Overnight, our team erects a new bridge at Philadelphia’s airport



After six months of detailed planning and intense coordination, our Philadelphia International Airport team last month erected a 91,000-pound, 100-foot-long pre-assembled baggage conveyor bridge over the main airport departure road in less than eight hours. While this was a very complicated activity, our team got it done smoothly, and even four days ahead of the original schedule for this milestone event.

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To ensure that nothing would hamper the erection, our team had a variety of contingency plans in place. For example, while extensive surveys had been done to ensure that the anchor bolts on the bridge piers would match with the holes on the pre-assembled bridge, temperature changes and flexing caused by the lifting could have slightly varied the geometry. So before the lift, our team developed a procedure for field repairs that the structural engineer approved.

Also, this task done overnight at the airport required closing the departures road, but if an airport emergency occurred, emergency response vehicles might have needed to go beyond the construction area. So they built a temporary blacktop road for that use.

“This was truly a collaborative effort involving the airlines, Division of Aviation, airport operations, Philadelphia airport police, PennDOT, the construction manager, trade contractors, the design team and Inspectors,” said Brian Maguire, project director. “Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a tremendous success!”

This lift is part of a $44 million lump sum general contract we have with client US Airways. Our work also includes building a 35,000-square-foot bag-clam facility and 40,000 square feet of phased renovations to Terminal F and an adjacent connector.

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Introducing Constructive Thinking’s weekend edition

Welcome to Skanska Weekend Reading! The world of construction and development is constantly evolving: every week brings new ideas and concepts for how we can better deliver places and spaces that are more efficient, sustainable and engaging. Yet, in the rush of the workweek, it can be tough to find the time to digest all this information.

That’s where Weekend Reading comes in: this is designed to be our way of compiling and sharing the best stories and innovations we’ve discovered during the week. Think we’ve missed an important trend? Share it with us in the comments or tweet it to @SkanskaUSA. Happy reading!

As our latest Nemours project nears completion, looking back on what made this project special

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Of everything that we build, hospitals are special projects, and children’s hospitals are even more special.  This was the case at our Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children project in Wilmington, Del., which the hospital showcased this past week as it nears completion. Our team took their mission to build a second home for patients and their families to heart. On this campus, children could watch construction from their rooms, so our team made sure to include them: this included inviting kids to participating in our morning Stretch and Flex activity or signing Happy Birthday to them over a two-way radio. This project included two new patient-care towers connected by a five-story atrium, designed to be a welcoming and relaxing space for patients, their families and whole hospital community. To ensure an efficient and safe building process, our team used multi-trade prefabrication methods to construct the towers’ headwalls, bathroom pods, dividing walls and nurse stations. Read more in the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Learn to build safely, in any language

PegasusWhen your project includes building a 110-foot statue of the mythological Pegasus stallion fighting a fire-breathing dragon, you need to be prepared to tackle some unique building challenges. For our team at the Pegasus Park project in South Florida, one challenge including integrating a team of 38 craft workers from China into our Injury-Free Environment® culture. Since the craft workers didn’t speak English, it was up to the team to establish frameworks for safety that transcended the language barrier. Check out their story here.

LEEDing the way in energy efficiency
How has LEED increased energy efficiency in buildings over the last decade? GreenBiz offers a deep dive into 10 years of LEED that offers important insight into the way that improvements in LEED building standards have increased average design efficiency across the industry. LEED works – by motivating AEC professionals to design and build better buildings.

Is this the hardhat of the future?
Digital tools like iPads have had a huge impact on the way we do our jobs. Could the next transformation come in the form of a high-tech hard hat?  Business Insider reveals what could be the hardhat of the future – a “smart helmet” that provides “laptop computing power at a glance,” so you can access measurement apps, scheduling apps, maps, cameras, and more without having to use your hands!

Go behind-the-scenes on construction at Charleston’s Gaillard Center
The Gaillard Center is Charleston, S.C.’s center for art and music. Today, our team is in charge of building the city’s biggest construction project in a half-century: delivering an expanded and improved 250,000-square-foot Gaillard, featuring a new 1,800-seat performance hall.  The Charleston City Paper got a sneak preview of this building with its intricate limestone work and special acoustical considerations, as our team pushes forward on the project’s spring 2015 opening.

