By Heidi Schwartz
The life of a facility manager is one filled with challenges and triumphs in all shapes and sizes. On one hand, these benchmarks can come in the shape of multimillion dollar new construction projects; on the other, they can manifest themselves in strategic renovations focused on savings rather than spending. For Stu Carron, director of global facilities and real estate for Sturtevant, WI-based JohnsonDiversey, conservation of resources has inspired him to take on a leadership role in setting new standards for his organization.
With a background in chemical engineering, Carron seized the opportunity to sign on with S.C. Johnson shortly after graduating from Northwestern University and completing stints with two other firms, large and small. The privately held, family managed company (which spun off JohnsonDiversey in 1997 as a division devoted to commercial products) had a long history of environmental achievements and sustainable business practices—a reputation held in high esteem by Carron, a Wisconsin native.
“When I was first looking for a job and wanted to move back to Wisconsin, a recruiter called up and said, ‘I’ve got a lead for a company in Wisconsin; I don’t know anything about it, but maybe you do. Would you like me to set up an interview?’ When he said it was S.C. Johnson, my response was ‘Get me in there!’ I had heard about this company in terms of its various leadership initiatives and its 100 year history, which correctly led me to believe it was a great place to work. In my 17 years with the company, I have come to know what makes it great—leadership that values its employees, its community, and the environment, but also requires good fiscal management—the idea around the triple bottom line to sustainability.”
Carron absorbed what he could as a chemical engineer and then moved on to work in procurement in the company’s global sourcing group. After being prompted by a coworker to apply for the facilities opening, he discovered, “its numerous competencies, which I had worked on before, albeit in a somewhat compartmentalized form. This aspect really appealed to me. I thrive on complexity. The more things you can throw at me simultaneously, the more excited I get about the job.”
Setting New Goals
When the JohnsonDiversey headquarters building was originally designed in 1997, it set out to meet an extremely high level of efficiency. In 2000, when Carron joined the facilities team, he immediately began investigating the possibility of improved conservation and even better savings. “Our building really was a demonstration project—a poster child for the US Green Building Council—even though it pre-dated LEED. When LEED-NC [new construction] finally did come out, we were asked on several occasions to certify it retroactively, but I didn’t see much value in doing that. We had a green building, and my focus was on operating it, not on documenting the fact it was built a certain way.”
However, when the LEED for Existing Buildings (EB) concept was developed in 2002 and the pilot program got underway, “that’s what made sense to me as a facilities manager,” he concedes.
Carron approached key members of the management team and said, “I think green buildings are the next megatrend in the building industry, and our company’s products, services, and support could be instrumental in helping make it happen.” From that point on, things at JohnsonDiversey began changing dramatically.
In order to support his cause, Carron developed a white paper that analyzed LEED-EB’s potential impacts on JohnsonDiversey and the marketplace. This paper also led management to understand that achieving LEED-EB certification affirmed the company’s corporate interests in pursuing sustainable business practices for the future.
“This white paper integrating LEED EB into business processes speaks to understanding and thinking differently about the role of facility management,” notes Judge Tim Springer, founder and president of Geneva, IL-based HERO Inc.
Judge Maria Vickers, operations manager of Marlborough, MA-based Workscape adds, “The lessons learned during this process were used to change the whole business into an environmentally conscious provider, which is indeed an innovation. Carron used his position as a facility manager to impact the entire business positively, which speaks of true dedication to the company and to his position as a change leader.”
Carron’s role as a change leader has been influenced by Johnson-
Diversey’s tradition of relying on outsourced service providers. But outsourcing doesn’t negate the need for a facility manager; if anything, it enhances the importance of this position.
“You still need someone inside the organization who can manage the outsource service providers. We’ve tried to hand over facility management completely to an outsource provider, but because the vendor was not culturally integrated and didn’t have a champion within our organization, there was a lot of criticism and conflict. Now the outsource service provider and our facility management team work from the same side of the table.
“Facility managers need many different competencies in order to do their jobs effectively. In the future, these areas must be developed. Through outsourcing, they can concentrate on these competencies while letting specialists handle those matters that may otherwise land in their laps. Our outsourcing partnerships allow us to trust the performance of our service providers and have them so well integrated into our team that our business people are communicating with them directly. It’s efficient and seamless,” says Carron.
With Carron’s guidance, achieving LEED-EB certification produced significant operational and financial improvements for JohnsonDiversey:
- Energy savings exceeding $90,000 per year (relative to a similar building designed without an integrated design approach and energy efficiency measures).
- Use of collected storm water for turf grass irrigation (reducing potable water use by more than two million gallons per year).
- Documentation that over 50% of site generated solid waste is recycled.
- The development of a high-performance cleaning program in alignment with LEED requirements.
- Procurement and construction management programs that impact maintenance materials choices from light bulbs to carpet, paint, office paper and toilet paper, thus improving indoor environmental quality and reducing waste and emissions.
Judge Springer says, “If all buildings were like this, we would be in much better shape as a society.”
In terms of financial savings, the economic benefits realized as a result of the building’s certification breakdown in the following manner:
- Annual net savings: $137,320
- Annual net savings per square foot: $0.49
- Life cycle net present value: $1,351,535
- Life cycle net savings per square foot: $4.87
- Return on investment: 0.5 years
Judge Tom Condon, facility technologist with Chicago, IL-based System Development Integration notes, “Carron’s savings are impressive, and he obviously knows how to calculate true savings. He even calculated the net present value—something I have not seen anyone else do!”
A Better Place To Be
In addition to achieving LEED-EB certification for the headquarters building, Carron also spearheaded the company’s move to apply LEED principles to its other properties.
“Through occupant satisfaction surveys, we know that green buildings are not only more efficient, but they are also better places to work. We are extending programs at the core of LEED-EB to additional properties and are looking at more certifications. Also, any new construction the company undertakes will be LEED certified.”
Through his work at JohnsonDiversey, Carron has been elected to chair the LEED-EB committee of the US Green Building Council for the next two years. Despite his efforts, he acknowledges, “There are still those facility managers reluctant to embrace sustainability holistically. One of the challenges is that they don’t recognize the value in having a third party acknowledge what they already feel they’re doing a good job at—energy conservation, waste management, etc. That’s where the value proposition for LEED as a comprehensive program needs to be developed. Our work on the LEED-EB Committee is focused on this and will drive further recognition and acceptance in the marketplace.”
Leading by example, Carron’s methodical approach has certainly made a positive impression on those who matter most. Judge Ken House, regional sales vice president for Lake Forest, IL-based Grainger refers to Carron as “a perfect example,” of facility management. He says, “Not only does he manage large, multiple buildings well, he also gains operational efficiencies and makes sure of other things so people won’t have to worry. The role he plays across so many different aspects of the business is incredibly impressive.” And as someone who sets the pace rather than watching and reacting, Carron has hit his stride at just the right time.
- Furniture: Herman Miller.
- Seating: Steelcase.
- Lighting: Philips Lighting.
- Cleaning Contractor: One Source.
- Security Service Contractor: Securitas.
- Maintenance Service Contractor: Johnson Controls.
- Food Service Contractor: Aramark.
- Mail and Reprographics Services: IKON.
- Landscaping Services: The Brickman Group.
This article was based on the nominee’s entry, which was supplemented by interviews with Carron and House.
To nominate someone for next year’s award, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.