Lean Construction: The Road to Operational Excellence

This week marks the 19th LCI Congress, an annual conference with an overarching goal of transforming the Built Environment through Lean implementation. Skanska is a founding member of the Lean Construction Institute and applies Lean approaches in many construction sectors focused on helping clients realize their vision. To learn more, click HERE.

Lean Management is a key component of our journey to Operational Excellence.  Lean management enables our projects and our people to work more efficiently. It is empowering our people to lead change and to work collaboratively to make our work better and deliver higher quality projects, and it is teaching us to evaluate traditional ways of doing things and identify waste that can be eliminated from those processes.  The result is cost-effective projects, reliable schedules and a team-oriented work environment.

One of the ways we have been successful in implementing Lean construction practices is by empowering our people to always look for ways to be better. When we talk about empowering our people at Skanska, we mean that we give them confidence in knowing they have a voice. By giving each person and team a voice and holding them accountable to make decisions, they become invested in the outcome and take ownership of the processes and their decisions. That also fosters an environment in which we are able to be more nimble, innovative and quick to adjust to changing conditions demanded by our clients.

We use several tools to facilitate and empower our teams:

Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIWs) – Facilitation of workshops designed to dramatically reduce the waste in a process with immediate implementation.

Lean Committees – These committees help champion Lean implementation efforts in local offices.

5S – An organizational tool that fosters teamwork and efficiency.

Pull Scheduling – Collaborative planning process done by people that have their hands on the work on a daily basis.

Kaizen Events – Small team workshops designed to create incremental improvements within existing processes.

Our Lean culture, along with the implementation of these tools, benefits our projects, our people and our clients in many ways, three of which are as follows:

Efficient and safe jobsites

Through jobsite organizational improvements, reduced material inventory on the jobsite, reduced travel time, and less labor intensive ways of working our jobsites are more productive and support a safer work environment.

Significant reduction in waste

Waste is prevalent in the construction industry and can come in many shapes and forms such as waiting time, over processing, over production, extra inventory, wasted motion, and defects.  By using Lean principles we can not only identify these wastes, but we can reduce or eliminate them as well.

A few years ago, one of our offices looked at the work that went into a project startup. Based on legacy procedures, the method being used took a few weeks to move things from contract signing to work in the field. Through a Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW), the team was able to identify inefficiencies and address them, bringing the new process for startup to less than a week.

Jobs are completed more collaboratively

As a result of collaborative planning efforts, such as pull scheduling, processes such as design, preconstruction and the construction process itself are planned and executed by the resources that are closest to the work.  This leads to a more efficient plan that is fully bought into by the people that execute the plan.  Not only does this make the work more efficient, but it makes the schedule more reliable and eliminates the waste that often occurs at handoff points in the work.  This provides more cost-effective projects with reliable schedules for our clients.

At Skanska, Lean is viewed as part of our culture. Skanska’s implementation of Lean management has allowed us to deliver high-quality projects for our clients more efficiently and with reduced waste. Our executive leadership chartered a National Lean Committee to grow our Lean culture. Respect for people is a big component of this – it’s about valuing the knowledge, experience and ideas colleagues have to contribute. Respect also extends beyond Skanska’s borders into everything we touch – our customers, our trade partners, and our communities. Everyone is responsible and looked at to do their best and accountable to achieve results.

Lean construction is a journey, and we’re proud of the direction we’re headed in.

Our team at the recent LCI conference. Left to right: Amy Jones, Alex Abate, Michael Zeppieri, Rob Penney, Kyle Krueger, Matt Hadfield, Jeff Payne, Eric Martin

Amy Jones

Amy Jones

Amy Jones is the Manager of Performance Improvement for Skanska USA and Vice-Chair of the National Lean Committee

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Fall Safety Tips

Today marks the official end to the summer. As we say goodbye to the warm months of the summer season and welcome to the cooler fall weather, it’s important to keep a few safety tips in mind.

At Skanska, we have an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) team that uses a series of standard policies and procedures to help keep people safe. The same thinking used on our project sites can apply to keeping safe in almost any aspect of life.

Below are some safety tips and reminders to ensure your family can enjoy the crisp autumn weather, while avoiding some of the dangers that come with the season.

