Tackling Green Building as a Team

HBC employee-owners at USGBC-LA’s 2022 MiniGolf Tournament & House Party

As we approach the end of 2022, the sustainability status quo is not enough. Green building requirements in California have made our industry raise the bar, but now we must hold ourselves to an even higher standard. 

We at Howard Building Corporation (HBC) joined the green building movement early on and our involvement with USGBC-LA and ANEW Foundation has been rewarding, helping us continuously challenge ourselves to refine our internal practices in our offices and on our jobsites.

Now clients are seeking ways to go above and beyond the minimum green building requirements while optimizing their spaces for the wellbeing of employees. As a general contractor, we help them make this a reality by partnering with the right people who share this same vision. After all, sustainability is a team effort, and it is important for us to find the right team of subcontractors, manufacturers, and suppliers to help fulfill the needs of our client while considering the needs of our planet.

HBC worked closely with subcontractors to obtain LEED Certification on the Pharmavite project

We partner with companies who push themselves to do better. We admire those who find innovative ways to source materials locally, seek out renewable materials, and divert increasingly more waste from landfills. In the spirit of giving thanks, we would like to highlight two of our industry partners for their innovative solutions.

Sourcing locally:

Sharpe Interior Systems has over 45 years’ experience in Southern California as a drywall and metal stud framing contractor. Their dedication to providing optimal services with a low overall footprint is second-to-none. Through local distribution centers, all material that Sharpe uses is sourced and produced locally, which in turn supports our local economy while reducing transportation costs.

They partner with local subcontractors with the same mission to manufacture sustainably while using recycled materials. U.S. Gypsum offers a wide array of options while maintaining an aggressive goal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by over 15% and achieve zero manufacturing landfill waste by 2030. ClarkDietrich was the first cold-formed steel framing manufacturer to receive Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) verification and recycles 100% of their steel waste. 

Sharpe has also developed creative solutions in how they transport materials to their jobsite. Instead of packaging and shipping drywall mud in one-time use boxes, they began to implement 50-gallon drums. These containers help limit packaging waste that would otherwise end up in landfills and have become an industry example of using materials responsibly and uniquely.

Maximizing waste diversion:

IRS/CDR operates in a LEED Gold office, which achieved 97% reuse rate. As the only C&D facility in California concentrating solely on tenant improvement demolition debris, IRS/CDR is used to leading by example. 

IRS/CDR is committed to providing solutions for responsible waste diversion and, because they run their own 14-acre recycling facility, they can calculate actual diversion rates while ensuring that their recycling practices exceed local authority mandates.

IRS/CDR sorts materials onsite and determines whether the debris can be properly disposed of or given a second home. Their robust recycling program reintroduces over 30 tons of salvaged materials into the community every month to a catalog of over 250 local non-profits.

For items that cannot be recycled, IRS/CDR ships the materials to Waste to Energy facilities, which ultimately equates to 800 tons of drywall, 101 tons of carpet, and 420 tons of manufactured lumber per month.

Tackling sustainability as a general contractor is a huge task. Partnering with the right team to help prioritize client requests and environmental needs makes it a little less daunting. Have conversations about sustainability with your subcontractors, manufacturers, and suppliers. Share best practices and goals. Chances are, they have also been working toward the same goals. The path to sustainability does not have to be a lonely one. By recognizing the cumulative impact of our collective efforts, we can inch ever closer to a greener, healthier world—together.  


Taylor Coleman is the Creative Manager at Howard Building Corporation (HBC).

HBC is a commercial general contracting firm founded in 1983, servicing a broad spectrum of clients from two Southern California offices. They are 100% employee owned and aligned with environmental, social, and governance principles. Their superior service sets them apart, and they have built their company on the strength of their relationships and the success of their projects.

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