Prince Charles and Skanska team up to fight climate change
This Wednesday, the day after the United Nation’s Climate Summit in New York City, we’ll join the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group in urging government leaders to take concrete action to reduce carbon emissions. We’re excited and proud to be playing an important part of this effort that reflects our core value of sustainability. As part of this effort, we’re joining with the Prince’s organization and Track 0, an initiative driving action for zero emissions, to host a special event on what net zero could mean for cities at our flagship office in the Empire State Building. Said our Chief Sustainability Officer Beth Heider: “Climate change is a critical issue that is increasingly influencing major business decisions. By setting clear and binding energy efficiency targets, in the context of a coherent and ambitious overall climate change and energy security strategy, governments would send the right signal to businesses wanting to invest.”

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Finding a common language in safety

Our project sites’ increasing diversity is providing a great need – and a great opportunity – to develop effective ways of communicating with workers speaking limited or no English. Bridging any language divide is particularly critical regarding safety.

Our Pegasus Park project team in South Florida faced both of these challenges, as 38 craft workers came from China to assemble the project’s centerpiece: a 110-foot-tall statue of the mythological Pegasus stallion fighting a fire-breathing dragon. Those workers – there to perform specialized work – only spoke Chinese.

Given those circumstances, how did our team develop a strong project safety culture, and what was most helpful to the Chinese workers regarding that? Below, we hear from Analyn Nunez, Skanska’s environment, health and safety coordinator who is responsible for day-to-day safety leadership on the project site. Following that, Wei Ensheng, a project manager with trade contractor Yuda, shares his thoughts on the project’s safety culture through Li Yang, a translator.

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This team worked safely despite language differences (from left): Li Yang (translator), Analyn Nunez (Skanska EHS coordinator), Wei Ensheng (Yuda project manager) and Chai Weibin (translator).

Skanska’s Analyn Nunez

What has been key to ensuring safety on this project? 

Communication is most important. So that the Chinese workers complied with all safety requirements, we found it was crucial to have at least two translators on the job site every day. But just having translators isn’t enough. Instead, we have worked to build positive relationships with the translators – they’ve become part of my safety team. Numerous times I’ve walked the site with them to train them and show them what I look for on my inspections. By seeing me doing safety walks with the translators, it’s clear to the Chinese workers that safety is Skanska’s top priority. Also, the translators have been amazing at assisting in all new worker orientations, as well as with various safety trainings.

How do you keep the project’s native Chinese speakers engaged on safety?

Stretch and Flex has become a key time to communicate with the Chinese employees. After these pre-work morning group exercises, I always – with the help of the translators – talk to the whole crew to share with them any safety issues that I might have observed or any safety topics that need to be addressed. Additionally, l continually walk the jobsite each day, and for those I make sure at least one of the translators is present in case we need to address any safety issues.

Being bilingual with English and Spanish helps me interact with different cultures and languages. On previous jobs, I’ve found that when safety forms are in workers’ native language, communication increases between the crews and Skanska as construction manager. What I mean by this is that if a translator fills out the pre-task plan, often the rest of the crew isn’t involved – that’s not good, as with work conditions changing every day, everyone’s input is needed. At Pegasus Park, we had all the safety forms translated to Chinese and Spanish to get all trade workers involved. Beyond increased understanding of what we’re asking the teams to do, this helps create conversations between the crews.

How do you make sure native Chinese speakers feel like they can share their safety concerns effectively?

I have tried to establish personal relationships with the workers, and I have taken the time to learn such simple Chinese words as those for hi, thank you, great job and safety – although the workers need to remind me of the correct pronunciations every day! But by doing this, I have opened a channel of communication: If they see me walking on the site, they will smile at me and start pointing at all their safety equipment, showing me that they are in compliance. At the same time, when I have a safety concern and there is no translator around, by using hand signals and pictures on my iPhone I try to explain what’s wrong and how to fix it. Trust me, communicating this way is not easy, but I can manage to get my point across.

