Today, it’s not enough for the projects we build to be big, beautiful, and functional. With the need for renewable energy sources more apparent than ever, our buildings must be sustainable, too. According to Smith College, sustainable (or “green”) buildings are those that undergo a comprehensive process of design and construction that employs techniques to minimize adverse environmental impacts and reduce energy consumption.
One of the most well-known markers of a sustainable building is LEED certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program focused primarily on new commercial building projects and based upon a points system. The more points earned, the higher the rating.
These seven firms — the top ranking in ENR’s 2018 Green Buildings Contractors — are leading the way in this area of construction, implementing sustainable practices across their projects to not only minimize their environmental impact but also to gain a competitive advantage amid growing prioritization of climate change mitigation and corporate governance.
1. Turner Construction Company
Green design revenue: $5.5 billion
Green accredited staff: 1500
Key project: The Weed Army Community Hospital in Fort Irwin, California
Why? It’s the U.S. Department of Defense’s only net-zero energy hospital and the third LEED Platinum hospital in the world. The facility includes a solar field, a 550,000-gallon water tank, and enough diesel storage to be wholly self-sufficient for over two weeks if all utilities were cut off.
2. Clark Construction Group
Green design revenue: $4 billion
Green accredited staff: 284
Key project: Park Tower at Transbay in San Francisco, California
Why? It’s certified LEED Gold. Along with efficient building systems and raised floors, the high-rise features an open-air lobby, sky decks, green space, and natural lighting.
Green design revenue: $3.8 billion
Green accredited staff: Not available
Key project: One Bryant Park in New York City
Why? It’s the world’s first skyscraper to achieve LEED Platinum certification and includes a five-megawatt cogeneration plant, ice storage plant, extensive gray water retention and recycling system, and green roof areas.
4. Swinerton Builders
Green design revenue: $2.9 billion
Green accredited staff: 210
Key project: The Google Campus in Boulder, Colorado
Why? The LEED Gold certified building harvests natural lights through Solatubes and features energy-recovery HVAC units and low-VOC materials.
5. Hensel Phelps
Green design revenue: $2.3 billion
Green accredited staff: 292
Key project: Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center
Why? It’s LEED Platinum certified and includes energy-saving features like LED lighting, chilled-beam heating and cooling, a microturbine-based trigeneration plant, and a 325-kilowatt solar photovoltaic canopy.
6. Skanska USA
Green design revenue: $2.2 billion
Green accredited staff: 482
Key project: 101 Seaport in Boston, Massachusetts
Why? It’s a LEED Platinum certified. About a quarter of the construction materials were sourced locally, while underground parking aims to reduce the city’s heat island effect.
Green design revenue: $2 billion
Green accredited staff: 242
Key project: Columbia University’s Jerome L. Greene Science Center and Lenfest Center for the Arts in New York City
Why? The LEED Gold certified project includes an onsite groundwater collection system to reduce potable water use during construction and sent its wallboard scrap off to be recycled into gypsum products, among other initiatives.