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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Teaching about sustainability and LEED in Florida

Have you ever really thought about the impact buildings have on our surroundings? Residential and commercial buildings account for 39 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. Millions of tons of construction-related waste ends up in landfills each year. And because buildings have long-life spans, decisions about how sustainable their construction and operational systems are have a profound impact on the environment. Making the right decisions is especially important when, over the next 20 years, more than three-quarters of America’s building stock will be renovated or built.

Educating students about sustainable construction and engineering is tantamount to a greener planet. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to teach an undergraduate-level green building class at Miami’s Florida International University with my Skanska colleague, Project Manager Vincent Collins.

The class’ focus was on how there can be – and should be – green aspects to every part of design and construction. Examples of this include how the building is oriented on a site, what systems and materials are selected, and how water and other resources might be conserved during construction itself. Vincent used a Skanska project, the City of Miami Gardens’ Municipal Complex, to illustrate the process of building to LEED Platinum standards.

One of the most important aspects of green building that the class touched on was the concept of lifecycle analysis. This means making decisions that not only consider the first cost of construction, but also the cost over years of the building in operation. After all, the expenses of lighting, heating, cooling and otherwise operating a building over decades typically adds up to more than it cost to build the facility itself! This also includes planning for ways to efficiently utilize a building even when new conditions arise later in its lifetime, and finding materials that can be easily recycled or re-used.

For the Municipal Complex, features designed to conserve resources to help lower future operating costs include water-saving elements such as rainwater harvesting and native landscaping, as well as such energy-saving solutions as daylighting, highly efficient mechanical systems and photovoltaics. In choosing to include these elements, we aim to push this project toward Deep Green.

Overall, the class was a huge success, a reflection of not only our team’s expertise, but also of the enthusiasm of the students. After the class, Professor Ali Mostafavi shared his student’s reactions and thanks via Twitter:

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For more information on Skanska’s approach to sustainability check out our Core Values, here.

This post was written by Jose Cortes, Skanska USA vice president – business development and Vincent Collins, Skanska USA project manager.

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Jose Cortes

posted by Jose Cortes

Skanska USA vice president, business development

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WELL Building: The next step in green sports construction

The WELL Building Standard is a new protocol that focuses on human wellness within the built environment. Administered by the International Well Building Institute (IWBI), it identifies specific conditions that when holistically integrated into building architecture and design, enhance the health and well-being of the occupants.  This first of its kind, protocol was developed by Delos in partnership with scientists, architects and thought leaders, and prescribes a series of technology enhancements and performance-based measures that are systemized across seven categories relevant to occupant health in the built environment – Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.

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WELL Building has been designed to complement green building standards and sit on top of existing platforms. Currently in pilot, the IWBI has partnered with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), to ensure that WELL Certification compliments and works seamlessly with LEED Certification. For example, air quality and lighting intersect both green and wellness, about 10 to 20 percent of WELL and LEED standards overlap as a result of this natural connection.

While we believe the WELL Building Standard should be considered for every building, we see a unique opportunity for them to be integrated into sports and recreation facilities, inspiring an operator to think holistically about how their facility interacts not only with the natural environment, but also with the athletes, sports fans and staff who will call their building home. In sports terms: it’s a win-win.

For owners the WELL Building Standard offers a twofold opportunity to deliver a competitive venue for their athletes — a facility that is optimized for their performance while also offering event attendees a healthier environment and a connection to well-being and athleticism.

For example, the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas implemented the Stay Well program for hospitality, an overlay program informed by the same evidence-based research as the WELL Building Standard. The MGM Grand saw such a strong return on their initial investment in implementing Stay Well rooms on their fourteenth floor- including high occupancy rates and a 25 percent increase in profitability – that they have quadrupled the number of Stay Well rooms and plan to expand to additional spaces.

Sports play an important role in American culture. We celebrate athleticism as a testament to the power of the human body. Stadiums, arenas and recreation centers are important gathering points for our communities, places where we come together to celebrate physical achievement. As such, these venues represent more than just spaces for sport. The buildings themselves speak loudly about who we are and what we believe in.

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At NRG Stadium in Houston, mechanical and electrical systems are managed via smartphone, increasing energy efficiency.

