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    Green CEO Interview with Tom Keckeis

     Tom Keckeis, President & CEO of Messer

    Messer Construction Co. is a construction manager and general contractor providing leadership for complex commercial building projects.  In addition to building projects, they are building their communities where they work, live and raise their families.  Therefore, LAND sds is highlighting Messer in this week’s edition of the Green CEO.

    Founded in 1932, Messer has built a premier reputation through outstanding construction experiences and value with a focus on health care, life sciences and higher education. An employee-owned company, Messer ranks nationally as one of the Top 100 largest contractors, as well as a Top 40 green contractor.  Messer was honored with the 2009 International Torch Award for Marketplace Excellence by the Council of Better Business Bureaus for superior commitment to exceptional standards that benefit customers, employees, suppliers and surrounding communities.  In fiscal 2010, Messer put in place approximately $513 million in commercial construction.

    With that in mind, what was the reason behind Messer “going green”? The answer is really simple - they are engaged in environmental issues year round for their customers.  Water and energy conservation, climate issues, and debris management are all areas of strong familiarity to them. “We made a conscious decision to utilize our expertise regarding green building practices as a way to add value for our customers and be a responsible community partner,” states Tom Keckeis, president and CEO.

    In 1997 and 2000, Messer participated in two (USGBC) United States Green Building Council’s pilot projects located in Columbus and Cincinnati. Messer managers began LEED credentialing in 2001 and now have over 70 LEED AP’s or GA’s. In 2003, Messer built the first LEED Certified project in the Kentucky Commonwealth at Berea College, which earned Silver Certification. They have built over 30 LEED projects in the following regions: Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Knoxville, Lexington, Louisville and Nashville. One of Messer’s most recent projects in Columbus has submitted for LEED Platinum. The owner is currently awaiting certification.

    In 2004, Messer researched and published a white paper on sustainability. That same year, a “green team” was formed and currently directs the company’s sustainable efforts. In 2009, Messer began their own LEED Existing Building or EB Certified project utilizing internal managers and now has an Energy Star, LEED EB Certified building at the Cincinnati Corporate Office, which has reaped substantial energy savings.

    Additionally, Messer promotes sustainable design and construction by educating the communities in which they live and work, and by participating in local USGBC Chapters. “Lunch & Learn’s” are great educational hour-long opportunities they provide to their partners.  In addition to Lunch & Learn’s, Messer participates in panel discussions on sustainability across industry.

    Now, many may argue that “green” initiatives are a costly addition to any project or process. Messer responds to that by saying, “A green project does not have to cost more if sustainability and/or energy efficiency are project goals from the beginning.”   

    Although projects that decide to become registered or certified through third-party agencies such as LEED, will pay a premium for the project review process.

    When thinking about the future and its sustainability,   Messer has started implementing new delivery methods to meet the needs of owners and changes within the industry. 

    According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) California council, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is a research-based, project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to reduce waste and optimize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication and construction.

    By integrating Lean Six Sigma planning prior to space programming and design, the opportunity is available to substantially save on the long-term costs of owning and occupying a building.  This creates long-term efficiencies and sustainability regarding the building’s life-cycle: from design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.[1] (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (October 28, 2009). Green Building Basic Information. Retrieved December 10, 2009)

    They also recognize that there are developments outside of their scope that affect everyone within the company; these include the economy, technology and our communities.  The economy has challenged everyone in the industry, but it has allowed us to be smarter about our work and push ourselves to continue to advance the construction industry. Technology, in regards to Building Information Modeling has been and is a significant development over the last four years and one in which Messer has made a large investment. By utilizing the latest 3-D technology and software, our in-house BIM group has delivered higher value for owners.

    Additionally, according to the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University and the Giving USA Foundation, total charitable giving contributions fell 3.6 percent in the year 2010. This staggering statistic illustrates the fact that our country and our communities within it continue to face extraordinary challenges. Yet, in spite of economic uncertainties, Messer has an unwavering commitment to community engagement and support.

    During 2010, Messer and its more than 750 employee-owners invested more than $1.2 million, in a variety of community organizations across the eight regions where we live, raise our families and build. Additionally, the Messer Foundation awarded three $25,000 grants to employee-recommended community organizations.

    Messer’s long-term commitment to participate, invest and give back is part of our company DNA. We firmly believe vibrant communities create inclusive and thriving businesses, which benefit all of us, especially our children and future leaders. 

    Finally, LAND sds asked Messer to rate its green aptitude considering processes, systems, delivery and supply chain - on a scale from one (1) to ten (10), 10 being the highest. Messer responded that they rate themselves at 8.5 out of ten.

    “We have come a long way over the past decade,” states Tom Keckeis, president and CEO.  In 2009, they started the LEED EBOM process in regards to their existing corporate office.  Strategic goals and implementation started between April and September of that year with planning done by Messer’s Building Systems Group.  Project performance was completed between the months of October 2009 and June 2010.  In December of 2010, the award of “certification” was made.

    Modifications to the building included the installation of occupancy sensors in offices and conference rooms, the installation of carbon dioxide sensor for demand-control ventilation, daylight harvesting, moisture sensors for irrigation, and water saving toilets.

    “We felt a strong sense of responsibility to create a building that was healthier for our staff, healthier for the environment and could serve as a leading example for other companies in the region,” states Keckeis.

    Messer is making strides within their industry through education and awareness.


    To learn more about Messer, please visit