(As seen on WZZM TV 13) When a company lives and breathes the same values it practices for its clients, it can help change the way a community does business. Bazzani Building Company has helped shape the sustainable building culture in Grand Rapids, and with some recent staff adjustments, Guy Bazzani believes he has ensured the company’s culture well into the future.
When Bazzani finished the renovation of the company’s office building, 959 Wealthy St. SE, it was the first LEED-certified building in Grand Rapids. Completed in 2001, the project transformed a 1918 construction into a building 40 percent more efficient than a newly constructed building built to modern codes. Today, Bazzani said the company still is regularly pushing to be 30 to 40 percent more efficient than a building built to code.
Until recently, Bazzani Building Company was known as Bazzani Associates, but the name caused some confusion Bazzani wanted to clear up.
“We’ve always wanted to identify as a building company,” he said. “As we did development, that kind of stuck, and I have friends who don’t know we build. If people think we’re developers, we’re not going to get asked to do other projects, and we’d like to work for other people.”
As the company pushes to be known more for its green building practices, it also has a change in leadership. Bazzani, who is the company’s founder and CEO, has relinquished his title as president to Peter Skornia, the company’s vice president since 2014. Prior to joining Bazzani Building, Skornia was a private consultant, and Skornia and Bazzani had considered coming together prior to the Great Recession. The partnership waited, but Bazzani said it’s a natural progression.
“We’ve done multiple projects together, and I’m very comfortable with Peter being president of Bazzani Building Company from a capacity level but also a values level,” Bazzani said. “Those two things working together are what I was looking for, and that’s what I have. I can feel comfortable the company will proceed with the same values.”
Just like when the Green Building Council introduced LEED certification measurements, which helped Bazzani prove his building practices, the B Corp measurements have given him a way to measure the company’s values. First B Corp certified in 2014, Bazzani Building Company twice has been named Best For the World, an honor saved for the top 10 percent of B Corps. The past recertification process, Bazzani scored 147 and is on track for 160 in its next recertification in two years.
“It’s embedded in our culture, and once it’s embedded in the culture, you can continue to find ways to improve it,” Bazzani said.
The company’s values are the same reason Skornia wanted to work for Bazzani.
“I could have ended up lots of places having this role and having ownership,” Skornia said. “What really excited me were the types of projects he’s done and the impact it’s had. It’s a great thing.”
With the guidelines in place from both B Corp and the Green Building Council, Bazzani said the practices the company moves forward with in its projects can help it compete with conventional construction companies on a cost basis.
Instead of looking at how a project can accumulate standards as it progresses or is finishing up, Bazzani Building Company has the standards in place before it begins a project, Skornia said.
“You get those details built in, so you’re integrally involved in the project,” he said. “What are those expenses? What are the details? They’re just baked in from the beginning of the project, so you don’t worry about in the long run.”
Currently, Bazzani Building Company is working on a small coffee shop next to its offices, “less than $100,000,” while it also is embarking on the second phase of the more than $10 million renovation of the Kingsley Building, 1415 Lake Drive SE.
“We’re proud to do it,” Skornia said of the coffee shop project and anything in between it and the larger projects. Bazzani Building Company recently completed Hotel Saugatuck, a renovation of a 150-year-old bed and breakfast in Saugatuck.
The company also recently finished the renovation of Village Pharmacy in downtown Paw Paw and is working on renovations in Owosso, where Bazzani helped set up a historic district, minimized costs and helped raise funds for the renovation of the downtown, which he said the townspeople want to look similar to Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids.
The company will continue to work in its three disciplines — consulting, development and building — and Bazzani hopes his company will continue to change the way the construction is seen in Grand Rapids and beyond.
“We’re still a long ways from having it together,” Bazzani said. “Our process is to lower everything we do and be more conservative in uses of materials and processes.”