LEED-ers in Sustainable Design, Construction, and Lifestyle

Wagman Construction
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Wagman is a fourth generation, family-owned contracting business operating in the Mid-Atlantic region with offices in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Wagman Companies is the holding and management company for its heavy civil division, G.A. & F. C. Wagman Inc., and Wagman Construction, Inc., the company’s general construction division.
With over a hundred years experience in the construction industry, Wagman has not only become a leader in quality, but also in sustainability.

The company originated in 1902, building infrastructure, such as sidewalks and bridges in York, Pennsylvania. It is still located there today, though it has expanded its geographic footprint and the markets it serves. Establishing itself as a name for quality results, the company became involved in the construction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the 1930s and 1940s, expanding with the interstate program at the time. Wagman expanded into Delaware and Maryland through the mid-1900s and in the 1970s started to build wastewater treatment plants. In the 1980s, the company successfully expanded into commercial construction.

Wagman Construction Inc. was formally established in 1995 as a result of a company restructuring, solidly positioning itself in the general construction industry. Wagman has become a well-known name, taking on projects in the senior living, healthcare, higher education, urban, institutional and industrial markets in Central Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.

Wagman Construction offers pre-construction, construction management, general contracting, design-build, green building and consulting services. It also has a Special Projects Group for projects valued at $1 million and under, dedicated to smaller scale renovations and additions. Recently, it is Wagman’s efforts in sustainability that have been recognized within the industry.

Wagman Construction President and COO Kevin Snoke jokes that though green is a relatively new buzzword, he remembers sustainable practices that go back to the 1960s that his father initiative at the slag bank he owned. “He used to recycle slag, which is the by-product of smelting iron ore. They used to crush it up and use it for the interstate system,” shares Snoke. “Sustainability has always been around, but I think it’s more important now given our finite natural resources.”

Wagman acknowledges the pressing importance of sustainability and believes that future markets and generations are going to demand sustainable practices be adopted where possible. In a changing era of consumer responsibility and environmental sensitivity, Wagman wants to ensure that sustainability is made a serious issue.

Wagman became involved in sustainability over the past decade, undertaking a number of urban revitalization projects geared toward sustainability, many of which were in the Central Pennsylvania region. The company has also taken its commitment a step further, having designed and constructed its office to earn LEED for Commercial Interiors certification. Internal design initiatives include the use of recycled fiber carpet, recycled glass tiles, low volatile organic compound paint and adhesives, recycled steel (readily available given its location in Pennsylvania), acoustical ceiling clouds and low-flow fixtures.

In addition to working in a green office space, Wagman employees are cognizant of their actions and the implication of those actions on the environment. “There are a number of things we have put into place to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk,” adds Donna Chandler, Director of Marketing. Environmental initiatives include recycling bins at every employee’s workstation and using the refrigerator’s filtered water dispenser to avoid the waste of single-use water bottles. A printer for internal purposes is dedicated to re-using scrap paper. The offices have also been working toward going paperless, relying on electronic document storage, iPads and wireless technology.

The working environment at Wagman Construction, which includes a strong dedication to sustainability, has been formally recognized. Wagman Companies Inc. was ranked among the top ten ‘Best Places to Work’ in Pennsylvania in 2014, in the category of large companies with 251 or more employees. This was another consecutive year being recognized as such. The award is based on a survey of employees and employers and, each year, Wagman is proud to be among the names being acknowledged.

The company maintains a family-oriented feel amongst all of its employees, acknowledging both the professional employees in the office and those who represent Wagman at job sites each and every day. “It doesn’t matter what your title is; you’re respected for what you bring, because without each person as a cog in the wheel, nothing would get done,” shares Chandler.

BIM Coordinator / Project Engineer Sean Scott sees Wagman as a place where young people entering the construction industry have an opportunity to learn and advance. Company management and ownership is accessible and responsive in providing mentorship and guidance. “For me,” Scott says, “being a young person recently coming out of college, to work with great people – and having the opportunity to learn from the very top with Joe Wagman right here in the office – it’s nice.”