As an industry, we’ve taken major strides implementing green building techniques in sports and entertainment construction. At first, the industry focused on greening the building enclosure, by reducing energy consumption and implementing resource management. Then, sustainability spread to mechanical, and electrical building  systems that use Computer Maintenance Management  Systems to increase efficiency, improve occupant comfort, and can be managed remotely via smart phone technology similar to NRG Stadium in Houston. Another great example of this approach to green building can be seen at the LEED Gold certified Portland State University Academic & Student Recreation Center, where students help power the rec center’s electrical system, through a voltage converter attached to exercise machines  that delivers electricity back to the building.

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Portland State University Academic & Student Recreation Center earned LEED Gold certification through the use of natural lighting and ventilation in key areas as well as quality materials, proven systems, and other cutting edge environmental construction techniques.

Today, sports facilities are increasingly working to green the daily operations of their venues: from implementing more efficient waste management processes – like Gillette Stadium’s waste water treatment plant, to recycling and food service composting and using earth-friendly cleaning products. At MetLife Stadium, all waste kitchen oil is converted to biodiesel fuel; all kitchen scraps are composted, and all cardboard, plastic, glass, aluminum and paper is recycled. The push to green sports facilities has extended to event operations themselves – this year’s Super Bowl at MetLife was the greenest on record, diverting more waste, conserving more water and saving more energy than any previous event.

William S Moorhead Federal Building

MetLife Stadium, home to 2014’s Super Bowl, is one of the greenest sports venues in the U.S.

So, while we continue to push ourselves to find the best ways to build venues that reduce our impact on the earth and its resources, what can we do to make sure these buildings are contributing to the physical well-being of the people within them?

WELL Building is the future of green sports construction – an opportunity for building owners and operators to consider not only the environmental impacts of their facilities but the ways they impact athletes and fans alike.

To learn more about the WELL Building Standard and their impact on occupant health, visit the International Well Building Institute.

This post was written by Tom Tingle, Skanska USA senior vice president and national director, Sports Center of Excellence and Beth Heider, Skanska USA chief sustainability officer.

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Tom Tingle

posted by Tom Tingle

Skanska USA senior vice president and national director, Sports Center of Excellence

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Consider this road for much-needed highway funding

The roads, bridges and transit lines we rely on daily are such an important part of the U.S. economy, both for connecting us together as a country and for the thousands of jobs their construction and maintenance provides. Yet the Highway Trust Fund that pays a large portion of many road and transit projects nationally is on the verge of running out of money. While the Administration and Congress are discussing a short-term patch to this problem, what’s really needed is a long-term solution – and creative yet proven approaches should be a central part of that.

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If there’s one issue our divided federal government should be able to come together on, I would think it would be infrastructure. Of course, I’m biased in that view, as Skanska is a major infrastructure developer and builder. But here are three points to consider on this topic:

1)      It’s one thing to read in news reports that as many as 100,000 construction projects could be affected if the Trust Fund goes into the red as expected sometime in August, and with the U.S. government planning to slow highway payments to states before that. One impact of slowing payments will be on the men and women who are part of these projects. They’re working hard – even harder given the summer heat – to move these projects forward to provide important benefits to local communities. Congress owes it to these teams to work just as hard to find a funding solution.

2)      With our economy still recovering, construction workers are finally getting back to work. Some great news is that last month our industry had its best monthly jobless rate in nearly six years. I’d hate for anything to interrupt this progress.

3)      Should a lack of federal funding halt highway work, the public will likely pay for the associated added costs. Suppose a contractor receives a price estimate from a concrete supplier, and that quote is good for 30 days. If the 30 days comes and goes and a project team wasn’t able to sign that agreement because work was stopped and the new price is higher, that’s what our industry calls an impact or delay cost, and the contractor would ask their public client to cover that increase. Impact costs would also include charges for rental equipment that sits idle during a shutdown, and if there are added costs associated with bringing the project labor force back. So it’s definitely most economical to keep projects going once they’re started.

Here’s why the Highway Trust Fund is in such bad financial shape: it’s financed by the gas tax, which is set at 18.4 cents per gallon. That rate has not changed since 1993, and with the increasing fuel efficiency of cars and the rise of hybrids, both have eroded revenue flowing into the fund. Meanwhile, the price of a gallon of gas has increased from $1.097 to $3.692 in that time, and driving remains as popular as ever. Many people agree that a reasonable gas tax increase to stabilize the Fund would be an acceptable solution.

