In recent years, corporate social responsibility has moved from a nice-to-do on the part of some companies to a must-do for many, large and small alike. Some argue CSR is a distraction for other things that could be going on within a company or industry. How does this apply to the big builders?
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, “provides building owners and operators practical and measurable green (sustainable) building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.” Since its development in 2000, LEED has many rethinking the places they visit and live their lives.
Aside from LEED, are builders doing much else to support their communities from a CSR perspective? LEED is certainly an internationally recognized bright spot for the industry’s CSR cause so Build IQ took a closer look at what the top three builders in the United States are (not) doing:
1. PulteGroup, Inc.
PulteGroup Inc. highlights concentration in internal (diversity & inclusion), environmental and charitable giving priorities among their CSR activities. The website notes following in the footsteps of founder, Bill Pulte, that “the company is committed to not only building better communities, but building a better world.”
Through charitable giving contributions, PulteGroup seeks to have the broadest reach possible with recent donations in recent years to a Virginia Tech Professorship Endowment for the Department of Building Construction; American Red Cross relief efforts; and Mercy Housing, a national affordable housing organization that serves nearly 55,000 people each day; among others.
2. D.R. Horton, Inc.
D.R. Horton is the only builder among the top three that does not proactively designate any area on their website to how there are bettering the communities where they operate.
In 2011, Horton unveiled a “micro-community” near Portland, Oregon called Division 43. Each home design is built with reclaimed and sustainable materials and share community resources. The community also boasts “reduced reliance on fossil fuels;” energy performance in focus areas of the home including energy efficient lighting, zoned heating and cooling, solar energy for common areas and ENERGY STAR® rated appliances, among other sustainable features.
3. Lennar Corp.
Lennar Corp. states the following community mission on their website regarding community involvement: “We believe in ‘doing the right thing for the right reason,’ and that we are responsible for giving back to our Community, quietly and without fanfare.
Where Lennar differs from Pulte and Horton is that they speak about their employees involvement in volunteerism. Lennar doesn’t simply just shell out cash or practice only sustainable building, they contribute personal time to programs such as Project Opportunity. Created in 1998, Project Opportunity is a unique partnership between Lennar, Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics.
Project Opportunity builds take place in one city where Lennar has homebuilding operations. “At each Project Opportunity build, Lennar Associates from all of our disciplines, build from one to eight homes in a one-week period in a local Habitat for Humanity Community, assisted by local Special Olympics Athletes.”
In short, yes the homebuilding industry is attempting to bounce back after a historic downturn but do you think they are doing enough in the realm of CSR? As these builders continue their way back, keep an eye on their CSR activities as they will not only look to increase their home starts, but at the same time look to re-establish their reputations within the communities where they do business.