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Midwestern Values = Green

Someone asked me recently how our company managed to grow its business building "green" in the heart of the Midwest. Truthfully, it never occurred to me that "green" construction was something out of character for the Midwest. In fact, I believe sustainable building fits hand-in-glove with our Midwestern values.

A frugal, no-waste approach reflects our roots. One of my first jobs as a teenager working for my family's business was to pull nails out of old studs so we could re-use the wood for concrete forms. It was an old-school approach to construction, but that thrifty attitude still works well today.

Midwestern values rooted in a German heritage tell us not to waste. We value the energy and effort spent in making something well; why would we want to toss it? So, we look for new uses for old things. If we remove an old window in a historic building to replace it with a new Low-E double-glazed window, we work harder not to throw away the old window. We re-use it, like we did in our HGC offices where old windows serve as interior walls.
Where knowledge and creativity collide is at the intersection of knowing when something is worth keeping and re-using, and when it should be tossed. That requires technical expertise. If you don't know how to apply the latest technology, you can't create the most efficient solutions for constructing sustainable buildings.

At HGC Construction, we employ creative thinkers and project managers, and we believe in giving them space to develop creative solutions. But we also believe you have to acquire technical training. That's why as a company we set out a couple of years ago to get more LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) training for our project management staff. SHP Leading Design provided us that training, and we're grateful for their leadership in the professional community.

The technical knowledge in LEED enables us to complete successful projects like the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's Historic Vine Street Village, for which we won a national construction award and which was certified LEED Platinum. Who would believe that here in the heart of the Midwest we now have the "greenest" zoo in the nation?! This project at the Cincinnati Zoo can serve as a model for zoos in other Midwestern cities, like St. Louis, and across the United States.

What we've done in Over-the-Rhine also can serve as a model for other cities. There is little difference in the architecture of Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis and other cities settled by Germans along our great rivers. They have the same masonry construction, similar urban environments and energy demands. We've demonstrated here in Cincinnati that eco-friendly buildings will attract buyers to urban neighborhoods. The LEED-Silver condominiums -- the Lofts of Mottainai -- that we constructed from a pair of historic, four-story buildings in Over-the-Rhine sold out quickly. They are a model for what can be created in other Midwest cities.

Our German heritage and Midwestern values establish a solid foundation for the "green" revolution. What we have done at HGC is build on that foundation, acquiring strong technical training and on-the-job experience in green construction. In this revolutionary time, that -- and good old-fashioned hard work -- has been the catalyst for HGC's success.

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