Sustainability: Adding to Webcor's Competitive Edge

Differentiation is critical in Webcor's pursuit of new business. As the construction industry shifts toward sustainable building practices, Webcor is leading the way.

April 29, 2024


Differentiation is critical in Webcor's pursuit of new business. As the construction industry shifts toward sustainable building practices, Webcor is leading the way. From our pioneering TRUE certifications to our everyday commitment to reducing waste, sustainability is increasingly being woven into the company's fabric.

"Sustainability has been a part of our DNA all along," says Matt Rossie, president and CEO. "We have put a fair amount of effort into figuring out ways to make our buildings more sustainable." Pushing the envelope on green building isn't a recent development: The California Academy of Sciences, completed in the mid-2000s, featured groundbreaking elements like recycled denim insulation and a passive ventilation system.

"The company's current green building knowledge level is certainly much greater than the vast majority of our competitors," Rossie adds. "It takes a very large company to come anywhere close to where we are currently."

That knowledge can be a strategic advantage that resonates strongly with those clients and owners who will increasingly prioritize green practices in their projects based on increased regulation as well as an interest in contributing to a greener planet. According to Operations Sr. VP Tom Taylor, "There are some clients, like SFO or Google, where sustainability is much higher on the list."

Rossie adds, "We are definitely seeing more interest in the end user communities, particularly the large technology companies; they certainly care a lot. In addition, institutional clients, like the university systems, care very much, and they are including sustainability requirements as well."

"The conversation has shifted," Marketing VP Tom Soohoo explains. "It's not so much focused around just sustainable features, but around operation & maintenance, the lifecycle costs of a building." Elements like solar panels, boiler electrification, and passive airflow must be presented not as expensive add-ons but as integral to the building's performance and economy, he says. "We don't want to add sustainable features for the sake of adding sustainable features. We want to ensure those features add true value for our clients."

True Innovation Sets Us Apart

When it comes to sustainability, Webcor doesn't just talk the talk. The world's first TRUE zero-waste certification for a commercial project was awarded to Webcor's Genesis Marina project; we are on track to do it again with the Contra Costa Administration Building, which will be the first civic building to earn the designation. "These projects speak to our innovation and to the fact that for something that hasn't been done, we'll find a way to make it happen within reason,” says Tom Taylor. "We'll definitely leverage these firsts in pursuits of public clients and end users, where sustainability and green building are much more of a priority."

Knowing which clients prioritize sustainability is part of the business development process, according to Tom Soohoo. "It's our job to dig a little deeper, understand our client's business a bit better, and determine what is going to be best for them based on what they can afford and their plans for the building," he says, highlighting the tailored approach Webcor takes to ensure that sustainability is more than just a buzzword in our project proposals. "Sustainability should be just as important as cost, schedule, and other design ideas."

While sustainable building may include some upfront costs, the company's leaders understand that it is a long-term investment, not just for Webcor but for the planet. "A lot of what we do on green building is code compliance, and so the extra effort that we put in is minimal, and I think there's a big return for it," says Tom Taylor.

Rossie says the adoption of sustainability practices will eventually become the norm, and Webcor needs to lead the way to stand out from our competitors. "The more all of us adopt these strategies and these approaches to doing the work, the more the supply chain is going to react to that, and the cost eventually is not a premium; it's simply the way that we do business."

Evolving Requirements and Staying Ahead

Our commitment to sustainability goes beyond high-profile certifications. "We're looking for all those little wins," notes Tom Taylor says. By taking this proactive approach, he adds, we can show clients that we understand the importance of a holistic view of sustainability.

As requirements evolve and become more stringent, Webcor plans to stay ahead of the competition. Education and active participation from employees will be pivotal in reinforcing Webcor's sustainability capabilities. The company's collective knowledge and commitment empower us to advocate for and implement sustainable practices that advance the industry. "This approach will continue to make us a better advisor to our clients and to our subcontractors because we have to go through an educational process with them as well," Rossie says.

"We need to get good at asking the questions that lead us to make recommendations that will add value," Tom Taylor adds.

"The more that we can do that," Rossie adds, "the more that word will spread throughout the community  that we are someone who actually understands this aspect of the business and can be counted on to deliver."

Getting Educated

Innovation continues to be at the forefront of Webcor's sustainability agenda, including adopting new technologies and materials. "The adoption of mass timber has been very good for us," Rossie remarks, highlighting the need for the evolution of building codes and insurance models to keep pace with technological advancements.

"Every developer and owner is going to have their own requirements,” Tom Taylor says. "So instead of having a company where you've done a LEED platinum building, they’re looking for individuals who have developed or delivered on specific criteria requirements."

As a result, Webcor anticipates the need for more employees with the necessary certifications and practical experience to meet these demands.

Sustainability is Everyone's Responsibility

Building a sustainable future isn't just about the big projects or new certifications. It's about a company culture that values sustainability in everything we do. "Staying true to our Core Values and talking about sustainability in the community will reinforce our commitment to sustainability," says Tom Soohoo. "We must demonstrate that that's how  Webcor executes our work."

By educating ourselves, being aware of sustainable practices on even the smallest projects, and sharing our successes and lessons learned with each other and our clients, we all become ambassadors for Webcor's sustainability mission.  As Tom Soohoo explains, "We get feedback from various sources -- from the interviews we participate in as part of a pursuit to what we learn on active projects. We need to take what we learn and turn it into internal education, so they just become part of our processes."