Texan by Nature is excited to recognize The Beck Group, Ltd. as a 2021 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. The Beck Group’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Architecture, Design, & Development – Mid-sized
The Beck Group (Beck) is a third-generation, family-owned company that began in 1912 as a general contractor and has developed into a full-service design/builder with an international reach. Since 2004, we have put in place more than $8 billion worth of built space in education, healthcare, religious, corporate office, mixed-use, and government developments. We focus primarily on cultivating long-term relationships and seek opportunities to bring quality, value and integrity to every project. Over 90 percent of our business is for treasured repeat customers who average over ten projects with our firm and reap the benefits of our “big picture” knowledge of the design and construction process.
As the industry and our customers focus on increased collaboration and ‘integrated project delivery,’ Beck demonstrates 20 years of leadership and experience in successful design-build projects. Our process began in 1999 when Beck, a successful construction firm, merged with Urban Architecture, a regionally established architecture firm. Through integration at the organizational level, Beck transformed into a single source for all building services. We provide development, architecture, sustainability, estimating, construction, and technology services with a shared purpose and bottom line.
Beck maintains its reputation through the tireless efforts of our dedicated people. Our team consists of licensed architects, engineers, interior designers, real estate consultants, field staff, and construction project managers. 424 employees worked in Texas in 2020 at Beck’s three Texas offices in Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
Nearly 35 percent of our employees are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Accredited Professionals or Green Advantage Certified and demonstrate a thorough understanding of green building practices and processes. We are also fortunate to have a vast portfolio of industry recognition. The firm has earned more than 525 design and construction awards, demonstrating our dedication to superb architecture and construction craftsmanship.
What is The Beck Group’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
The Beck Group has four core values that apply to all that we do. These values are integrity, caring, integration, and innovation. We exemplify our commitment to conservation and sustainability through our value of caring, which we define as showing concern, empathy, and compassion for others, ourselves, and the environment.
We cannot overlook the disparities many people face; sustainable design cannot be elitist or a sign of luxury. Our environmental efforts utilize the AIA Design Excellence Framework to evaluate the impacts of our projects and to inform our design decisions.
Our National Sustainability Objective focuses on energy efficiency, water conservation, and healthy building materials because these three factors have the most profound impacts on social equity. We have to be more aware of the lifecycle of a building, from design decisions to building materials and construction, and the lasting effects a building can have on a neighborhood, city, and geographical region. Learn more in Beck’s 2020 Social Impact Report.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of the Beck Group’s business strategy?
Beck’s Sustainability Team provides education, advocacy, research, and consulting services for our project teams and clients. The team collaborates with a network of Sustainability Champions in each of our offices and every market sector to keep abreast of client demand for sustainable and healthy buildings. They share updates on sustainability-related third-party rating systems and certifications, regional legislation, and national and international agreements that are being considered or have been adopted in their market sector. The Sustainability Team and Champion Network shares project experience, opportunities, and climate-related knowledge gained from summits, conferences, industry events, and publications.
Every year during the Sustainability Team’s strategic planning session, market changes and opportunities are evaluated, and adjustments are made to the department’s services and business plan to continue education, advocacy, and advancement of sustainable practices.
What are The Beck Group’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
Beck’s Preconstruction Team researches, develops, and publishes a biannual Cost Report. The report addresses the market sector and Architecture/Engineering/Construction industry trends in the firm’s regional markets. The most recent report provides context around costs focusing on unpredictability in the market and how material price increases coupled with labor shortages create an environment of unpredictable inflation. The Sustainability Team then uses the information in the report to determine reasonable sustainability goals for selecting building materials. Considerations include regional availability, recycled content and future recyclability, durability, environmental impacts, and human health impacts.
In 2010 Beck signed the AIA 2030 Commitment to design carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030. What was a long-term goal 20 years in the future is now escalating to an immediate need for improvements over the next nine years. It includes understanding our operational impact on the environment and the potential for extreme weather events. The number, frequency, and severity of extreme weather events impacts building codes, construction practices, project schedules, insurance rates, worker safety and labor laws. We have to consider future impacts on the operation of our buildings and consider construction budgets for possible disruptions to our schedule and expenses caused by these conditions to continue to be successful.