Most importantly, by making an effort to get to know the workers, they know if they have a safety concern, all they have to do is go get the translator and find me. We have spent numerous times creating pre-task plans together, translating all safety forms and planning their work with other trade contractors.

Anything else you would like to share about this effort?

The Chinese employees on the Pegasus jobsite are role models. They have taken to heart the Skanska Injury-Free Environment® culture, especially how everyone on site needs to look out for each other. Even though the Chinese can’t directly speak with the other crews – those speaking English, German and Spanish – you’ll see the Chinese smiling and opening lines of communication by using their smart phones. They’ll speak into the phone, and the translate app will convert their words to English or another language. It’s amazing: They have figured out not only how to communicate, but also how to become part of the team.

Walking around the site, it’s great to see people of such different cultures laughing and working together! That, to me, is very satisfying, because at the end of the day the IFE culture is making sure all workers go home safely at the end of the day. And I can assure you the relationships that have been built on the Pegasus Park project will make this happen: We have each other’s back.

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Chinese team members plan to continue doing Stretch and Flex when they return to China.

Yuda’s Wei Ensheng

How is safety generally viewed on commercial construction sites in China?

In China, while people pay a lot of attention to safety issues, enforcement is a lot less strict than here in America. There aren’t full-time safety specialists walking around.

Also in China, safety equipment generally includes hard hats, gloves, harnesses, steel-toe boots and glasses. But there, safety glasses typically aren’t worn all the time, and certainly not under welding helmets and face shields as we have to do here at Pegasus Park. And the harnesses are usually fixed lanyards, like ropes: unlike in the U.S., retractable lines that absorb impacts aren’t used.

Also, scaffolding is safer and of better quality in the U.S. Scaffolds in China are sometimes made out of bamboo planks and steel pipes, and they don’t have to be fully planked to work on as they are here.

Did you find it helpful to have the pre-task plan and other forms translated into Chinese?

That was very helpful. It helps us communicate with each other before starting work and helps us plan better.

What was your first impression of Stretch and Flex?

It was a little weird at the beginning. Now, we’re used to it. In China, we only clean the site before starting work for the day.

Are there any safety practices from Pegasus Park that you hope to continue using back in China?

I want to apply your standards for working in confined spaces. In China, there are no strict requirements for ventilation in closed spaces. It’s mostly that if a worker going inside a confined space feels that something is wrong, then a fan is installed. But there are not air quality monitors like here in the U.S.

Also, I will emphasize safety requirements during pre-task planning as you do here. In China, we do pre-task planning but it focuses on carrying out the work to be done.

And Stretch and Flex is very impressive. I will do this back in China.

Are there any Chinese approaches to safety that could benefit us here in the U.S.?

There’s some good to be had in how China is more flexible regarding safety. For example, when we got here we were required to wear a Tyvek body suit while applying patina chemicals to the statue’s bronze exterior. That caused us to sweat all the time, making it hard for us to do our job. We were grateful that Skanska was open to further studying this risk, and we ended up being able to wear our thinner welding jackets instead.

 

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What you missed from the Build America Infrastructure Investment Summit

American infrastructure is in great need of investment, and it will take strong political leadership to make meaningful improvements. As one step toward that larger goal, it was great that the Obama Administration on October 9 hosted the Infrastructure Investment Summit to rally support for the Build America Investment Initiative, a government-wide effort launched in July to advance the U.S. market for public-private partnerships. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of the Department of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew were among those who spoke at this D.C. event to an audience that included leaders from state and local governments and businesses, including Skanska.

While this entire event was great, our favorite part was directly related to Skanska’s latest P3, the I-4 Ultimate project for which our I-4 Mobility Partners team is providing finance, design, construction, operations and maintenance services to reconstruct and widen 21 miles of Interstate 4 through Orlando, Fla. Before the crowd, Foxx announced a $950 million Transportation Department loan to help pay for this project. This is the largest loan that the U.S. DOT has awarded to a public-private partnership, and is a significant step forward for P3s in America.

In case you missed this event, below is the conversation about it from social media.

