Laying the Groundwork for Sustainability
Shaeffer Hyde Construction is an award-winning construction and property management company that has been in business in the Vail Valley since 1979. Founded by George Shaeffer over 40 years ago, the business is now led by David Hyde, a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional. With custom new construction and renovation projects in Vail, Avon, Beaver Creek, Cordillera, Mountain Star, and Bachelor Gulch, it’s no wonder that Shaeffer Hyde was recognized as one of Mountain Living Magazine’s Top Luxury Builders in 2021! Since taking the reins at Shaeffer Hyde, David has pushed the company to become one of the top green builders in the area. Their commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop at construction. Shaeffer Hyde was recognized by the Actively Green Sustainable Business Program as having the best Green Team in 2020.
We spoke with Katharine Cremonese, Property Management Coordinator, in the summer of 2021 to learn more about Shaeffer Hyde, their Green Team, and how they’ve built the foundation for sustainability success.
An Award Winning Green Team
The Green Team: Sustainability Architects
There are many requirements that a business must meet to become Actively Green Certified. Arguably the most important is to create a green team. The Green team serves as the body through which sustainability improvements are overseen and managed. Actively Green Standard 1.2.2a states that the purpose of the green team is to “...establish a diverse team dedicated to sustainability management of the business.”
The green team can be made up of one person or many. What’s important is that each member is assigned specific responsibilities and that the green team has the support of the company’s leadership. Once the green team has been established, the business can then continue down the path of achieving the other requirements for becoming Actively Green Certified.
The Blueprint for Sustainability
In 2020, Shaeffer Hyde won the Actively Green Best Green Team Award, recognizing their team’s hard work and dedication. In speaking with Katharine Cremonese, it became clear that the reason for Shaeffer Hyde’s green team success was because of the broad spectrum of expertise their team has. With members from all different departments, marketing to accounting, project management to laborers, ideas flow from every direction. Katherine says folks on the green team are “...all coming from different pieces of the same machine” and that allows them to be creative and kick around innovative ideas that she might not have come up with.
Shaeffer Hyde’s green team is led by two co-chairs, includes members from every department, and meets monthly. They’re responsible for coordinating the company’s Sustainability Action Plan, promoting environmentally sustainable operating practices, and sharing sustainability information with colleagues.
Not only does Shaeffer Hyde have a large green team with members from all different parts of the business, they also have employees who are incredibly enthusiastic about sustainability. Without prompting, employees have begun reusing and recycling on the jobsite, carpooling to work, and bringing reusable water bottles. The culture of sustainability at Shaeffer Hyde starts with the Green Team.
To that end, Katherine views the green team as more than just another internal team, but as a team building exercise that the whole organization can take part in. This creates an enthusiasm that encourages more people to participate and lets the green team be successful.
Concrete Evidence of Sustainability Success
So what are some of Shaeffer Hyde’s green team successes? The list is quite extensive.
In the construction business, reducing waste is of utmost concern. Shaeffer Hyde’s green team promotes recycling and the purchase of recycled goods. On the job site, they encourage the reuse of materials. One example Katherine shared was reusing scrap plywood as driveway protection when working on a home. They also donate old appliances and cabinets to Habitat for Humanity or send them home with employees. One newer initiative they’re pushing is to recycle concrete and other construction waste rather than sending it to the landfill. Shaeffer Hyde hopes that their waste diversion practices will inspire their employees, subcontractors, and customers to also reduce their own waste.
Back in their home office, Shaeffer Hyde’s green team is working on water and energy conservation, clean energy, and a sustainability commitment for each employee. Their office in Eagle-Vail has energy efficient light bulbs, printers, and copy machines. In addition, the Green Team has been instrumental in having faucet aerators installed at each sink to save water.
The Shaeffer Hyde offices also have a large solar array on their roof. This not only generates clean electricity for the offices, it also saves the company money on their monthly electricity bill.
Finally, when a new employee starts at Shaeffer Hyde, they sign onto the company’s sustainability pledge. This document outlines what the sustainability expectations of the employee are and serves as a way to have all employees “buy in” to the green team’s work.
Shaeffer Hyde’s green team is instrumental to the work the company has done to become Actively Green Certified. It’s why their green team was awarded the Best Green Team Award in 2020. When asked for advice she’d share with other construction company’s green teams, Katherine Cremonese at Shaeffer Hyde suggested sustainability is just like building a new house: “[This is] what we do. When we’re building we come up with creative solutions to difficult problems. We do the same with [sustainability]… There’s got to be a way. It takes everyone's effort and everyone’s brainpower, and everyone’s willingness to participate.”
Katherine continued by relaying just how many resources are available to businesses to help them become more sustainable. At Walking Mountains, we offer countless free Sustainable Business Workshops designed to help businesses start on their sustainability journey. We also have the Sustainable Business Trail Map, a free, nonbinding tool that businesses can use to get started if they’re not ready to go for full Actively Green Certification.
If you’re thinking about making your business or the business you work for more sustainable, Katherine Cremonese at Shaeffer Hyde recommends starting small. Form a green team with colleagues or create a one-person green team, and get started! Katherine wants other businesses to know that “if everybody makes little steps our planet will be here a lot longer…”