Strategic Sustainability

Strategic sustainability Strategic sustainability

As one of the nation's most significant land developers, we're making an impact by reducing our impact.

Toll Brothers is among the nation's larger land developers, with approximately 63,000 lots owned and controlled as of October 31, 2020 across all regions of the country. We select sites that support our strategy of creating thriving communities in the most desirable locations—at the corner of "Main and Main." As a result, we tend to operate in some of the most difficult, highly regulated land approval markets in the U.S.

Our buyers want to live in communities that foster a sense of place and exist in harmony with the surrounding environment. Therefore, both as a matter of business strategy and increasing land-use regulation, we consistently integrate environmental and social considerations into our approach to buying and managing land, including flood risk, sustainable transport, promoting local economic development, walkability, proximity to mass transit, local businesses, and redevelopment.

At Toll Brothers, our environmental priorities include:

Supporting our company's growth by meeting or exceeding customer expectations related to sustainable products and energy-efficient homes

Improving our operational efficiency, including lowering costs and reducing the environmental footprint of our operations and supply chain

Fostering a company culture of sustainability that engages and attracts people who want to make a difference

Expanding engagement with our stakeholders on environmental issues

Demonstrating our commitment from the top, including continued integration of sustainability into company goals and decision-making

Increasingly, states and municipalities are integrating sustainability practices into the land use approval process. The scale of our business and the high standards by which we operate make us a key stakeholder for sustainability in land development, and we are proud to promote responsible practices as we work with neighbors and local authorities to develop our lots. From initial sketch design through final development, Toll Brothers works with land planners, landscape architects, engineers, environmental consultants, architects, and other urban design and permitting professionals to ensure that our communities meet or exceed all federal, state, and local development standards to protect the environment.

Every Toll Brothers community is designed to help protect sensitive environmental site features and site surroundings as well as animal habitats and migration patterns to the greatest extent possible. Site planning considerations include, but are not limited to:

Wetland conservation and buffering

Animal and plant habitat protection

Waterway and watershed protection through building setbacks and stormwater best management practices

Woodland preservation including identification of heritage trees and replacement of trees cleared for development

Protection of steep slopes and ridgelines

Identification and cataloging of ancient and historic artifacts

Floodplain avoidance, study, and mapping

Rainwater runoff reduction, filtering, and infiltration

Of the 24 states in which we operated in FY 2020, we delivered the most homes in California with 1,115 deliveries. Our California homebuyers and regulators are focused on reducing the environmental footprint of homes. Toll Brothers adheres to CA Energy Commission Building Efficiency Standards, including Title 24. New homes in California are predicted to reduce energy demand from the electricity grid by over 50% and avoid 235,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually according to the California Energy Commission 2018 Accomplishments Report. This is equivalent to:

Eliminating Emissions

Eliminating emissions from 50,770 passenger vehicles

Planting Trees

Planting 3,885,775 tree seedlings grown for 10 years

Recycle

79,932 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled

A Sustainable Approach to Site Planning and Improvement

Prior to embarking on site improvement, the Toll Brothers land planning team incorporates responsible land planning strategies into areas such as site design and layout to address issues inherent to sustainability. We concentrate on reducing the amount of natural land impacted by a development, as well as preserving as many of the natural land features, as feasible. We aim to preserve open space, and in denser infill products, to use fewer materials that travel shorter distances, in order to reduce the energy impacts on the environment.

The first step our land planning team takes to evaluate a site for development is to map all of the existing site conditions, including but not limited to topography (steep slopes, ridgelines), hydrology (water features, wetlands, flood zones), current and historical land uses on the site, and adjacent land uses. In many places where Toll Brothers builds, we are able to map existing and potential habitats including animal travel routes, nesting areas, and seasonal breeding grounds such as vernal pools.

When drawing any land plan, particularly for a "greenfield" site (one that is previously undeveloped), our team identifies areas in need of protection and strategically lays out roads and home sites to minimize the impact on these natural features. As a business practice, we follow the natural contours of the land to the greatest extent possible. Toll Brothers' most impressive communities enhance the existing natural features of the site and preserve them as community assets for the people who live there. For example, a preserved band of woodlands around the perimeter of a development creates a linkage to regional wildlife corridors; and a trail through the woodlands creates a place for residents to exercise, travel through their community, and enjoy nature. A lake or pond in a community creates an important habitat for local wildlife at the same time that it adds value to the homeowners living around it and doubles as a natural stormwater management system.

The site planning approach is different for redevelopment and infill properties, which in many cases are completely surrounded by existing developed buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. In these locations, Toll Brothers follows "smart growth" best practices to integrate the design of the new homes into the fabric of the existing community through context-sensitive architecture and urban design. Ideal infill sites are walkable to public transportation, retail shops, and other amenities, and ideal infill communities integrate seamlessly into and enhance the existing community.

Designed for Connectivity

Toll Brothers communities put a strong emphasis on connectivity by providing pedestrian and bicycle mobility throughout the community using dedicated lanes and trails. By connecting internal bicycle lanes to the citywide bike lane system, as well as encouraging pedestrian mobility through designated trails and walkways, the design of our communities contributes to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the surrounding area while promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.

Water Conservation Through Landscape

When it comes to landscape design, the idea of sustainability is a vital component. Through intentional design and execution using, where available, techniques such as recycled water and Smart Controller Technology, Toll Brothers is able to conserve and reduce water consumption by almost 20%, minimize labor required for operation and maintenance, protect native habitats, plants, and species, and prevent water runoff as well as overspray.