Fall Safety Tips:

Get your flu shot – Autumn is the start of flu season, and its recommended that everyone six months and older gets vaccinated.

Fire safety – When the weather turns cold, most people spend more time inside their homes using fireplaces, furnaces and heaters to keep warm. Before the cold weather sets in, be sure to call your heating and cooling company to service your furnace. A specialist should inspect the furnace to make sure everything is in working order.

Be aware of poor visibility while driving – Falling leaves can obscure vision on roadways, as can rain and fog. Be aware of limitations in your visibility, and slow down if you can’t see well.

Watch for children playing close to the street – Children love to play in piles of leaves, so use extra caution when leaves are piled at curbsides. In addition, school buses will be making their rounds now that school is back in session so drive with care in your local neighborhoods.

Slow down on wet pavement – In many areas of the country, rain is common during the fall. If it’s raining, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Wet roads make it more difficult to stop.

Be prepared for bright sunlight – When sunrise occurs later in the morning, it can also present challenges for drivers. Having a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle to wear when the sun is bright is a good strategy.

Watch out for ice – As the temperatures drop further at night, you may need to spend some extra time in the morning scraping frost off your vehicle. Shady spots on the roadway may be home to black ice, which a driver may not be aware of until his or her car starts to skid on it.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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How I-4 Received Envision® Platinum and What It Means for Future Infrastructure Projects

Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published a report giving the U.S. a D+ grade for infrastructure conditions and performance. The report, published every four years, gained a lot of attention, with stories about the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure constantly making headline news across the U.S. From bridges and tunnels, to transit, rail and airports, improvements are needed to ensure that the U.S. is built for the future.

Here are some staggering statistics from ASCE:

– Of the 614,387 bridges in the U.S., 9.1% (or 56,007) are deemed structurally deficient.

– One out of every five miles of America’s major highways are in poor condition and in need of extensive rehabilitation. As a result, congestion and traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel.

– 24 of the top 30 major airports may soon experience “Thanksgiving-peak traffic volume” at least one day every week.

An example of a roadway in need of major improvements and a complete overhaul is Interstate 4 (I-4) in Florida – and it is getting help via an important civil infrastructure effort in the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project. The project is using a public-private partnership (P3) delivery method to bring in private investment to complete the project.

As one of Florida’s largest transportation projects ever and one of Skanska’s three P3s in the U.S., the I-4 Ultimate is building in a sustainable manner and has received the highest sustainability recognition: the Institute For Sustainable Infrastructure’s  Envision® Platinum Certification. I-4 Mobility Partners (I4MP), the project consortium, was honored with the award at a ceremony held in Orlando, Florida.

Interstate 4 (I-4) in Florida.

Several industry leaders formed the I-4 Mobility Partners team to design, build, finance, and operate the project thru a 40-year P3 concession agreement with a total design and construction cost of $2.323 billion dollars. The members of the I4MP team include the following:

– Skanska Infrastructure Development (Equity Member)

– John Laing Investments Limited (Equity Member)

– SGL Constructors (SGL) – Construction Joint Venture – Skanska (Lead Joint Venture Partner) Granite Construction Company and the Lane Construction Corporation

– Design Joint Venture – HDR Engineering, Inc. and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. (Lead Engineer)

– Infrastructure Corporation of America (Lead Operations and Maintenance Firm)

I-4 Ultimate, the reconstruction of 21 miles of roadway in Central Florida, is the largest project to date to receive the Envision® Platinum certification. This is the second Skanska project to receive this distinction (Expo Line Phase 2 in Los Angeles, CA was Skanska’s first project to earn Envision). The award recognizes sustainability measures applied in the planning and design phases of a project.

At a time in our nation’s history where we have an opportunity to repair and construct new infrastructure for the continued safety and health of our country, there’s something to be said about building with the environment in mind; mainly because that’s just smart building. Simply said, sustainability measures are critical and should be implemented at the onset of every project.

Certifications, such as Envision®, are attainable on all civil infrastructure projects.  With the I-4 Ultimate project, we don’t have to look far to know that this is true.

Steps Taken To Achieve ENVISION

Envision, which was created in 2012, provides a framework for evaluating infrastructure projects similar to how the LEED® evaluation system works for building projects. Envision has five areas under which points are assigned: quality of life, leadership, resource allocation, natural world, and climate and risk.