But whatever modest gas tax Congress might approve – and any tax increase at all would be a tough sell in today’s Congress – still likely won’t be enough to provide the additional $79 billion needed annually until 2028 to significantly improve the condition of our nation’s highways. To close the gap, an increasingly popular – and forward thinking – alternative is with public-private partnerships. With P3s, limited public money is leveraged with private investment to fast-track critical projects for which cost or time overruns are prohibited and for which the long-term costs to maintain that infrastructure falls to the private partners, not the taxpayers. These performance-based contracts have proven highly effective and valuable in dozens of countries, including Canada, Chile, France, Germany and the Nordics, and here in the U.S. 33 states have approved P3 approaches for transportation infrastructure. Congress providing administrative, regulatory and credit support to states to encourage use of P3s would unlock billions of dollars of private investment, accelerate or generate critical infrastructure projects across multiple sectors, increase employment and economic development, and deliver long-term, lifecycle efficiencies without burdening taxpayers with the full exposure and costs.

Overall, these next few months are critical for infrastructure. The country needs a meaningful plan for funding the Highway Trust Fund, one that relies upon appropriate fiscal sources that provide a long-term solution. Additionally, the infrastructure bill that allocates such funds will expire on September 30 and needs to be renewed, ideally for six years. With no question that infrastructure is needed for our country to grow and succeed, I urge you to contact your Senator and Representative and let them know that this issue is important to you, and that P3s should be part of the solution.

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Richard Aquino

posted by Richard Aquino

Skanska USA vice president of business development and marketing

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Learning and living the Injury-Free Environment mindset

Learning about and living Skanska’s Injury-Free Environment® culture has impacted my life in a number of ways. Prior to working with Skanska, my view on safety – which was primarily influenced by my previous employer – was to follow all rules and regulations in order to stay out of trouble. However, the moment I attended a four-hour IFE orientation as a Skanska employee, my entire view of safety changed drastically.

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Angelica Sepulveda, Skanska USA superintendent

IFE orientation began with a powerful statement from the group leader: “This is not a meeting about policies and procedures and how to follow them,” she said. “This is about how you and I relate to the critical subject of safety.” These words totally transformed the way I looked at safety, making it feel personal, relevant and important to me. IFE orientation gave safety meaning. I went from someone who felt forced to follow safety rules to someone who chose to follow safety rules because I understood the impact my choices could have on my life, the lives of my family members, my coworkers’ lives and the lives of their families. In my new found understanding of safety and adoption of the IFE culture I quickly realized the power that I had as a superintendent.

My education in IFE helped me build the confidence to lead. In 2008, I started with Skanska as an assistant superintendent. Not only was I an assistant superintendent, but in my eyes I was a 23-year-old female assistant superintendent who was lacking in field experience and entering an environment predominantly run by older, more experienced males. I was concerned that my differences and lack of experience would present a serious challenge for me in my new role.

But as I took part in further IFE training, I felt a boost in my self-esteem. I believe this training has played a key role in my success, now as a full superintendent. In adopting the IFE culture I made it a point to get to know the construction trade workers by name, asking them about their families, their hobbies and what they are passionate about. In choosing to develop relationships, I felt comfortable speaking up and I saw that they began doing the same. I learned how to correct negative behaviors and call out safety hazards in a positive way, which helped me earn their respect. Being able to step out of my shell, putting others before my selfish fears, and having the courage to develop personal relationships with my team has made a major impact in my life and my career.

But, while I embraced IFE as a leader on the jobsite, there was an important aspect of IFE that I neglected, which I later learned the hard way.

At Skanska we refer to IFE as, “The journey that takes you home,” but for me it was, “The journey that got me home, but didn’t apply at home.” In December 2010, I was driving to a family gathering and I felt irritated and sleepy. Due to my impatience and desire to be home, I tried to make an ill-advised U-turn. My vehicle was hit on the driver’s side by another car that was going approximately 50 m.p.h., pushing my vehicle back into a parking lot and the other vehicle into two lanes of oncoming traffic. I remember first checking to make sure my wife was okay, and then looking at the car that hit me and realizing it was a Caravan. I immediately thought the Caravan was occupied by a family with children (fortunately it was not, and the single driver was uninjured). The desperation and regret that I felt at that moment, I never want to feel again.

On that day I learned a valuable lesson. I realized that my impatience and lack of responsibility had put our lives and the lives of others in danger. Because of this accident, I learned that IFE cannot stop when you exit the jobsite, it carries into your personal life and becomes part of everything you do.

