Turner Construction Company: CDP serves gap analysis between aspirations and performance


Turner Construction Company was founded in 1902 by Henry C. Turner. With construction volume of $7.8 billion in 2010, Turner ranks first or second in major segments of the construction industry, including commercial offices, education and healthcare. It maintains a nationwide network of offices in the United States and has a presence in 20 countries. Turner has a staff of more than 5,000 employees who perform work on more than 1,200 projects each year.

Challenge: Data gathering to meet reduction goal
In 2010 Turner received an invitation from a client to respond to the CDP Supply Chain report. The decision was made to take action, not only in response to this customer’s request but for the benefit of the company itself as measuring and understanding carbon emissions were of growing importance to business strategy.

Turner made a commitment in 2006 to reduce the company’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 5% by 2011. The strategy for achieving this goal is to reduce electricity consumption in offices and fuel consumption in company-owned and leased vehicles. While reducing GHG emissions, Turner also expects to lower vehicle fuel costs and utility bills.

Solution: A meaningful reporting process to measure and understand emissions
The CDP reporting process guides companies through a set of questions that encourage deeper thinking. Michael Deane, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, describes the reporting process, “Completing the questionnaire was a useful exercise in gap analysis between the aspirations of our policies and our performance. We identified areas for improvement as well as areas where we have made significant progress.”

Benefit: The vision to be proactive and responsive to customers
Turner found the CDP process enlightening for senior management with regard to corporate governance as it helped to define more clearly policy and process for making and implementing decisions related to carbon and climate change.

Michael Deane explains, “The CDP process enabled us to account for the environmental benefit of green buildings and, using data from a 2008 study by the New Buildings Institute (NBI), we are able to quantify avoided emissions in the buildings we build. Based on this study, the 35 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the recognised green building certification) certified projects Turner completed in 2009 will avoid 18K metric tons CO2-e every year. This is equal to 80% of the total Scope 1 and 2 emissions from Turner’s corporate operations in the same year. In 2010, 47 Turner projects were LEED certified. These projects will avoid over 21K metric tons CO2-e per year.

“We are implementing green strategies in our own offices, 10 of which are currently LEED certified or registered for certification. Following a campaign of office efficiency measures, our office in Toledo, Ohio recorded a 30% reduction in energy use through measures such as turning off lights and computers at the end of the day, installing occupancy sensors, double sided printing, and purchasing energy star equipment. In 2011 Turner will perform a detailed energy audit of each office and make recommendations to improve energy efficiency.”

Turner occupies more than one million square feet of leased office space for its permanent operations (which are classified as Scope 1 and 2 emissions under the WRI Protocol) and employs sub-contractors to perform project work (which is classified as Scope 3 emissions under WRI). Because Turner wants to have a positive impact on its supply chain emissions, a key goal for the company is therefore to reduce its Scope 3 emissions from jobsite operations. One opportunity to do so is by using energy efficient temporary construction lighting (CFLs or LEDs) in lieu of incandescent lighting on construction projects. This can result in energy reductions of 35% (CFLs) to 75% (LEDs). The company has found that the first costs for LED lamps are prohibitive at this time except for projects that have a duration of more than two years. However, costs are expected to come down significantly making this a viable alternative for more projects in the near future.

As the company develops its relationship with CDP, Michael Deane describes Turner’s ambitions, “We are interested in continuous improvement. In the future we are looking to use sub-metering in our offices, perhaps even down to the plug level in order to gain a deeper insight into our energy use. We are also looking at an energy dashboard system that will display real time energy information. We want to be proactive and responsive to customers – we want to have the information ready if we are asked and be ahead of the game in measuring and reducing GHG emissions.”

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