What's Happening

Mountain States Construction.com
By WIlliam Atkinson
Kennecott Land Co. of South Jordan, Utah, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto—a London-based, multi-billion-dollar global mining company—was formed in 2001 by a handful of people who wanted to develop former mining land into thriving living and working communities.
“Our goal is to take these lands when mining activity is complete and develop them into enduring communities,” says Ty McCutcheon, vice president of community development for Kennecott. “Despite challenging times these last few years, we have achieved quite a bit of success.”
The first and largest of its communities is called Daybreak, located in South Jordan, Utah.
McCutcheon says one reason for the company’s success is that “we began by asking people how they wanted to live and work. Through hundreds of conversations, we painted a picture that depicted a different option for people that wasn’t available in the marketplace. We have stuck to that vision over the last decade, and we are being rewarded for it.”
The company opened Daybreak for home sales in 2004. Since then, it has moved in 2,500 families, and the population is close to 10,000. In 2009, Daybreak represented about 16% of all new home sales in the Salt Lake market, McCutcheon says.
Businesses continue to be drawn to the community, too. “We are just crossing the 1 million sq ft line in terms of retail, office and industrial space,” McCutcheon adds. Part of the company’s overall development program includes selling parcels of land to other entities. In 2009, for example, it sold a piece of property to eBay, which built a large data center in Daybreak.
Green Cornerstones
Sustainable development has always been a filter through which Kennecott Land makes its decisions. “We are a global leader in sustainable development practices,” McCutcheon says. “We do this through some key cornerstones we want to see in Daybreak and all of our communities.”
He says the six tenets to sustainability are safe and vibrant neighborhoods, a healthy and sustainable environment, lifelong learning opportunities, robust local economy, integration of natural and open spaces, and collaboration and active engagement among stakeholders.
Energy management is an important part of the Kennecott equation. “Clearly, going forward, energy continues to be a major issue,” McCutcheon says. “One thing we try to do is focus our development efforts around community and building design that reduce energy and water usage.”
Piper Rhodes, manager of sustainable development, health, safety and environment for Kennecott, says the firm operates under a master plan as well as a series of sustainable guidelines. She adds that Kennecott had those guidelines “before LEED and EPA’s Energy Star programs were well-known.” One of the first strategic decisions the company made when it decided to build its own buildings at Daybreak was to commit to LEED certification. One of the first buildings it built was a combination elementary school and community center, LEED-Silver-certified and Energy Star-rated.
“All of our commercial projects are built to LEED-Gold and -Silver standards, and our corporate center was the first LEED-Platinum building in Utah,” McCutcheon says. Kennecott Land also owns the only distribution center in the state that is LEED certified.
Rhodes says the firm “uses sustainability as a component of how we select our business partners. When we sold improved lots to builders, we wanted them to build products that were examples of sustainable development. We only selected builders who were committed to those guidelines.”
Related sustainable strategies include requiring all builders to build Energy Star-rated homes, requiring contractors to participate in an onsite construction waste recycling program, offering low-water-flow fixtures to homebuyers, allowing residents to grow their own vegetables in an organic community garden, preserving open space and a goal of planting 100,000 trees within Daybreak.
New Projects
Kennecott Land broke ground in late July on a new 208,000-sq-ft, multi-specialty medical clinic that will be operated by Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Medical System. It will include an eye center, cancer center, orthopedic group and 24-hour emergency room.
“What is especially nice about this project is that the light-rail transit system that is burgeoning in the Salt Lake Valley currently connects to the university’s main campus,” says McCutcheon. The new line being built also extends into and ends at Daybreak.
Another new project is called Crossing at Daybreak, a 300-unit apartment community adjacent to the South Station rail line.
Looking to the future, McCutcheon says there is a 500-acre piece of land in the center of Daybreak that Kennecott Land envisions as its town center. “We are in the early stages of planning this area,” he adds. “We have entitlement within Daybreak for up to 14 million sq ft of retail, office and industrial space. Nine million of this will be retail and office.”
Safety and Health
Kennecott Land Co. certified its environmental management system in 2005 to International Standards Organization’s 14001 standard, which addresses aspects of environmental management.
“This set a good foundation for our health and safety program as well,” says Piper Rhodes, the firm’s manager of sustainable development, health, safety and environment. “We have implemented all OSHA standards, as well as additional safety and health standards, policies and systems that are in place in Rio Tinto, which are often more restrictive than OSHA standards.”
For example, the OSHA construction-industry standard for working at heights doesn’t require a tie-off until a worker is above 8 ft. Rio Tinto requires that everyone be tied off at 6 ft or above.
In 2008, Kennecott merged its health and safety system with its environmental management system. “This is the overall program under which everything we do with our employees, contractors and subcontractors falls,” Rhodes says.
Ty McCutcheon, vice president of community development, adds that the company’s safety philosophy begins with a desire to have a zero-harm culture. “We want to send everyone home safe each night,” he says. “Employees work onsite and engage in health-safety-environment interactions, which involve chats with everyone to see if there are things we can do to help them work more safely.”
Kennecott Land utilizes the TRACK System for safety: Think through the tasks, Recognize the hazards, Assess the risks, Control the hazards, Keep safety first in all tasks.
Rhodes says Kennecott Land holds contractors and subcontractors to the same safety and health guidelines it holds itself to. “We consider their safety and health performance every bit as important as our own,” she adds. “In fact, we lump all of the hours that they work in with our own hours when it comes to computing safety performance.”