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posted by Angelica Sepulveda

Skanska USA superintendent

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View integrated project delivery through the lens of this George Washington University Hospital project

More and more, teamwork, trust and collaboration are seen as key to successful project delivery. Yet, few projects seek to maximize the meanings behind those words by making them central to how the project team is structured and functions. One approach that does so – integrated project delivery – binds major stakeholders through a mutual contract such that individual stakeholder success is tied to overall project success, with risk and reward both capped and shared.

While IPD is rare – in part because of the greater up-front effort required – the results are typically powerful, with better cost and schedule performances and a smoother delivery process. To help others learn how IPD might help their projects, we recently checked in with the stakeholder team behind the second true IPD project with which Skanska is involved, an intensive care unit renovation at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Here’s some of what this team recently had to share about this project, when on-site work was just getting underway.

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All in: Seven organizations signed the IPD agreement: Universal Health Services (owner); Skanska (construction manager); WJ Architects (architect of record); In.Design (interior designer); Southland Industries (mechanical design-builder); M.C. Dean (electrical design-builder); and Clark’s Lumber and Millwork (millwork trade partner.) With this arrangement, there are no separate contracts between the owner and the architect, construction managers and key trade contractors, and so on – every key firm is part of one contract to align all interests with that of the project.

Project finances in a new light: Owner Universal Health Services is accepting all risk for project cost and the overhead of the signatory partners, said Christian Pikel, UHS regional project manager. However, each partner’s profit is put at risk through a shared pool. Any savings from the target budget will be shared among participants, up to the profit pool cap.

Consensus-based objectives: Early in the project, team members and end users came together to define the project’s “conditions of satisfaction” – common team objectives. They crafted 10 of these statements, which include improving doctor, nurse and staff work flows within the sixth floor ICU; eliminating unanticipated noise from impacting adjacent spaces (the project is directly above an active intensive care unit); building a work environment in which all team participants demonstrate leadership roles and process improvement; and incorporate surge capacity within the project budget. The team has developed a spreadsheet containing all conditions, and at every meeting they go down the list and rate their recent performance for each, said Andy Rhodes, Southland design engineer/project manager.

A3 library: IPD’s team-based nature makes it ideal for incorporating the principles and tools of lean construction, which focuses on eliminating waste and continual improvement. Of this project’s lean aspects, A3s are being used not just a single-page way to identify, analyze and propose solutions for problems, but as a means of sharing that thinking across projects. “We were able to pull an A3 on a bariatric issue from another project,” said Aimee Fogarty, Skanska project manager. “By re-examining that document, we didn’t have to start from scratch.”

Better-informed design: This project’s designers are finding that IPD enables them to get the input they need to produce a more realistic design the first time. “It helps clarify expectations much sooner, instead of the typical process of doing value engineering later on in traditional models,” said Jenna Santamaria, In.Design senior designer. “I really get excited and enjoy when we have some healthy tension going on in the Big Room: we get to start horse trading back and forth and asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to make this work?’”

Trust in the Big Room: IPD requires more up-front participation from all parties, including significant time spent in regular in-person Big Room meetings in which all team participants work together on project issues. Such meetings require a different mindset. For example, everyone has equal status and say in all matters. To keep everyone focused, multitasking and sidebar conversations aren’t allowed. And trust is of paramount importance. “Each expert involved in the project must trust each other’s judgment because the success of the team determines the overall success of the project,” said Jennifer Macks, Skanska vice president. “Also, to make the most of the collaborative communication and problem-solving scenario, everyone must be comfortable with one another and share their expertise.”

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Urban resiliency: Learning from Berlin and Detroit

In my role leading Skanska’s West Cost commercial development operations, I’m always exploring for new ideas about how to best foster sustainable and vibrant urban life.  As a 2013 University of Washington Runstad Fellow, I had the opportunity to visit and explore civic resiliency in Berlin and Detroit, two former urban powerhouses that have seen ruin, and recently, creative and economic resurgence.

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Berlin’s Betahaus co-working space promotes the active sharing of ideas. Photo Credit: Lisa Picard.

What I and the other fellows learned from Berlin and Detroit is that the cities of the future will be co-created, meaning that the process of developing spaces and communities will – and must – be a collaborative effort between developers, residents and governments in an ongoing, open and lively conversation about the kinds of places we want to call home. They will need to be diverse to be successful, and contain spaces that encourage passers-by to pause, share ideas and make random connections. Back in Seattle, these lessons are helping my team and I shape the Emerald City’s urbanism, such as through our 400 Fairview project.

