The Bullocks group of companies want to make its riverside Whanganui site a more attractive gateway to the city as part of wider plans to reduce emissions.
In early moves Bullocks is building a new concrete batching plant, removing the old one, recycling soil from construction jobs, adding fences and trees across the site and considering using solar panels to generate electricity.
The four owners, Willy and Ben Morrell and Glen and Ivan Bullock, are all third generation Bullock descendants and directors of the construction business created in 1928 by their grandfather, Ben Bullock.
The managing director is Willy Morrell, an environmental scientist who has worked for government.
He's been in the job for about five years and said the construction industry is not easy to "green".
"It's going to be a slow transition across, but hopefully not too slow," he said.
The businesses sit on Whanganui riverside land under a network of lease arrangements. Two areas are leased from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and landbanked for Treaty of Waitangi settlement, and three are Whanganui District Council-owned harbour endowment land that will be passed to the organisation that will own the Whanganui port.
Bullocks has perpetually renewable leases on three pieces on either side of SH3, a total of 4.3ha. Those leases began in 1946 and 1974.
Another area is leased from the Crown and two others are recent additions from river silt and have no title.
The site is on either side of the Cobham Bridge, which makes it "the gateway to Whanganui".
"We realise that there's got to be a balance between us being able to carry out our operations but we also have to be mindful of the aesthetics of the site," Morrell said.
Whanganui District Council has been in discussions with Bullocks about the overall site, a spokeswoman said.
"The future possibilities for the site are varied. However, so long as the leases are held by Bullocks, the use of the land is under their control (subject to normal council regulatory requirements)."
The concrete batching plant on the upriver side of the bridge will be demolished, Morrell said, and replaced with a smaller, streamlined, energy efficient one on the downriver side. It could eventually be powered by electricity generated by solar panels.
It will occupy the site of the former Pitzac business, which used to employ four people making peeled and treated posts. New equipment there is used to screen soil so it can be re-used.
"Soil is a precious commodity and the last thing you want to do is dump it into a landfill."
At the upriver end of the site next to rail yards Bullocks has been leasing land destined for eventual Treaty settlement. It was used to mill logs, and the people subleasing it have been given notice.
Morrell is looking to "tidy it up". It has a new fence alongside the riverbank shared pathway, more planting will be done and trucks will be parked there.
Bullocks has done some planting under the bridge, and plans more to soften the impact of its industrial activities.
It is also looking to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Morrell said. Solar generation could help, as well as using electric vehicles for short haul trips.
Making cement uses a lot of energy and emits a lot of carbon. Bullocks is exploring alternative lower energy-content cement - but there's no real substitute for concrete, and it does last a long time.
"For a durable surface that wil last 70 years, concrete is tremendous."
In these times all businesses must to find ways to reduce their emissions, Morrell said.
"There's greater realisation now that climate change is a reality, and added pressure on the construction industry to do things more efficiently to reduce our emissions.
"Just as farmers will have to address these issues, so will civil construction."
Bullocks has 45 staff and is three businesses in one - a Bulls quarry that processes Rangitīkei aggregate, a concrete batching plant and a construction company that builds roads and water infrastructure and does subdivisions.