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Keeping the “ring of risk” in the middle

Brad Pollitt has dedicated his career to healthcare design and construction, having since 1989 overseen University of Florida Health/Shands’ more than six million square feet of facilities. With planning underway for Skanska’s second hospital for UF Health/Shands – the $225 million expansion for their hospital’s cardiovascular/neuroscience programs – we talked with Pollitt about succeeding through integrated teams and the future of healthcare project delivery.

Brad Pollitt, vice president of facilities University of Florida Health/Shands – Gainesville, Fla.
Brad Pollitt, vice president of facilities
University of Florida Health/Shands – Gainesville, Fla.

How do you select project partners?

I take great care in interviewing the people that want to work with us. I want not just a corporate commitment, but a personal commitment too. We hire people, not companies.

What’s something you do to bring project teams together?

Construction projects have what I call the ring of risk. The ring starts out in the center of the table, with everybody generally knowing how much risk they have to own. But traditional construction delivery is antagonistic, and soon everybody is pushing on the ring to try and keep it away from them. If everyone pushes equally, the ring stays in the middle and everyone knows where they are. But not all companies and not all people are equal, so the ring eventually begins to slide. And then you see adverse and unexpected behaviors as people do what they can to get it back in the middle. You end up with the ring moving all over, causing uncertainty in a project and putting someone in a losing situation.

On the UF Health/Shands Cancer Hospital that was completed in 2009 with Skanska, the overall project team decided that if for some reason the ring of risk started to shift, everyone would work together to put it back in the middle of the table. I’d see this in action over and over again: one of the assistant superintendents would work with the engineer or the architect to help solve a problem. If money was involved, we as the owner would pitch in too. We all worked together to maintain the project’s schedule, its quality and its ultimate success.

What do you predict about the future of delivering healthcare facilities?

With capital becoming less available to healthcare providers, we have to get smarter about delivering facilities. Every hospital out there is a one-off with a unique design. And while we’re prefabricating select areas of projects – such as headwalls, bathrooms and overhead MEP system racks – those are still unique designs. The next step is having a selection of maybe five patient bathroom types from which hospitals nationwide can choose. Maybe we can do the same thing for operating rooms too. Creativity is good to a point, but efficiency is becoming more important to healthcare providers.

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Industry-standard designs for operating rooms and patient bathrooms should help increase the efficiency of healthcare facility delivery, Pollitt said.

What’s something that design and construction professionals may not realize about those wearing the owner’s hat?

For the outside people we hire to work on a project, their day job is designing or constructing buildings. For the medical professionals or physical plant staff or even the executives who support these projects from the owner’s side, they’re doing so in addition to their full-time jobs – whether that’s caring for patients or operating buildings or so on. While our people may know a lot about open-heart surgeries, for example, they don’t know a lot about constructing buildings. All they know is their hospital is about to spend a lot of money on a project, and with so much money on the line, they need to trust you.

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Unlikely partners in green building

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News broke yesterday that the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Chemistry Council will be working together to improve LEED, the foremost green building certification system. That’s a partnership that personally matters a lot to me.

Creating buildings that have minimal environmental impacts – and that even seek to improve the health of those living and working inside – requires more than just inspired clients, designers and builders. Doing so also requires manufacturers that are committed to producing harm-free building materials.

But as you may recall, for too long the chemistry council had been working against LEED, believing that material transparency requirements in the recent LEED version 4 might result in fewer chemicals used in buildings. Last year, a group affiliated with the ACC – and supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – proposed language that would effectively ban the use of LEED in federal buildings, unless certain chemical-related LEED provisions were removed.

What a difference a year makes. In this new partnership, LEED will benefit from the materials expertise of ACC and its member companies. We believe this has the potential to be transformational. And it’s much more than we hoped for last year, when Skanska publicly pulled out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest its support of the chemistry council’s activities.

That powerful chemical companies with their sizeable research and development budgets are working for LEED, rather than against, is tremendous. When companies like those get behind green, it should really propel green building materials forward – and help others see that doing what’s good for a sustainable future is generally good business.

The USGBC refers to LEED as a big tent in which all are welcome. There’s no better example of that than this partnership.