Beck’s Sustainability Team coordinates all local, state, and federal green building code changes. Major building codes, such as the International Codes (I-Codes), are developed every three years by the International Code Council (ICC). These codes include fifteen coordinated, modern building safety codes that help ensure the engineering of safe, sustainable, affordable, and resilient structures and are largely adopted by local jurisdictions. The Sustainability Team shares this information through email communications, company newsletters, educational sessions, and consulting to prepare for upcoming changes.
Who in your company is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
Natalie Terrill, the Director of Sustainability, manages Beck’s Sustainability Team and is responsible for leading conservation and sustainability efforts. She provides education and support on conservation and sustainability issues to all Beck employees, creates the agenda for an annual strategic planning session, reviews changes to national and international agreements and policies, and makes adjustments to the department’s services and business plan to capitalize on opportunities. The Director of Sustainability reports to the Leadership Team and is responsible for developing the annual Climate Action Plan that outlines the company’s climate-related objectives to permeate sustainability throughout Beck’s projects and operations company-wide.
“We are honored that TxN 20 is recognizing The Beck Group’s sustainability efforts. While the recognition celebrates our achievements, which began over a decade ago, it reminds us why we strive to do better with every new project. We’re proud to share our values with you and pleased that our concern, empathy, and compassion for others and the environment resonates with you.”
– Natalie Terrill, Director of Sustainability
The Sustainability Team and champion network have been responsible for designing and operating the Beck booth at Earth X since 2011. EarthX is an international, nonprofit environmental forum whose purpose is to educate and inspire people to pursue a more sustainable future. Every year, we seek opportunities to connect to the attendees, showcase our work, and encourage people to implement a sustainable practice. We accomplish this through meaningful gifts that have included reusable grocery bags, straws, water bottles, and Texas native plants. The annual conference is held at Fair Park in Dallas every April to celebrate Earth Day and draws over 100,000 attendees, 600 exhibitors, and 400 speakers. EarthX is a Texan by Nature Conservation Partner.
As a member of The Sustainable Construction Leaders (SCL) peer network group, Beck helped develop the framework for the Contractor’s Commitment for Sustainable Building Practices in Construction. The framework outlines a clear and measurable way to track carbon reduction, jobsite wellness, waste management, water management, and material selection. Likewise, Beck is a member of the Associated General Contractors of America(AGC) and participates in the Climate Action Task Force to address climate change and push for carbon reduction in construction practices.
Our Director of Sustainability also participates in the Sustainable Design Leaders (SDL) peer network group. This group provides collaboration for solutions and actions addressing environmental and climate risk topics. In 2020, multiple working groups were created to address a low carbon future and resiliency.
Additionally, many Beck employees hold leadership roles in industry organizations, including the United States Green Building Council, American Institute of Architects Committee On The Environment, Texas Material Initiative, and ASHRAE to improve and advance sustainable practices in the industry.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does The Beck Group lead and participate in?
Our National Sustainability Objective, based on the AIA 2030 Commitment, encompasses energy use reduction, water conservation, and healthy building materials to design carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030. We track every design project from conceptual design through construction documents to understand the impact our buildings have on the environment and to help inform design decisions that lead to greater efficiency.
Beck also implements Lean Construction principles on all our construction and integrated design-build projects with a value of $5 million or more or a construction duration longer than ten months. Lean Construction strives to maximize value for the client while minimizing waste by focusing on effective and efficient project delivery. Lean construction methods address eight types of waste: defects, overproduction, waiting, not utilizing talent, transport, inventory, motion, and excess processing.
Lastly, The Beck Foundation focuses on shelter and workplace development to build better communities where we live, work, and play. In 2020, we used our knowledge and expertise to provide in-kind services to organizations that provide invaluable assistance to our communities. Beck has created strategic partnerships with the local chapters of Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Fort Worth, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Tampa in a long-term effort to help impact more than 300 lives through over 5,000 volunteer hours.
In all of our markets, demand for design and construction projects is high, but the lack of labor impacts the cost of construction and the industry’s capacity to keep up with demand. While technology aids our efforts to increase efficiency, there is no substitute for skilled tradespeople. Because of this, we are committed to investing in our future workforce through programs with local high schools like the P-TECH or Pathways in Technology Early College High School at Dallas ISD and higher education institutions.
Last year, almost 300 individuals donated 15,000 hours of community service, and we donated over $800,000 to 50+ organizations across our footprint. Our contributions to conservation and environmental organizations in Texas included donations to the Urban Land Institute and the Dallas Arboretum.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will The Beck Group play in that progress?