Erosion and Sediment Control

Sedimentation is a product of soil erosion that can be beneficial when it occurs naturally. However, uncontrolled erosion and sedimentation can also be harmful to the environment as it may result in the filling of waterways, increased flooding, and damage to plant and animal life.

We aim to protect rivers, streams, and lakes with best management practices designed in accordance with local, state, and federal guidelines. Prior to the construction of any community, we plan for appropriate erosion prevention and sedimentation control measures, including:

  • Using site construction sequencing to manage earth disturbance activities
  • Stockpiling and protecting topsoil from erosion
  • Controlling the path and velocity of stormwater runoff
  • Reducing sediment movement with silt fences and silt socks
  • Providing swales to divert surface water from hillsides
  • Keeping soil in sloped areas stabilized during construction by using tiers, erosion blankets, berms, and other methods
  • Using dust management plans in desert areas

Site Water Control

During the site development process, stormwater runoff may collect and flow over areas disturbed by the construction process. Uncontrolled stormwater runoff can have adverse impacts on humans and the environment, as it may pick up and carry pollutants into waterways and can contribute to flooding. As a result, local, state, and federal authorities require strict adherence to regulations that are designed to mitigate stormwater runoff. At Toll Brothers, we follow all applicable regulations and are proud of our efforts in addressing the impact of stormwater runoff as we develop our communities.

Toll Brothers provides integrated site design through stormwater management plans that incorporate runoff control measures. These plans specify the basic framework to minimize the effects of development on site hydrology, runoff flow rates, and pollutant loads. The measures provide onsite stormwater collection, retention, and filtration to reduce downstream impacts. These efforts help prevent floods and limit stormwater runoff flowing to creeks, oceans, or water treatment plants.

Toll Brothers sites consider the effects of runoff on water quality, and include infiltration measures such as bioswales, bioretention basins, and biodetention basins where applicable. The plans also detail clear Best Management Practices for measures to be installed, and their maintenance and inspection. Examples of Best Management Practices are:

  • Drafting a common area landscape maintenance plan
  • Training for all onsite employees
  • Street sweeping
  • Storm drain signage
  • Trash and waste storage to reduce pollutants
  • Irrigation system with smart controllers

Waste Control

In Toll Brothers' California operations, at least 65% of demolished construction material such as soil, mulch, vegetation, concrete, and lumber is recycled or reused. This is achieved through a Construction Waste Management Plan that is submitted, reviewed, and approved by the applicable municipality prior to a building permit being issued.

Reducing Waste Through Innovative In-House Manufacturing

Toll Integrated Systems (TIS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toll Brothers, manufactures and supplies quality engineered construction components and related services in a factory-controlled environment. TIS operates in 4 regions (6 plants total), with over 400 employees, and supplied components for approximately 35% of Toll Brothers' homes in FY 2020 throughout the Northern, Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the United States.

We strive to reduce waste by utilizing TIS to manufacture our building components whenever possible. We reduce scrap rates by replacing manual tooling at job sites with automated, intelligent machinery at TIS. Standardized processes and controls in our manufacturing process allow production workers to reuse materials for various parts in the component assembly as well. Recycling waste is simpler to manage in a manufacturing environment since staff members can repeat the process daily.

Sustainably Sourced Wood Products

The majority of materials that TIS purchases consist of sustainable wood products, either dimensional lumber or engineered wood products like Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams. Sustainable wood products can be repurposed on TIS production lines for wall panels and roof trusses, as well as third-party applications such as mulch and composting.

Intelligent Machinery

Our automated machinery significantly reduces waste. TIS utilizes automated linear feed saws that produce less wood scrap than traditional component saws. With this advanced machinery, wood scraps have been reduced since 2019.

In addition, wall panel sheathing is cut automatically to fit around window and door openings. This reduces waste when compared to traditional use of routers, which produces large amounts of unusable scraps.

Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is utilized to maximize the amount of value TIS puts into its products. This is primarily done by detecting and eliminating non-essential operational waste (for example, letting extra equipment run idle/use energy or the overproduction of components not yet on the schedule). The initial creation of non-essential waste has a direct negative impact on the environment. As a result, TIS strives to reduce non-essential waste creation through the continued integration of lean manufacturing in day-to-day operations.

Red Tag Area

Instead of discarding deficient or older equipment, each TIS location has a Red Tag Area where such equipment is checked for potential resale or donation so as not to create unnecessary waste.

Transportation of Product

TIS Logistics utilizes sophisticated map routing software that minimizes the distance traveled by TIS drivers, which keeps fuel consumption and environmental impact low. Load densities are also analyzed to minimize the number of deliveries and thus emissions by TIS transportation vehicles.

Zero-Scrap Policy

As part of the production operation, TIS continually works to reuse lumber drop-offs, also called scrap. This scrap can be repurposed and used in a variety of ways that do not impact home components or quality. If waste is created in a process, it goes through as many avenues for repurposing as possible before disposal.

Energy Conservation

All TIS plants work to conserve and make more efficient use of energy. For example, TIS Morrisville has removed old outdoor building lighting such as sodium halide and replaced it with LED lights to make more efficient use of power. As such, total wattage used for these lights decreased from 47.6 kW to 14.1 kW, a reduction of 70%. TIS continues to upgrade to LED lights at all facilities to further reduce power usage. Throughout our factories, TIS has also reduced energy consumption by turning to high-bay infrared heaters in lieu of forced air heating systems.