The I-4 Ultimate project received high scores in three of those categories:

Quality of Life: Central Florida’s local history and unique community character are reflected in the design because there are hundreds of nearby buildings, districts and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of these places are within the project limits, including the town of Eatonville, Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District.

Leadership: To meet the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) sustainability goals, an agenda was created early in the program to provide the project’s foundation. This includes social priorities such as health and safety, community involvement and business ethics; environmental priorities, including energy, carbon, materials, water and local impacts; and economic priorities such as project selection criteria, supply chain management and value added to society.

Natural World: A comprehensive Contamination Management Plan and Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan was developed to prevent pollutants from contaminating soils, surface water and groundwater. Four underground storage tanks and 145 tons of soil contamination from historic releases have been removed from the project site.

Invasive species are controlled by removing existing Brazilian Pepper trees and Tropical Soda Apple shrubs along the project’s right-of-way, while including non-invasive native plants for landscaping and maintaining wetland functions.

Our team receiving the award on July 20, 2017.

What this Means for Future Infrastructure Projects

The ongoing conversations about needed investment to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure are complicated, but building sustainably shouldn’t be. There is a real opportunity to not only ‘do the right thing,’ but to build environmentally conscious projects that will have lasting effects for decades to come. Not to mention, it’s good business for both the public and private sectors and can deliver economic, social and environmental benefits in the process.

Envision, as an example, helps quantify those benefits and make them demonstrable at the critical point of procurement – when decision makers have the best chance to make impactful and lasting decisions.

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Vive le vert! Skanska’s commitment to sustainability runs deep

We’re not champions for green because of international agreements – although we’ve put our name to paper in support of them on more than one occasion. We’re not champions for green because it’s what the vast majority of our customers and employees want – though they do.

We’re champions for sustainability because sustainability is core to our values.  We are a construction and development company.  We like to say we build what matters.  The schools, bridges, homes, hospitals, office buildings, airports and countless other forms of social and civil infrastructure we build have immediate and lasting effects on the communities where we work.

Think back to 1995. There was no such thing as LEED®.  “Green” defined a color, not a high-performing building.  “Renewables” probably had more to do with magazine subscriptions than how your electricity was generated.

That same year, Skanska joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. A year later, the first of our business units achieved ISO 14001 certification (today, our entire business carries this environmental certification). The point is, Skanska is all in on sustainability and has been for more than two decades.

While we can build virtually anything, we endeavor to build the best, most sustainable projects.  That is not only the right thing to do; it is the most responsible business strategy supporting our investors, our customers and our communities. When we put our resources to work in support of research like the Living Building Financial Study, we lay the groundwork that, over the past 10 years, has seen deep green net-zero energy and water buildings go from dream, to reality. When we are good stewards of the environment surrounding our projects, we ensure that construction activities don’t foul the water that our communities depend on. When we develop projects to achieve LEED Gold certification or better, we help make sure our growing cities can accommodate more people and a larger built environment by conserving resources. If we help save the planet in the process, all the better. We’ll continue to push the boundaries to get to the next level of sustainable performance like we always have.

The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music in Miami was awarded LEED Platinum earlier this year and features rooftop solar panels that provide about 16% of the building’s electricity needs.

Today, we join hundreds of like-minded businesses universities, municipal and state governments to say that Skanska’s commitment to sustainability isn’t affected by whether or not our federal government joins the chorus in support of the Paris Accord.

We will stay the course because regardless of the compelling science regarding global warming, it is smart to build buildings and infrastructure projects that pump less pollution into the atmosphere.

West Riverfront Park in Nashville achieved LEED Gold certification and features over one mile of multi-use greenway trails.

It is smart to build projects that are so efficient that they save tenants and owners millions of dollars in utility costs.

It is smart to build highways that are lit by lights that are a fraction of the cost to operate and safer to maintain.

It is smart to build schools and hospitals that use designs proven to improve educational and health outcomes.

Simply: It is always smart to seek new and innovative ways to deliver better value. And a lot of those happen to correlate with the greenest ways to deliver value, too.

Capitol Tower is the first Houston development to reach LEED v4 Platinum precertification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and was one of only three core and shell projects nationally pre-certified under the standard. The building will use 25 percent less energy than typical facilities.

