Case Studies

HESS Construction + Engineering Services Inc.

For this construction manager, LEED is more than a certification —it’s part of the company’s culture

In 2014, HESS Construction + Engineering Services Inc. (HESS) partnered with Grimm + Parker Architects to host faculty, staff, students, and parents of the newly constructed Wilson Wims Elementary School, located in Montgomery County, Marylan d, to partake in an event called Green Apple Day.

The event, which partners with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), was an opportunity for HESS to show the community green building practices by demonstrating how the school was built to achieve LEED Gold certification.

HESS Construction + Engineering Services Inc.

“It was really interesting to explain to the community what these green features do and to create awareness of how green building is used to save the environment,” says Saurabh Gangwar, CM-BIM, LEED AP BD+C and vice president of integrated construction at HESS Construction.

Various exhibits were displayed highlighting and explaining the process of sustainable features like geothermal heating, green roofs and energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning, that were used in Wilson Wims Elementary School.

“One of the most creative things we did on the project was switching to rail shipment for all ceiling tile,” says Project Engineer, Jonathan Lang, LEED AP BD+C. “We were right on the cusp for the Regional Materials credit, and since we were out in front of our tracking efforts we realized the potential for improvement and we were able to make this change. Because of this, we successfully received 2 points for Regional Materials.”

HESS encouraged all team members to also attend the event as a way of interacting with the neighborhood.

“People really enjoyed it. They took their families and kids, enjoyed a picnic and met with their colleagues. At the same time, they were learning about LEED and green building,” Gangwar says.

HESS Construction is a full-service general contractor based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that specializes in building educational facilities, and is known for completing the first public building in the Commonwealth of Virginia to receive a USGBC Silver Rating, and the first LEED Gold certified academic facility in the State of Maryland.

Green for the right reasons

Over the years, HESS has diversified its market to include projects for universities, municipal clients, libraries, student unions, STEM complexes and government agencies.

HESS is currently in the process of certifying their latest government project, the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA), for LEED Gold certification.

The PSTA campus includes the new construction of 14 individual buildings that occupy over 88 acres of land and, according to Saurabh, “is one of the most complicated projects in terms of LEED documentation” because there were different standards for different buildings.

Three of the buildings were targeted for LEED Silver certification, while another targeted LEED Gold. HESS was also required to submit documentation for certain LEED credits that related to the entire campus.

“LEED has become such a selling point in the industry that a lot of times people will get the certification for marketing and advertisements,” he says. “But [at HESS] we tell everyone that we do what we do … because it’s good for the environment, not because it will give us credits.”

For instance, while on a job site, most general contractors print full-scale sized drawings of the building’s plan and every time there is a change in the building’s design, another drawing is printed.

To create paperless field offices, HESS jobsite offices include two television screens, both as large as a full-size set of drawings. One screen has the most up-to-date 2-D PDF drawings while the other has a 3-D Building Information Modeling model, which helps construction professionals plan, design and constructs buildings more efficiently.

“The easiest thing about this system is … if a minor change happens on one of the drawings, we can update it in the cloud,” says Saurabh. Through this process, HESS saves time and money by not having to wait for the most up-to-date draft to be printed. Client and stakeholder communication is positively impacted as well, because the cloud’s updates are instantly shared among all stakeholders.

HESS also reduced paper waste in its main office as well as its field offices by implementing technologies like SMART Boards and iPads.

“We try to create a culture of green by telling people, ‘Hey, it’s not that we can’t afford paper, this is our commitment to the environment, so let us give you the technology to help,’” Gangwar says.

In addition to reducing the overconsumption of materials, HESS makes an effort to reuse and recycle on a site as much as possible. Assistant Superintendent at HESS Construction, Erin Sullivan, LEED AP BD+C, says while working on the Hallie Wells Middle School in Montgomery County, “I was proud to see that HESS was able to recycle 89 percent of construction waste on that project—which is 14 percent higher than the necessary 75 percent for the credit—by using our construction waste management plan.”

The company also encourages its employees to become LEED Green Associates and LEED Accredited Professionals, by reimbursing exam fees and study materials upon successful accreditation.

According to Saurabh, it is because of these efforts that HESS doesn’t need to worry about meeting LEED goals “because we always beat them.”

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