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Beyond The ‘E’: How One General Contracting Firm Embraces Every Part Of ESG

Truebeck's Team for Tomorrow regularly volunteers at nonprofit organizations like the Oregon Food Bank.

Over the last few years, more commercial real estate firms have announced plans to achieve new environmental, social and corporate governance goals.

For CRE companies, embracing ESG is not just about contributing to a greener, more equitable world, but attracting new business as well. CBRE’s 2022 U.S. Investor Intentions Survey found that an increasing number of investors are adopting ESG criteria for their real estate investment decisions, with 70% of survey respondents reporting they have already put these goals in place, and another 10% saying they plan to do so in the next three to five years.

Often, when the topic of ESG and CRE is raised, the conversation is focused on the “E.” Real estate is responsible for 40% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, so there is enhanced pressure on the industry to do more to lessen its environmental impact. However, it is equally crucial for CRE firms to develop and execute social and corporate governance goals. 

“ESG, and each of its core tenets, is not new to us,” said Sean Truesdale, co-founder at Truebeck, a West Coast-based general contracting firm. “The recent industry focus on ESG has proven to Truebeck that we have always prioritized operating as responsible stewards for our team members, stakeholders, local communities and the Earth since the inception of the firm.” 

Bisnow spoke with Nick Pera, the firm’s chief operating officer, to learn more about why ESG has always been a priority for the firm and how, specifically, it embraces each of its concepts.

The San Mateo County Office Building 3 — COB3 — in Redwood City, California, is a mass timber structure; the project targets Net Zero Energy and LEED Platinum certification.


Starting with its environmental commitment, Pera and Truesdale were among the first in the industry to become LEED-accredited professionals, and together drive the firm’s sustainability goals. Truebeck has been focused on working with mass timber and specifically cross-laminated timber for its construction projects, Pera said. Cement and concrete manufacturing are responsible for an estimated 8% of global GHG emissions, while the global iron and steel industry is responsible for another 5%. Using timber in place of these materials produces significantly less carbon dioxide emissions. 

For the San Mateo County Office Building 3 project in Redwood City, California, a 208K SF five-story building, Truebeck built a unique mass timber structure that included glulam columns/beams and CLT structural decking.

“Our team prioritized the best sustainable design practices and performance optimization, including solar panels, which supports the project’s goal of achieving net-zero energy and LEED Platinum,” Pera said. 

This is just one of several projects Truebeck has built using mass timber, with others including Chiles House, the first mass timber affordable housing project in Portland, Oregon, and TimberView, which will be the tallest mass timber affordable housing development in Portland. 

Along with its focus on mass timber, Truebeck is committed to helping properties gain LEED, WELL, Living Building Challenge and Fitwel certifications. The firm has completed 10 LEED Platinum and 24 LEED Gold projects along the West Coast, with its own offices designed and built to LEED Platinum. The environment is one of Truebeck’s six philanthropic initiatives, as they focus fundraising and volunteering on quarterly beach cleanups and community partnerships that improve the environment.

The San Francisco-Marin Food Bank’s expanded facility combines functionality and aesthetics to create a modern, efficient space for the organization to carry out its mission.


While environmental factors are often the easiest to measure in the ESG framework, Truebeck has established social and governance goals as well. The human factor of ESG at Truebeck centers around health and wellness, safety, diversity, inclusion and belonging and community relations.

Pera said that many of Trubeck’s environmentally conscious projects also benefit the community. Chiles House, in Portland, offers “deeply affordable housing” for the neighborhood and ongoing programs to help its residents succeed long-term. These include pregnancy, parenting and family services, refugee and immigration legal services, housing transition assistance and more. 

Truebeck also worked on the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank in San Francisco, a design-build food distribution center with the goal of substantially increasing food capacity to achieve SFMFB’s mission to end hunger in San Francisco and Marin counties. The building is all electric, lowering its carbon footprint, and it now serves 200,000 people every week, up from 141,000 before the expansion.

“The S.F.-Marin Food Bank project was special for many reasons, one being that Truebeck has been a longtime volunteer and community partner,” Pera said. “Truebeck’s Team for Tomorrow volunteer program hosts more than 35 events and fundraisers a year and is focused on improving lives for the six initiatives we support: youth, education, health, environment, military and workforce training.” 

Pera added that the firm also has a monthly volunteer program with Second Harvest Food Bank and a quarterly volunteer program with the Oregon Food Bank and River City Food Bank in Sacramento.

“Truebeck’s core value of ‘business and life are all about people’ captures our fundamental belief and guiding principle that people are at the center of everything,” Truesdale said. “Central to that is the company’s diversity, inclusion and belonging steering committee that leads initiatives for diverse hiring, ongoing Truebeck Academy training, employee resource groups, a mentorship program for women, recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities, all-gender restrooms and diverse supplier and vendor procurement.”

Pera said that Truebeck’s social responsibility is ensuring its team members safety and well-being. It has received the CEA Safety Excellence Award for 16 years and is one of eight general contractors in the California Voluntary Protection Program, which recognizes companies that have voluntarily managed outstanding safety and health programs. 

Some of Truebeck’s other social initiatives include participation in National Construction Inclusion Week, a continual partnership with the Ever Forward Club, which mentors underserved youth in middle and high school, an annual mental health awareness campaign and free therapy for team members. 

Truebeck's reality capture division, Siteline, uses a NavVis VLX Laser Scanner to capture and analyze existing conditions and in-place work to analyze and coordinate future scopes.


Truesdale said that for Truebeck, corporate governance means high ethics, continued financial stability, innovation management, diverse supplier spend and diversity in the industry and at the firm. Driven by its mission statement to “elevate industry standards,” Truebeck is consciously focused on improving diversity in an industry that historically lacks an underrepresented workforce. The company has been ranked one of the top 10 general contractors in the Bay Area year after year by the San Francisco Business Times, and one of ENR’s top 25 general contractors in California. Nationally, Truebeck is ranked No. 51 in new contracts awarded. 

Truebeck is also continuously striving for greater innovation, Truesdale said. Years ago, foreseeing the importance of data, the firm created a data engineering department and a real-time data warehouse to further develop new technologies and bring added value to its clients. As a result, it won the highest innovation award in the industry, a 2022 Groundbreaker Award for Excellence in Innovation from Procore, a construction management software firm.

“Truebeck conducts business in a way that creates shared value and supports the long-term success of the firm through value for shareholders, delivering high-quality services and buildings to our clients, helping diverse suppliers, providing a great place to work, supporting local communities and improving environmental practices for our Earth,” Truesdale said. “Shouldn’t we all?” 

This article was produced in collaboration between Truebeck and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. To learn more about how Studio B can help your team, reach out to