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Michael McNally

posted by Michael McNally

President and CEO, Skanska USA

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This Calatrava masterpiece comes to life – exactly as envisioned

This Saturday, Florida’s first STEM-focused college, Florida Polytechnic University, will mark its formal opening and the beginning of the 2015 school year. The Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building that is the centerpiece of the campus was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and built by Skanska, as part of a collaborative team of numerous design and construction partners.

You might be impressed by the project’s facts: this 160,000-square-foot structure was completed on-time and within the strict $60 million budget. This was accomplished despite such immense challenges as 90 percent of the structure being on a radius and having to find a way to build never-done-before louver arms that rise up to 12 stories above grade, and then hydraulically lower – all to ensure the optimum amount of daylight enters the building. And importantly,  there were no lost-time injuries over the four years of work,  thanks to each team member staying highly engaged.

But what made this project really special was the intense trust developed between the designers and our construction team, how every craft worker understood they were creating a structure of which they could be forever proud, and how through our team’s hard work to truly understand Calatrava’s intent for the project so they could convey that to our trade partners, the IST building has been delivered exactly in line with Calatrava’s original vision. It’s rare that that happens, even more so on a project like this.

“Completing this project makes my team and I feel extremely happy and at the same time somewhat sad,” said Chuck Jablon, the Skanska vice president who has overseen this project from the beginning. “This Skanska team wishes it would never end. We felt challenged every day and each day brought our team closer together, as everyone had different skill sets that we all relied on to overcome the greatest of opportunities. I am most proud of each and every one of my Skanska team members and look forward to see how they continue with the knowledge and experience gained on this magical modern marvel of the 21st century.”

So before the crowds arrive for tomorrow’s celebration, we invite you to explore this building.

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The butterfly-like aluminum louver arms are raised to let in the evening sun. Of the design, Jablon said, “You can’t tell me that this design hasn’t captured you. Calatrava captures your curiosity on the drawings alone. Then, when you start building it and you see it evolve, he gets your heart. And when the building is far enough along so you can see the full design realized, he’s damn sure captured your soul.” (Credit for all photos: Macbeth Photography)

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Construction was a collaborative process, in which Skanska focused on engaging all the stakeholders in the construction and design process from beginning to end. As Scott Judy of ENR writes, we worked to “break down traditional silos of silence between the design and construction team.”

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Inside, the roof’s exposed underbelly reveals concrete rakers that converge at an apex containing a skylight. A grand staircase takes center stage. Throughout the building, the concrete is clean and crisp – which required tremendous attention to detail and concrete craftsmanship from our team.

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The complex rooftop system is supported by a concrete ring beam – 72 inches deep and 30 inches wide – that encircles the interior of the second floor’s grand common area. On the building’s radii, each column rotates on another angle. This building has about 300 radius points, with an incredible 90 percent of everything done on a radius. As Jablon said, “You see the radius – do you feel it?”

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Calatrava designed the building to inspire students with a sense of optimism: “My first aim is to make an inspirational environment for the students and the professors and everyone working here.”

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Executing this design required forging a sincere bond between Skanska and Calatrava’s team. “This has been one of the best relationships I’ve had professionally with a contractor,” said Frank Lorino, chief architect of Calatrava’s New York office. “It hasn’t been without disagreement, but we know we’re both working for the same goal – the highest quality of project possible for the means that we have.”

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The building’s exterior is wrapped by a pergola of lightweight aluminum trellis that covers walkways and gathering spaces. In addition to being visually stunning, the pergola also helps the building function efficiently, reducing the structure’s solar load by 30 percent.

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The building’s amphitheater showcases the team’s craftsmanship. So much of the building’s detail is understated: from the rotation of the columns, to the quality of the concrete pours and the challenging patterns cut into the floors. As students embark on their STEM education, they’ll appreciate the work that went into achieving these features even more.

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Jablon and the Skanska team relished the building process. “I wanted to do it,” he said. “If you’re a builder, this is what you dream about doing in your career. It’s an opportunity to take your experience and your knowledge and gather people you’ve worked with throughout your career and say, ‘Friends, we’ve got one. We’ve got what we’ve been dreaming about our whole career.’ That’s what it is about.”