For an in-depth look at this topic, check out my article in the latest issue of Arcade magazine.

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Lisa Picard

posted by Lisa Picard

Skanska USA executive vice president

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“Don’t be afraid to follow your passion”: Advice for women from the Skanska Women’s Network

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The Skanska Women’s Network kicking off in California

At Skanska, we’re proud of our many female leaders across the U.S. To celebrate the launch of the California chapter of our growing Skanska Women’s Network – with chapters in New York and as of this week the Midwest too – we brought together two panels of Skanska women to share their thoughts on leadership and success. From leading with confidence to maintaining a work-life balance, here is some of their advice:

Tess da Silva, project executive: “Be prepared to highlight your great accomplishments and not your failures. Find your passion and don’t be afraid to follow it.”

Karen Dorsey, project manager: “Go outside your comfort zone. Be brave enough to make a mistake and learn from it. I look for genuine and credible people to follow, and I want people to see myself as that sort of leader too.”

Jeanne Gambill, senior project manager: “When you’re at home you need to be 100 percent present. Use home as your retreat –- it will make you more efficient at work.”

Beth Heider, chief sustainability officer: “Throw out the feeling – shared by a remarkable number of highly accomplished women – that you are a fraud and don’t deserve a leadership position. Cultivate confidence in yourself.”

Julie Hyson, business development director: “Don’t apologize for taking time out for yourself or your family.”

Courtney Lorenz, environmental management director: “It’s important for leaders to say, ‘I don’t know – but I’ll find out.’”

Jennifer McMullen, vice president – environment, health and safety: “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. In fact, make one every day and learn from it.”

Do you have advice for women in construction? Share your comments below or tweet your ideas to us: @SkanskaUSA.

 

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“You can build anything green”

At the Elizabeth River Tunnels project in Virginia, our SKW Constructors joint venture is inspired to build green by the beautiful river that’s the basis of our project, and how that waterway impacts our lives. Some of my colleagues fish in these waters, others enjoy different water-based activities, and we all enjoy the river views. So it’s important to us on a personal level to find environmentally friendly ways to build our project. And we’re honored that outside groups are starting to recognize our efforts.

You can build anything green, but our industry hasn’t prioritized sustainability on civil projects the way it has with buildings. For more than a decade, the U.S. Green Building Council has been advocating LEED to improve buildings’ environmental performance. Yet it’s only recently that the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system was introduced to provide a similar type of focus for civil projects. Still, with civil construction, if you dig a little bit, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to make a difference environmentally.

Midtown Tunnel, second tunnel construction. Portsmouth side.

Our joint venture’s Elizabeth River Tunnels project in Virginia has prioritized building green.

On this project, among the greener ways of working being utilized by the Skanska, Kiewit and Weeks Marine team is a self-contained, concrete chute wash-out system.  Following a concrete pour, these units allow concrete trucks to wash their chutes in a system that contains all the concrete waste and wash water. The units then filter the wash water, allowing it to be recycled and reused in the chute washing process. This system can save approximately $72,700 for every 100 pours. As another example of how going green often saves money, we’ve found that the environmentally friendly aerosol can puncturing system we’ve employed not only reduces the amount of hazardous waste shipped offsite, but also saves more than $30,000 for every 4,200 cans punctured. And rather than paying high fees to haul lead-contaminated soil offsite to dispose of it as hazardous waste, we’re safely remediating that soil onsite.

Just for fun, our team does team-building activities like planting wildlife gardens, celebrating Earth Day and participating annually in the Clean the Bay Day.

Last month, the SKW team was thrilled to learn that our above-and-beyond environmental approach enabled Elizabeth River Tunnels to become the first construction project approved for the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program. Even more significantly, we were approved at the highest level – Extraordinary Environmental Enterprise (E-4). The 14-year-old program drives environmental excellence through a partnership approach between the Commonwealth and private organizations. It’s based on ISO 14001 environmental management standards, to which Skanska is certified; ISO 14001 provides us with a roadmap to take all projects to a higher level of environmental conservation

Our team hopes that our legacy from this project only starts with improved transportation. We’re also building the local workforce, supporting local businesses, and we hope to leave the environment in better condition than it was when we got here.  And finally, we want our work at the Elizabeth River Tunnels project to set the standard as the first of many construction projects recognized by this environmental program.

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posted by Carissa Agnese

Skanska USA Environmental Manager

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