEO sat down with Michael Deane to discuss Sustainable Building, Supply Chain and Legacy. Part II.
L. Charlie Oliver: Speak to Turner’s motive for entering the sustainability arena.
Michael Deane: Turner made its first formal commitment to green building in 2004. It was done following a few years observation and then focused research. Turner built some of the first LEED certified buildings in 2001/2002. By 2003, the green building market had picked up enough that our senior management was interested in finding out if there was potential growth. Turner commissioned research and identified one of its Senior Vice Presidents who interviewed leaders in the market. The result of the research found the market was going to grow and become important. Turner wanted to take a leadership position in green building and the recommendation was to make a series of commitments to educate the market, I was hired to help support and grow that effort. So, the motivation was based on the business opportunity and the right thing to do for our clients. Frankly, green buildings were better buildings, the right thing to do for us and a growth segment of the industry. All of which turned out to be true, that was the original motivation and I think that motivation continues today.
L. Charlie Oliver: With regard to sustainability, where is Turner today and where is it heading?
Michael Deane: Well, green building has become a standard practice and we are thinking sustainably in all of our projects. I would like to see us heading to be more holistic in our approach to sustainability which includes not only the building that we building but how our company operates as well. We want to get the benefits we offer to our customers. Every year we track our emissions, report and identify new goals. We continue to think about the impact of our own operation and are beginning to look at our supply chain because we know that the decisions we make, how we procure and what we buy can impact our extended carbon footprint much more than our direct footprint. If we can purchase from a vendor, such contractor or supplier with a sustainable operation we can encourage and build a more sustainable supply chain. That’s where I think we are going.
L. Charlie Oliver: Is the process (of Sustainable Supply Chains) cumbersome?
Michael Deane: It is extremely cumbersome and difficult. We have so many different suppliers and even though we buy different materials such as sheet rock, contrite and so on - we don't buy it all at one time from one vendor so we cant get the type of control. We buy our products for each product individually through sub contractors. If I want to buy sheetrock for job X in New York, I am going to go to a contractor that has a the drywall contractor and he is going to purchase that. If we do 1000 to 1500 projects per year and there are 20 to 30 subcontractors on each job as well as the many materials and equipment provided by each, it is very complex. We are prioritizing what we buy, what our spends are and our relationships to start down that path.
L. Charlie Oliver: Where are we at with the cost premium?
Michael Deane: Once you have a very knowledgeable design and construction team you can build a very sustainable building for little of no cost premium. A sustainable building will save money over the life of a building and the cost discussion needs to be framed in terms of the total cost of ownership.
L. Charlie Oliver: What would you want Turner’s sustainability legacy to be?
Michael Deane: Certainly, I would like for it to be one of leadership. I came to work for Turner because I was impressed with their leadership. I would like Turner’s legacy to be innovation. We are a company of over 5000 very smart people who do cutting edge work and would like Turner’s legacy to be in execution because we are smart and we care. The legacy should be legacy of leadership, innovation, service and delivering to our clients by executing well.