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Sustainability as a core value: Why Skanska is a finalist for USGBC’s inaugural Best of Building Awards

At Skanska, we’re proud of our commitment to sustainability. It’s one of our core values, and because of this, we not only build environmentally-friendly buildings but do so while practicing sustainability at the highest levels: from mitigating our environmental impacts, to being an ethical and fair employer, to working with small- and minority-owned businesses, and otherwise actively engaging with our communities. Sustainability is so important to us that all parts of Skanska USA meet the stringent standards of ISO 14001, an internationally-recognized environmental management standard.

As a result of this sustainability mindset, we’re honored to be a finalist in the U.S. Green Building Council’s inaugural Best of Building Awards in the “Best Contractor/Builder – Large” category. Nominees and winners are selected by employees of USGBC member companies registered on USGBC.org. That’s where you may come in. If you’re a USGBC member, please consider voting for Skanska by visiting http://www.usgbc.org/best-of-building.

Here are just a few reasons why we hope you will vote for us:

Because we create some of the greenest buildings around

Bertshi School - World's Fourth Living Building

Inside Seattle’s Bertschi School, the world’s fourth Living Building.

From building America’s first LEED Gold hospital (Providence Newberg Medical Center in Newberg, Ore.) and first LEED-certified airline terminal (Terminal A at Boston Logan International Airport) to the world’s fourth (and West Coast’s first) Living Building (the Bertschi School Science Classroom addition), we’re at the forefront of green building and design. Even more, we strive to push the boundaries of green in our own company offices and development projects, for which we have more control over the outcomes. Take our 129,000-square-foot Stone34 LEED Platinum-targeted development (Brooks Sports’ new headquarters) for which we designed the building to reduce water and energy use by 75 percent of comparable buildings. In Houston, our 750,000-square-foot Capitol Tower office development has been pre-certified as Platinum under LEED v4’s beta program. We live green building in our Empire State Building flagship office too, where we proved that environmentally responsible renovation is possible even 330 feet up in a 75-year-old skyscraper.

Because we believe you can build anything green

Our concrete chute wash-out system at Elizabeth River Tunnels works to capture, retain and re-use water.

Our concrete chute wash-out system at Elizabeth River Tunnels in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va. works to capture, retain and re-use water.

Our joint venture’s Elizabeth River Tunnels project demonstrates our commitment to prioritizing sustainable outcomes when building infrastructure. This is something that more and more infrastructure clients are seeking, and the benefits through resource and money savings are clear. For example, our ERT team used a concrete chute wash-out system that allowed for the recycling of wash water in the chute washing process – it saved approximately $72,700 for every 100 pours while reducing potable water usage. In May, ERT became the first construction project approved for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Environmental Excellence Program, and it was approved at the highest level – Extraordinary Environmental Enterprise. We continue to look for new ways to apply green standards to our work. For instance, we applaud the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure for putting together a meaningful standard for civil projects with their Envision program. Two of our projects are already using Envision, which we see as raising the bar of green construction with infrastructure.

Because we stand up for what’s right

When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year backed a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of LEED for federal buildings, we resigned our membership in the Chamber. We refused to be a part of an organization that opposes the stronger LEED v4 standard. LEED v4 encourages transparency in reporting the chemical composition of building materials, something we think is essential for anyone wanting to build responsibly.

As an industry, we’re taking major strides implementing green building techniques. Because Skanska is looking to expand our efforts even further, we’re exploring new ways to incorporate the WELL Building Standard – a new protocol that focuses on human wellness within the built environment – into future projects.

Because we’re committed to getting better

3009 Post Oak Boulevard

Houston’s 3009 Post Oak Boulevard, among the projects for which we’ve been tracking carbon emissions.

At Skanska, we want to understand how every facet of the design and building process impacts the Earth and how that facility will perform over its lifecycle. Research plays an important part in this process. Recently, we’ve partnered with the World Green Building Council on a major global research effort to establish common ways of measuring health and productivity benefits arising from green buildings, and to provide best practice guidance on the types of green building features – such as increased daylighting and ventilation – that enhance them.