Wagman also comes together as a company to contribute to the well-being of the greater community. In addition to providing charitable donations through the Wagman Corporate Community Fund, the company encourages employee involvement. It sponsors food, clothing and toy drives and encourages employees to volunteer on local boards and committees. Time, talents and resources are dedicated to community improvement projects, such as playground renovations, stream clean-ups and other community-minded endeavors.

An integral part of why Wagman Companies Inc. is ranked among the best employers in the state year after year, is the approach that management and ownership takes with its employees. Built upon core values of integrity, mutual respect, sense of urgency, innovation, safety and community, Wagman Companies Inc. has assembled a strong team to facilitate its future growth.

With six LEED Accredited Professionals and two LEED Green Associates, Wagman is well positioned to assist clients with goals ranging from decreasing the building’s energy costs to those wishing to achieve LEED certification. Projects are made sustainable to varying degrees, based on project specifications. Wagman will make some sustainability initiatives standard practice when possible, including recycling construction waste and utilizing local deliveries.

“The waste that comes out of a construction site is extensive. By performing on-site separation of recyclable materials, we are able to minimize the waste heading to the landfill,” explains Ted Miller, project manager at Wagman Construction. “We can also, in our pre-construction process, guide owners toward more green or sustainable products.” Wagman offers no-obligation consultations and is happy to incorporate sustainability in even the most simple of ways.

Wagman brings great value to its clients by building sustainability into every stage of a project’s progression, from the worksite to the overall functioning of the building. When a client is ready to go all-in in terms of sustainability, Wagman’s LEED Accredited Professionals can make clients’ dreams a reality, and in many cases, deliver results over and above expectations.

Its work on the Dickinson College Kline Fitness Center project, which has LEED Gold Certification in its sights, involved significant efforts in order to attain the LEED program requirements. Miller explains that the Dickinson project “was originally designed to LEED Silver specifications. Through collaboration with the architect, we were able to incorporate additional elements to conserve energy, reduce water consumption, and improve indoor air quality, pushing the project to the LEED Gold level.”

The facility, a fitness center and gym space accommodates five squash courts, large spectator areas and a sizeable atrium for students to enjoy. It features a sky-lit lobby and concourse and includes the use of extensive glass curtain walls. Many design considerations were made, with Wagman Construction actively involved in the process, to ensure project success.

The brand new addition is comprised of forty-two percent recycled materials, incorporating managed-forest certified wood, recycled steel, recycled rubber flooring and even recycled plastics for the composites in the spectator area. The glass contained recycled material, the aluminum contained a small amount of recycled material and even the concrete incorporated waste material from inside of smoke stacks.

One of the company’s niche markets is renovating newly constructed or historical buildings to create new spaces in accordance with sustainable practices. As an example, Snoke cites Logos Academy, adaptive reuse paired with new construction to create a 42,000 square foot private K-8 school with LEED for Schools Certification. Integrating a tower structure from 1882, the two-storey facility provides classroom space from kindergarten to grade eight, a cafeteria, auditorium, library and administrative offices.

Wagman’s Codo 28 project was the first LEED certified residential building in York County, Pennsylvania. Wagman’s renovation of the historic 26,000 square foot building resulted in eleven rental lofts and 700 square feet of retail space. Approximately eighty-four percent of the existing building’s floor, roofing, exterior walls and structural component remain intact. The additional green features include: day-lighting, high-efficiency gas furnaces, refurbished wood floors, rapidly renewable flooring products, low-VOC carpets and paints, water-saving faucets, dual flush toilets, and building materials comprised of recycled content. Codo 28 won the 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania Commonwealth Gold Design Award and the AIA Design Award for the innovative approach taken for this mixed-use project.

As cited on the company’s website and well known throughout the company’s ranks, according to Chairman Joe Wagman, “Our focus on green is, first and foremost, about ‘doing the right thing.’ We believe our efforts will serve as an example of a responsible business recognizing that its actions impact others both directly and indirectly.” The sentiment is echoed by his employees, who are proud to be a part of something special at Wagman Companies Inc.



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