Carbon is a useful common denominator in doing the math on delivering valuable assets that will endure over time.  Using carbon values, it is possible to tally the cost of dissimilar things like utilities, materials, transportation of materials and people, so the total life cycle benefit of different solutions can be compared.  Owners and project teams can then pick the smartest solution.  That is smart business, Paris Accord or not.

We look forward to exploring ways to drive a low-carbon economy and a more sustainable future with our partners and clients because it’s in our blood. We made our decision on the Paris Accord long before it was ratified and the decision was easy: we are all in.

Elizabeth Heider

Elizabeth Heider

Chief Sustainability Officer, Skanska USA

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To Our Future Female Leaders: Don’t Tie On Those Boxing Gloves Just Yet

A version of the following byline was featured on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Insiders Network, an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions.

I was at a leadership conference recently, and the room was filled with business leaders, mostly women in their 50’s and 60’s who are enjoying successful and satisfying careers. There was one exception: a special guest who had graduated from Yale last spring. She stood up and shared how surprised she was listening to a room full of women sharing lessons learned, and not one mentioned discrimination. She and her friends spoke often about how they would enter the workforce at a “disadvantage,” and they were preparing themselves to operate within “dismissive cultures.” The audience, myself included, went silent.

How did we get here? How did we get to a place on some college campuses where the narrative of intolerance in the name of social justice has gotten so ugly that the message for young women is gloves up and prepare for battle when entering the workforce? What have I and all the women before me fought for? To those in the early stage of your career or just beginning it, I assure you we are not at the end of gender equality in the workplace, but we are certainly not at the beginning either. Sexual harassment at Uber, porn in the military, pay inequality, and the current political tide aside, we are way beyond gloves up in corporate America.

You should be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was. When I graduated in 1989 from Georgetown University, my teachers and my parents made it clear that I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard. I would hate to think young women don’t have that kind of encouragement and hope now. My gender never even occurred to me then. And even today, I think of myself as a leader, not a female leader. And for me, being a leader is about how we make others feel about their potential—it’s about bringing out the best in those around us.

As women, we cannot become the stories we hear or fear. Assuming you will be marginalized increases your chances of making it so. And it doesn’t give credit to all the men out in the workforce who “get it.” Have there been jerks along the way in my career? Hell yes, and some of those jerks were even women. I’ve seen too many women stand in their own way, from not raising their hand for a promotion they deserve to letting someone talk over them in a meeting. Often, the default thinking is: I’m not ready; that’s not in my comfort zone; I’ve never done that before, instead of, “Can I learn that?” I’ve told those I mentor to get comfortable being uncomfortable, especially those who do not feel empowered to speak up. When I ask, “What are you afraid of? What is the worst that could happen? Will they think you’re stupid? Unprepared?” The answers are almost always nothing and no.

For the women just getting started in their careers, my advice is pretty simple: Bring your amazing and flawed female self to work every day. And get out of your own way. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

By Nicole Didda, Chief Communications Officer, Skanska USA

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Why we’re piloting a new hard hat

There is no symbol of construction like the hard hat. It is the most visible piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) we use and one of the most critical. Yet, it is also one of the least evolved. Hard hats in use today, by and large, are the same as the ones used a generation ago.

While the traditional hard hat provides impact protection to the top of the head, it has marginal effectiveness protecting against impacts to the front or back. A sudden movement, tilt of the head or, worse, a fall, generally means the hard hat flies off. In the latter case, it not only leaves the worker unprotected, but can also lead to the hard hat becoming a falling projectile. That can happen at any height, even a slip, trip or fall from ground level. When we do work at heights, we often tether our tools and workers are required to tie off. The same is not standard for hard hats.

Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released figures indicating that construction workers suffer more traumatic brain injuries than workers in any other field in the United States. Any step we can take to further protect workers is a necessary step.

We believe there is room for improvement and, if you see a Skanska job site, you may start to see a new look among some of our workers.

The latest hard hat is rated to protect effectively against impacts to the top, front and back of the head.

