Construction, Real Estate, and Sustainability
November 11, 2016
By Pat Evans
(Watch for this story Monday morning 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.
Bazzani is honored to be selected and featured as 1 of 100 small buisnesses across America by Small Business Revolution.
Photo by: Christina Clusiau
"We don’t just design and build green, we live it." - Guy Bazzani
Communities are living, breathing organisms. For them to grow and prosper, we need to care for them properly and make sure they are healthy – economically, socially, and environmentally. In 1983, Guy Bazzani founded Bazzani Building Company in Grand Rapids, Mich., to do just that. Bazzani designs and builds high-performance green buildings within diverse urban neighborhoods, with the goal of revitalizing communities and inspiring local businesses to collaborate and thrive.
Bazzani followed in the footsteps of his father, also an entrepreneurial builder, and saw the industry as a way to improve his neighborhood of Grand Rapids and others like it. “I decided to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.” In ten years, they have turned a largely abandoned, boarded up neighborhood into one of the most desirable,“ and by doing so,” says Bazzani, “we’ve inspired other developers to participate and consider this a hip neighborhood.”
“The construction and development business is a lot of destruction before you get to something constructive,” Bazzani explains. Bazzani Building Company approaches their work as giving back rather than taking away. They make sure to preserve historic buildings, and incorporate their green buildings into existing communities, making them healthier places to live and play.
Bazzani Associates’ dedication to sustainable living is evident not only in their work but in the way Guy Bazzani runs his business. In 2014 they were certified as an official B Corporation, a result of meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. What’s more, they were awarded the “Best for the World” designation by B Corp. by earning a score in the top 10 percent globally – no small feat for a small business based out of Grand Rapids.
Despite the recognition, nothing makes Bazzani happier than the relationships he’s built and the positive growth he’s witnessed in the community.
“As a small business owner, you rely on the close relationships you build. You build them well, and you hope they last through the rough times. And they certainly have for us.”
Photos by: Christina Clusiau
Additional photos and a full slideshow are available at: http://smallbusinessrevolution.org/story/bazzani-associates/
OWOSSO — North Washington Street, between Main and Exchange streets, is usually bustling with activity — but Wednesday there were no cars and only a handful of pedestrians.
The block is closed to vehicle traffic all week as a result of water and sewer line work at the Wesener Building, 104, 106 and 108 Washington, which is being renovated into retail spaces and apartments.
Arvid Warstler, owner of Funny Pages Hobbies & Comics on Washington across from the Wesener Building, said the short closure is no problem.
“The work has to be done. I support anybody renovating their building,” Warstler said. Besides, he added, “my customers will run through mud, swim the rivers and climb over mountains to get here.”
In the current phase of the $2.5-million Wesener rehabilitation project, new water and sewer lines are being installed and connected to the city’s mains.
Getting the water flow right is important to Dave and Dianne Acton, who own the Wesener Building.
In July 2007, the structure was badly burned in a fire that killed one man, and has since remained vacant. This time around, it will have a state-of-the-art fire suppression system featuring sprinkler heads in every room.
“This building is an historic asset, and we’re making sure the whole building can never burn again,” Dave Acton said.
On Monday, the sidewalk out front was dug up to reveal five or six ancient 1-inch taps attached to the main water line. On Tuesday and Wednesday, workers began to replace the lines with a single 6-inch tap. Two-inch lines connected to the tap will provide filtered water to the housing units.
“The volume of water is going to be four times what it was,” Acton said.
At the same time, crews found an old sewer pipe inside the building that was damaged beyond repair. A new one will run to the main sewer workers found underneath the sidewalk.
“It’s going as expected,” Owosso City Manager Don Crawford said. “When you get into these old buildings, you don’t know what you’re going to find.”
The Actons’ general contractor, Bazzani Associates based in Grand Rapids, is overseeing the sewer and water work. Owosso Department of Public Works employees are handling the part of the job that involves the city’s main lines.
Replacing utilities is just one aspect of the Actons’ rehabilitation of the three-story, 18,000-square-foot Wesener Building. The couple’s goal is to preserve the original look of the exterior from 1887 while offering modern amenities inside.
The first floor will include retail spaces, while the upper floors will consist of six apartments, plus the Actons’ own loft and office. Each 1,400-square-foot apartment will boast two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with laundry and storage rooms, pantries and granite countertops.
The entire building will be LEED-certified, verifying it as an environmentally responsible and healthy place to live and work. The project is expected to be completed by late November.
Joe O’Connor, the on-site construction superintendent from Bazzani, cautiously predicted the sewer and water line work will wrap up Friday, with Washington reopening by Saturday.
“If we have a few things fall in line, (finishing by Saturday) is a really good prospect,” O’Connor said.
By SALLY YORK, Argus-Press Staff Writer