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Some problems are good to have.

Right now, Michigan’s construction industry is experiencing a “feast after famine” period, with a correlating shortage of workers.

There’s a growing demand for architects, engineers and technical consultants, James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center, tells Michigan Capitol Confidential. Unemployment’s the lowest it’s been in 15 years, and Hohman agrees with Gov. Rick Snyder’s assessment that “there are growing opportunities in the skilled trades.”

“But there are also more low-skill, entry-level jobs available,” Hohman adds. “A tightening job market may do a lot to increase wages in these fields.”

With the building boom driving economic growth, applying green practices to design, the choice of products and the methods of construction will become less onerous in commercial developments.

We’ve compiled a list of 15 commercial builders in Michigan who emphasize environmentally friendly and sustainable building practices, many before it was cool to go green.


A full-service contractor, Commercial Contracting Corporation in Auburn Hills offers a full range of services, from design and build to facilities management.

One of its most recent award-winning projects was the Consumers Energy service center in Bad Axe, on which CCC served as designer and builder. From the environmentally friendly materials to its architectural design and operating systems, the entire 7,076-square-foot facility is LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.


Headquartered in Detroit, this 100-year-old construction company has 15 offices across the nation, with a global presence in Mexico, South America, and the Middle East. Walbridge serves a wide range of markets; this full-service company offers everything from general contracting to design-build, including virtual design and construction.

To date, Walbridge has completed more than 70 LEED registered or certified projects and has also developed its own sustainability practices, called the GreenWISE (Walbridge Intelligent Sustainability and Environmental) program. Under the program, each job site is graded on 18 onsite practices that lower a project’s impact on the environment, including safety and spill control, and the use of biodiesel fuels whenever possible.

Barton Malow

One of two Michigan-based construction firms named in Engineering News-Record’s Top 100 Green Building Contractors for 2016 (Walbridge above was the other), Barton Malow in Southfield is an employee-owned company that donates on average 5 percent of its pre-tax profits every year to charity.

The firm’s sustainability team develops new green practices on job sites and at their own offices; this year the team is focusing on reducing the company’s own energy emissions.


Richter Construction is a commercial and residential general contractor in Traverse City, offering general contractor, design-build, and construction management services to the market across Northern Michigan. Committed to green and sustainable building practices, RCI works with LEED-certified architects, engineers, subcontractors and material suppliers to create low-impact facilities.



A member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Wolverine Building Group has 15 LEED-accredited professionals on staff in addition to 13 Green Advantage certified practitioners. The Grand Rapids-based company has four divisions: building, construction management, multifamily and one called Wolverine North America, which offers full-service program management and construction services for projects throughout the nation.


Since 1985, this full-service general contractor in Wixom has been working with commercial and industrial clients across the state. Specializing in green building services, including sustainable and LEED-certified construction, SI is an authorized builder for Nucor and Ceco Building Systems, two of the largest pre-engineered metal building manufacturers in the industry. Its steel is 100 percent recyclable, and Nucor is the largest steel recycler in America. “It doesn’t get any greener than that,” writes the Schonsheck team.


For more than 55 years, this green building specialist has been Northern Michigan’s commercial and light commercial builder of choice. Located in Traverse City, Burkholder’s construction projects include retail and grocery stores, healthcare projects and office build-outs.

The firm built the city’s first American Lung Association “Health House” in the mid-1990s, and has been committed ever since to designing solutions that offer “shelter, energy and resource savings, natural daylight, indoor air quality, aesthetics, affordability and a neutral impact on our environment.”

Peterson Homes

While the majority of its projects are residential, Peterson Homes also builds light commercial projects, many as part of waterfront developments. Headquartered in Traverse City, the company incorporates green building principles into each new construction or remodel, intent on creating environmentally conscious and high-performance buildings.

Using sustainable building practices such as renewable energy technologies that conserve resources, Peterson Homes has been going green since it was founded in 1992 by Jan Peterson, an NAHB-certified green builder.


Three decades ago, this construction and development firm was founded by a carpenter and developer. Today, AVB’s development portfolio includes more than $1 billion worth of projects in Southwest Michigan, including residential and commercial new construction.

An environmentally conscious builder, AVB’s staff features several LEED-accredited professionals and members of the U.S. Green Building Council. Projects include those with geothermal heating and cooling systems, wetlands and erosion mitigation, and stream reconstruction and restoration.

Bailey Construction

This family owned and operated business, founded by Tom Bailey some 30 years ago, is a Green Built Michigan member. Bailey Construction offers design build for custom residential homes and light commercial projects, including dental, medical, general business as well as local eateries.

Located in Saginaw, Bailey Construction has been a member of the Home Builders Association of Saginaw for many years and was twice voted Builder of the Year.


B&W Detroit


Another Green Built Michigan member, Nugent Builders started as a family-owned residential construction company in Rockford in 1978. Its commercial division was formed in 1995, and focuses on four areas:

  1. general contractor,
  2. construction management,
  3. design-build,
  4. and general trades.


Building homes, condos, and commercial buildings for more than 35 years in and around Traverse City, Socks Construction uses the latest green building construction practices in all its projects. They pay careful attention to Energy Star ratings, meeting or exceeding standards for glazing, insulation and HVAC mechanical systems. This ensures buildings are environmentally safe, healthy and cost-effective.


Robert E. Johnson Contracting in Lake Linden is a family-owned business with 40 years experience in commercial, residential and restoration contracting. Their process from design to build is green and sustainable, attained in part through the use of local materials and long-lasting products, whether the project is concrete loading docks or large commercial buildings.

Ken Moe Construction

A full-service contractor in Spring Arbor, Ken Moe offers commercial and residential services, including project management, commercial interiors, office remodels and custom designs. A family business established in 1986, Ken Moe Construction is a green concept builder, member of the HBA of Jackson and an EPA-certified Lead-Safe Renovator.

A.J. Veneklasen

This Grand Rapids general contractor offers design-build services in addition to construction management and interior design. Staff members are LEED-certified, so buildings are designed for improved energy and water efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions, and better indoor environmental quality.

The family-owned company is led by CEO Alan J. Veneklasen, who started in construction in 1964. His son, Chris Veneklasen, serves as president.


Peter Dargatz