On several project sites, we are piloting the use of a construction helmet that, at first glance, might seem more at home on a hockey rink or rock-climbing wall. At first, we see workers look at them a bit funny, but after a week or so in practice, few have wanted to go back to the old-style hat. That’s because the benefits far outweigh any odd glances, and most deal with being safer:

– The hard hat is not only rated to protect effectively against impacts to the top of the head, but also the front and back. The truth is, most workers can probably think of times where they’ve scraped the front or back of their heads more often than something hitting the top of their hats. The new hat is obviously an upgrade. Normally, a blow to the front or back of a hard hat causes the hat to shift, which can lead to a blow to the head. Our new hats don’t do this.

– The chin strap keeps the hat in place. We say we stretch and flex every morning the same way an elite athlete does before a game. Similarly, most football and hockey players keep their helmets strapped on. So do bikers, rock climbers and more. It’s common sense that when you’re in motion, you should strap in for protection. The upshot is easy to imagine on a job site. You can look up or down with both hands free, not needing to hold the hat in place. In the event of an unforeseen motion, the hard hat stays in place. When working at heights, a hard hat that can be strapped on should be a no-brainer. In fact, we have started to require them in certain scenarios involving heights and exposure to wind.

– A side benefit is the visor for eye protection. Rated the same way safety glasses are, the visor provides more coverage, is attached to the hat (so no real way to forget to take safety glasses along) and, for the most part, never fogs up, a constant frustration with safety glasses.

– Lastly, feedback from the field says it’s actually pretty comfortable to wear.

You can imagine it’s already a big change for some craft workers to trade their hard hat for something new. Hard hats are often personalized and, in some cases, help tell the story of a worker’s career. It’s encouraging that so many workers have not only been willing to try something new, but that they’re willing to do so because, when you get right down to it, they want to be as safe as possible. They all want to go home to their friends and families every day.

So, if you see a Skanska site, take a look. More and more, we expect you’ll see the new hard hats in action. When you see them, know that it’s because the crew on the site is wearing them to further prevent head injuries.

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How a construction approach to safety can benefit everyone

This week marks Skanska’s 13th annual Safety Week and the 4th annual Construction Industry Safety Week. We asked Paul Haining, Chief EHS Officer for Skanska USA Inc., how the Plan > Do > Check > Act cycle of continuous improvement, this year’s focus, can help drive us towards zero incidents as an industry.

Proper planning, an engaged workforce and proactive communication reduces incidents. These are the basic principles for Skanska’s Injury-Free Environment® (IFE) mindset and safety protocols that drive the way we work.

While a construction Environment Health & Safety (EHS) Manual can be hundreds of pages of procedures, a lot of it can be boiled down to a simple thought process that can be applied even at home by DIY-ers. The Plan > Do > Check > Act cycle helps drive our culture, influencing the way we live and those who work with us.

How the Plan > Do > Check > Act cycle works:

Plan: Evaluate the work to be done, whether across the scope of work or for just a single day. Establish what success looks like. Identify all hazards and how you will address them.

Do: Execute the plan as it was written. If circumstances change or if conditions arise that were not accounted for in the plan, stop. Revaluate and move ahead according to the new plan.

Check: After the work is complete, evaluate the results. Did the plan work? Are there things that should be improved in the plan moving forward? What didn’t the original plan cover?

Act: Make adjustments and create a new plan based on the evaluation. Begin the cycle again.

The Plan > Do > Check > Act cycle drives safe choices and productivity. Everyone’s inspiration for working safely is different. The “why” is the motivator that drives someone to make the safe choice over a quick and dirty alternative. Where we find common ground is in the method in which we work.

The Time is Now

Our industry has made great strides to protect workers and we are closer than ever to achieving the ultimate goal of zero injuries. With construction volume forecast to increase and a significant number of seasoned craft workers nearing retirement, we must all work to sustain a culture that rejects the thinking that incidents are an unavoidable part of the work we do.

The construction industry is looking at a potentially grim equation if it doesn’t reinforce its safety efforts. Dodge Data & Analytics is forecasting a 5 percent increase in construction starts in 2017 at the same time as the construction industry tackles a labor shortage with more than 150,000 unfilled positions. With many industry veterans leaving the workforce, the risk is that newly-hired skilled workers enter the field without knowledge of how to plan work to avoid injuries.