We’ve also worked with the New Buildings Institute and the International Living Future Institute to help the District of Columbia’s Department of Environment investigate the costs associated with upgrading existing buildings from LEED. We conceptually transformed three LEED v3 Platinum-designed buildings in the District to net zero energy, net zero water and Living Buildings. Our findings are published in: Net Zero and Living Building Challenge Financial Study: A Cost Comparison Report for Buildings in the District of Columbia.

On our commercial development projects, for which we control both the design and construction of the buildings, we require our teams to implement a new sustainable feature or strategy that has not been tried before. For example, we worked in partnership with the University of Houston to track carbon emissions at 3009 Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, which helped us understand the need for more carbon-efficient concrete mixes.

Though sustainable building practices have been an integral part of Skanska’s business for years, we’re seeking to expand beyond standard measurements of green building and pursue a holistic approach to sustainability within construction and development. With each project, Skanska aims to meet the needs of the world today without jeopardizing the needs of the world tomorrow.

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Decades with Skanska: Some of our longest-serving colleagues share their stories

It used to be common for employees to stay at a job for twenty years or more. Today, the average length in one job is 4.4 years, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now consider that at Skanska, we have numerous employees who have stayed with the company nearly ten times the average – spending four decades with our organization. Here are some of their stories:

Making the most of an opportunity
Jack Carter, Superintendent, Virginia Beach

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Jack Carter

After graduating from the University of Florida in 1974, Jack Carter took a systematic approach to finding a job. He headed to Norfolk, Va., where he used the phone book to check in with the construction companies listed alphabetically. When Carter finally arrived at Tidewater Construction (which Skanska acquired in 1998) they were just letting an engineer go, creating an opening for him.

“I told the vice president that I had little experience and nothing to unlearn, but I could do work the Tidewater way,” Carter said. “He hired me – I got lucky.”

Carter went to work on projects ranging from paper mills to bridges to power plants, in places from Minnesota to Miami. He moved his young family nine times in the first nine years, until his son reached first grade. Now, he’s at home in the Norfolk area as a superintendent on the project of a lifetime – the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels project.

He laments that construction has become somewhat bogged down, with so many emails and forms now needed to get things done. Years ago, he said, “I told you what I was going to do and then I did it, and you’d trust me to do that.” But safety is much improved, he notes: “Four people have not gone home from work in my career, and I share with the crews all the time how much better it is now with all the safety gear we have to keep ourselves safe – be sure to use it!”

He credits the mentorship of company leaders with helping him advance in his career, and says his favorite part of the job is mentoring today’s young engineers. “They are smart, eager to learn, and they share all the new technology with me so I can stay current,” Carter said.

He looks back on his Skanska careers with no regrets. “I wouldn’t want to change any of it.”

Teaching another generation
Tom Maxwell, Project executive, New York City

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Tom Maxwell

In his 42 years to date with Skanska, Tom Maxwell has built subways, power plants, tunnels and foundations from Boston to Atlanta. He has been part of reconstructing the World Trade Center after the 1993 attack and creating New York’s Second Avenue Subway.

Maxwell is able to guide such projects in part because of the Skanska mentors he’s had over the years: they were eager to teach young engineers how to build challenging infrastructure projects. Now, Maxwell hopes that the lessons he has to share will prove to be at least as valuable to his mentees.

He sets high expectations for his engineers. Book smarts don’t cut it on his team – you need to know how to build. When young engineers know about all the items of work – mechanical, electrical, structural and so on – that it takes to build a house, that’s when an engineer is truly ready to work for Maxwell.

“A trade worker only has to know the rules of his union – we at Skanska have to know the rules of all the unions,” Maxwell said. “A plumber only has to know about plumbing parts – we have to know the skills of all of the trades. These young engineers have to be the whole package. They have to know everything to be a superintendent running a jobsite.”

Focused on Boston Mike Donovan, Purchasing director, Boston

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Mike Donovan

There are two ways that Mike Donovan explores the buildings that Skanska constructs in Boston. The first is with the half-size set of drawings that he colors to help understand the designers’ intents. The second is with his Canon camera, which he uses on his regular jobsite visits.

He takes the photos not only to record how Skanska is transforming the skyline, but also to see and preserve how each building is assembled to help him develop better bid packages. Building technologies and techniques are always improving – greater use of high-strength concrete, chilled beams, rain screen assemblies and destination dispatch elevators are just some of the recent advances – so he needs to capture them.

