Constructing a Legacy of Conservation – Interview with Sundt Construction

If there’s one thing that Texas businesses know how to do, it’s get the job done. At Texan by Nature (TxN), there’s nothing we love more than seeing industry leaders making strides in both their craft and in conservation as part of their company’s culture. With only weeks to go until the TxN 20 submission deadline, we’re featuring examples of businesses practicing excellence in conservation and sustainability. We sat down with Sundt Regional Vice President, Todd Calder to learn about one of the country’s leading construction companies and hear what makes them Texan by Nature.

TxN: What is your name and role at Sundt?

Calder: Todd Calder, Vice President, Texas Regional Director.


TxN: What does Sundt do and what is Sundt’s mission?

Calder: Sundt Construction is a multi-faceted construction company with business units dedicated to delivering successful outcomes for our commercial building, transportation and industrial partners. Our mission is to be the most skilled builder in America by building environments where our clients, employee-owners, and communities prosper.


Sundt Construction poses on-site.

TxN: What does conservation or sustainability mean to Sundt?

Calder: For Sundt, sustainability means doing the right thing to better impact the immediate environment, while also focusing on long-term benefits to our clients, while also benefiting the end-users’ experience. We are purpose driven, and our environmental responsibility is a priority for our company as well as our employee owners. We set out to impact our projects with our clients and design team partners through resource efficiency throughout the lifecycle of a building project, which means being a resource steward and understanding the impacts of these decisions, energy reduction and higher control to ensure optimized performance during use and elimination of waste during non-peak operation, meaning better building performance and improved indoor air and environmental quality, building efficiency through the optimization of exterior skin elements and effective building envelope techniques – design, test, and commission the right system to work with the buildings HVAC system to produce the best overall outcome, sensible and non-toxic material selections, which means choosing aesthetically pleasing products that are manufactured with an environmental emphasis, and conservation-minded material disposing of practices like generating less waste and focusing on recycling and re-use to divert materials from landfills.


TxN: What are examples of conservation or sustainability practices that Sundt does or implements?

Calder: Sundt, as a company, is committed to bettering the communities where we live and work. A great example of this commitment to sustainability can be found at the CPS Energy Headquarters project in San Antonio. This project, at its core, is an excellent sustainability and re-use example. CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility provider, purchased the McCullough properties, initially constructed in 1979, and unoccupied for over five years before their purchase, and is converting them into their consolidated headquarters. The project involves removing 100% of the existing interior and exterior construction and taking the buildings back to its structural steel frame to rebuild both into a modern, efficient, 490,000 square foot office building. Some of the sustainable characteristics include the fact that the project was designed as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver project but is trending toward a potential LEED Gold certification and will apply for full LEED certification after its 2020 completion, the fact that the project included over 9,000 tons of demolished material, of which, approximately 88% of that material has been recycled and diverted away from landfills, the re-use of existing material, eliminating waste and reducing the overall carbon footprint, the sourcing of local materials whenever possible within a 100-mile radius, including Texas limestone, significantly reduces emissions during the transportation phases of the project, the concrete placed on the building addition and the new parking garage includes a fly ash additive which recycles an otherwise difficult product to dispose of. This project is even more unique in that the fly ash being used is a by-product of CPS Energy’s use, the fact that we are installing cisterns to capture and re-use rainwater for landscape irrigation, sun shading devices being installed with have the potential to track the angle of the sun to reduce the load requirements on the building’s air conditioning system, reducing energy, photovoltaics are planned for the roof structure of the parking garage to provide shading for the upper level vehicles, while also creating an alternative energy source for the building, all lighting throughout the building and garage utilize LED technology to reduce the overall power required to light the building. The lighting is also controlled by both motion sensors and a lighting control system to reduce energy consumption. And, unfortunately, to accommodate the project’s parking garage, some existing trees were required to be removed, while we are replacing these with like-sized trees on the site, we also sent a portion of the uprooted trees to a mill to be turned into accent pieces for the project’s millwork. Overall, this project serves as a great example of what working for a great client, CPS Energy, with a committed design partner, Corgan, and a dedicated construction partner, Sundt, can do to benefit the Texas skyline while also making our State a better place to live.


Sundt Construction breaking soil


TxN: What part do businesses like Sundt have to play in conservation in Texas and beyond?

Calder: The construction industry itself is a complicated process of modifying or creating environments that were by nature, something different or not there before we arrived. Sundt works with our clients and design partners to find the best solutions that still meet their business requirements. Sundt currently employs over 100 LEED Accredited Professionals and has completed over 70 LEED Projects, including 14 LEED Platinum and 28 LEED Gold certified projects. Additionally, Sundt is consistently ranked by ENR as one of the Top 100 Green Contractors. We build environments for a living, but our passion and expertise are displayed through our commitments to building better communities.


TxN: What is one recommendation on conservation or sustainability that you wish more people knew about or would practice?

Calder: Creativity is always welcome. Sundt is proud of our employee-owners commitment to meeting the standards of our industry, but we genuinely celebrate it when they excel beyond the expectations. Whether by organizing a recycling program at an office that did not previously have one (we instituted this in 2018 at our San Antonio, Sundt Texas headquarters building) or working with our partners to build a better, more sustainable solution, we are committed to a culture of continuous improvement in all we do.


TxN: What makes Sundt Texan by Nature?

Calder: While Sundt did not start as a Texas company, we got here as quick as we could. Sundt has been providing exceptional results for our Texas clients for over 50 years and currently boast 4 Texas offices, including San Antonio, Fort Worth, Irving and El Paso.  We are committed to Texas and to the Texans that make it a great place to live and raise a family. I know I speak for many of my native Texan co-workers when I say, “There is absolutely no other place I would rather live and work than right here in Texas.”


Sundt Construction at work


TxN: What’s your favorite thing about Texas?

Calder: My favorite thing about Texas… is a three-way tie between the food (you can’t get better bar-b-que or Mexican food anywhere else in the US), the people (always friendly and willing to lend a hand, genuine southern hospitality), and the pride. I love the fact that a Texas stands out in a crowd for bragging about the home that he or she likes.


Learn more about Sundt at:


If your Texas-based business has a conservation story to share, consider submitting for the TxN 20 before the August 14 deadline!


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