Buildings and construction account for nearly 40% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. As a design-build firm, we understand that our projects are primarily responsible for reducing this burden. The effects of climate change are far-reaching – rising sea levels, extreme weather, and depletion of natural resources directly result from increased carbon levels.
Beck has been reporting our scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project since 2010. Understanding our carbon footprint provides valuable insights into our emissions, business risks, and opportunities for improvement. We talked to our clients about energy use intensity (EUI) reduction for the last decade, but we know that the push for decarbonization is accelerating.
In order to meet carbon neutrality goals, we must also consider embodied carbon in our decision-making process. Embodied carbon covers all the emissions of building materials during extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and construction. The embodied carbon can account for 60% of total emissions during a building’s lifetime. Studies show that operational carbon, the emissions produced from the building’s energy consumption, is a fraction of the total emissions. While operational carbon can change over time, embodied carbon is determined once a building is complete and cannot be recaptured.
Because of this, we have been educating clients on building electrification, onsite renewable energy production, building material transparency, and the circular economy.
How does The Beck Group quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
At Beck, our in-house Sustainability Team champions environmental stewardship efforts, with support from our 170 employees that maintain LEED AP credentials. In 2020, Beck committed to retaining and growing the Sustainability Team to lead the firm’s dialogue around sustainable building and construction processes, business practices, and efforts to achieve the AIA 2030 Commitment and report Beck’s greenhouse gas emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).
The financial investment can be quantified at an operational level by employee salaries, industry organization memberships, conference and event attendance, financial support for continuing education and accreditations, and computer software.
Beck has quantified our financial impact based on our internal objectives to reduce the environmental impacts of the buildings we design and build.
Using the AIA 2030 report for energy use reduction, we tracked 25 projects totaling 1,096,268 gross square feet company-wide and 15 projects totaling 657,325 gross square feet in Texas.
Company-wide, this equates to 72,273,140 kWh/year saved. Using an average electricity cost, this could account for an energy savings of $551,444,058.20.
What is the one lesson that The Beck Group has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
Channeling Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Beck has been reporting our scopes 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) since 2010. That first year was rough, and every year after, we have strived for improvement while balancing more stringent reporting criteria.
It is eye-opening to quantify the emissions of your operations. Typical for our industry, our scope 3 emissions resulting from activities and assets not owned or controlled by Beck, but that impact our value chain, constitute our most significant carbon footprint. It includes the lifetime energy consumption of the buildings we design, procurement, waste, and water consumption.
Beck created our National Sustainability Objective to track energy efficiency, water conservation, and healthy building materials to tackle this. We developed these goals to be cost-effective and widely implemented across all our regions and market sectors. Our best management practices include:
These strategies do not add cost to our projects but make a big difference in their environmental impact and operational costs.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for The Beck Group?
The Beck Group is a third-generation, family-owned company that began in 1912 as the Central Contracting Company in Houston, TX. The company headquarters moved to Dallas in 1924 as a requirement for building the city’s Cotton Exchange Building, and we’ve called it home ever since.
Learn more about The Beck Group’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Last year, almost 300 individuals donated 15,000 hours of community service.
424 employees worked in Texas in 2020 at Beck’s three Texas offices in Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth.
Nearly 35% of Beck employees are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professionals (170 employees) or Green Advantage Certified.
Beck educates clients on building electrification, onsite renewable energy production, building material transparency, and the circular economy.
Using the AIA 2030 report for energy use reduction, Beck tracked 25 projects totaling 1,096,268 gross square feet company-wide and 15 projects totaling 657,325 gross square feet in Texas. Company-wide, this equates to 72,273,140 kWh/year saved. Using an average electricity cost, this could account for an energy savings of $551,444,058.20.
Over $800,000 donated to 50+ organizations across Beck’s footprint, including donations to the Urban Land Institute and the Dallas Arboretum.
Beck tracks every design project from conceptual design through construction documents to understand the impact buildings have on the environment and to help inform design decisions that lead to greater efficiency.
Beck also implements Lean Construction principles on all construction and integrated design-build projects with a value of $5 million or more or a construction duration longer than ten months.
In 2010 Beck signed the AIA 2030 Commitment to design carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030.
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