For his entire 40 years with Skanska, he’s been photographing our projects, and his collection fills some 30 photo albums and numerous gigabytes of storage. Without a doubt, Donovan is Skanska’s unofficial Boston historian. Teams come to him when they want to know such details as how a wall was assembled on a previous project.

“My wife tells me, ‘Maybe when you retire you can do talks on how Boston has changed over the last 40 years,’” Donovan said.

But such talks will have to wait, as retirement isn’t on Donovan’s radar. Having been in purchasing for more than 25 years, he’s too busy sharing his love of this side of the business, both in helping project teams buy out their projects and by being a Skanska instructor on subcontracts, purchasing and ethics.

“I’ve found that I succeed when the people around me are successful,” he said.

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Celebrating four decades – or more – with Skanska

In today’s mobile society, it can seem only natural to change employers every few years. So Skanska is fortunate to not only have many long-time employees, but to have numerous colleagues who have spent decades working for us. This week we will be celebrating and sharing the stories of a few of our colleagues who have dedicated their time and talent to Skanska for at least forty years.

All in the family
Jeff Barber, Senior superintendent, Seattle

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Jeff Barber

Jeff Barber represents three generations of Skanska service: his father, Don, spent 33 years with Skanska (beginning when it was still Baugh Construction) before retiring in 2000. Barber’s son, Scott, spent 17 years with Skanska before leaving our organization last year when he was a field superintendent to start his own business.

As for Barber, he’s busy running projects at Sea-Tac Airport and for Boeing, while adding new service stickers to his hard hat. He’s had to get a bit creative with those decals: Skanska doesn’t have service stickers above 40 years, so he uses two stickers: one for “40” and another for “3.”

Barber’s construction career began when he worked under his father as a laborer on a Nordstrom addition in Tacoma. He’s stayed with Skanska and construction for his entire career – he’s worked on about 70 projects – because he’s excited by the challenges of the projects he builds, and energized by the colleagues with whom he gets to work.

“Bob Baugh set the tone of treating people fairly, building them up and giving them challenges,” Barber said, referring to one of Baugh Construction’s founders. That approach continues today, he added, pointing out that several of our Seattle superintendents have also been with Skanska their entire careers.

When Barber finally decides to retire his Skanska hard hat, what he’ll miss the most is “all the great people in this company.” When you’re retired, he said, it’s hard to stay in touch.

“Everybody says, ‘Just give me a call’ – I’ve heard that over the years. But the people retiring don’t really do that,” Barber said. “You don’t want to impose on those who are running jobs – they’re busy.”

But in reality, maybe that’s a connection people on both ends of that call would appreciate.

Championing collaboration
Richard Redmon, Vice president of operations, Tampa

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 Richard Redmon, center, with on the left Fred Hames, executive vice president, and Bill Flemming, Skanska USA Building president and CEO

Looking back over his 51 years with Skanska, Richard Redmon said his most satisfying projects have been those with a high level of cooperation amongst the owner, designer, trade contractors and Skanska. That has happened most completely on two of his projects: a major expansion of Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Virginia, and Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida.

“If you can end all projects with everybody in a good mood because they’re proud of what they did, with a building that’s going to function well and with an owner who can’t wait to move in – that’s the kind of outcome I like,” Redmon explained.

More than just good feelings, such happy conclusions – which he said start with proactively offering to assist in addressing project challenges – mean good business. For instance, Roanoke Memorial Hospital – now part of Carilion Clinic – was so pleased with the project’s results that they went on to award Skanska about a billion dollars in other projects, he said.

Originally from Atlanta, Redmon worked in Atlanta, Nashville and Virginia before moving to Florida in 1994 to help Skanska establish its building construction presence there. Wherever he was, he has focused on building healthcare and office projects. The demand for those building types has always balanced out in a nice way: when one of those sectors would slow down, the other would pick up.

Yet for all his construction knowledge and experience, making far-reaching industry predictions isn’t Redmon’s style.

“Who knows what the future is going to bring?” he said. “We just hope it’s going to need buildings.”

 

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