The labor shortage presents an opportunity now, more than ever, for the industry to band together to help drive unified expectations and our safety culture. Each person who steps onto a construction site has something to learn. That is what the Plan > Do > Check > Act cycle instills in the people who use it on a daily basis. By teaching this method of working to each person who enters a Skanska jobsite, we are giving workers – new and old – the foundation to work safe on future projects, industry-wide.

When we all work safe, we all go home safe.

Taking the mindset home

Another facet of Skanska’s IFE culture is that it isn’t just for work; it’s a lifestyle.

On this blog a few years ago, I discussed how pro cyclist Danny MacAskill plans for risk and how he says he constantly evaluates what he’s doing. That constant evaluation is the core of Plan > Do > Check > Act and it should be applied whenever we do anything with risk.

Just as complacency on a job site can lead to a cascade of factors that lead to injury, a near-miss when driving, working around the yard or even waiting for your ears to stop ringing after a great concert is a sign that, perhaps, we can plan those activities differently to be a bit safer.

As we focus this week on making our industry as safe as can be, so too can each of us strive to be safe no matter what risks we face every day.

Paul Haining

Paul Haining

Chief environment, health and safety officer

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Embracing the WELL Building Standard: The Next Step in Green

Did you turn off the lamp on your desk today before you left the office? Did you remember to reach down and turn off the power strip your computer was plugged into? When you got home from work, did you walk through the house turning off all the lights the kids had left on, and did you reach over and turn off the running water while they were brushing their teeth?

You probably did because Earth Day is upon us. It’s the one day a year when reminders are everywhere to do the thousands of small things that can make a difference in the health and well-being of our planet and in our future.

What started in 1970 as a call to protect the environment for future generations, has turned into a global movement. At Skanska, we don’t wait for Earth Day to work toward building a better society. We work hard to bring innovative ideas and sustainable solutions to each and every project we undertake.

 LEED certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, has been the standard in our industry for many years for designing and building environmentally preferable and energy-efficient buildings. LEED – and other standards – have evolved raising the bar over the years.

Enter the WELL Building Standard, by the International Well Building Institute. The certification builds on the foundation of LEED, and goes further. WELL version 1 has been in the development stage the last five years, going though both pilot and peer review, and it’s now ready for prime time, with version 2 expected late 2017/early 2018. We expect to see a growing interest in applying this standard to new building construction, actively building human health into the planetary improvements that Earth Day founders originally envisioned.

And with good reason. When you consider that 90% of our time is spent in buildings, how these environments can contribute to workplace productivity, health and wellness is the logical next step in the smart building movement.

Because the U.S. is mostly a service economy, most companies spend less than 10% on their mortgage and utilities and 90% on personnel. The bigger investment, therefore, is in people, so creating an environment that nurtures the health and well-being of a workforce, and reduces sickness, absenteeism and healthcare costs are important. It creates a virtuous cycle in which we all benefit.

We’ve all read about how millennials are reshaping the workplace, seeking live/work/play environments. By 2020, millennials will account for 50% of the global workforce. And this cohort is full of sustainability natives, meaning they see building green as a smart and natural thing to do. I suspect that they will be quick to embrace WELL.

The WELL standard is a win-win for both the building owner and the workforce. From the building owner’s perspective, they can see real savings by lowering absenteeism and presenteeism, where workers are sick on the job, for example. This lost productivity is said to cost U.S. employers more than $570 billion annually (based on the Integrated Benefits Institute and includes workers compensation, disability and group health program expenses). The WELL standard creates and environment built on health and wellness, keeping people active and energetic. On the workforce side, this way of smart building attracts employees who seek to work in spaces and buildings that have a ‘cool’ factor and play a role in improving on the green-built foundation.

What’s WELL all about? WELL addresses seven concepts:

1. Air: WELL establishes requirements in buildings that promote clean air and reduce or minimize the sources of indoor air pollution

2. Water: WELL promotes safe and clean water through the implementation of proper filtration techniques and regular testing

3. Nourishment: WELL requires the availability of fresh and wholesome foods, limits highly-processed ingredients and supports mindful eating

4. Light: WELL provides illumination guidelines that minimize disruption to the body’s circadian system, enhance productivity and support good sleep quality

5. Fitness: WELL promotes the integration of physical activity into everyday life by providing opportunities and support for an active lifestyle and discouraging sedentary behaviors

6. Comfort: WELL considers thermal, acoustic, ergonomic, and olfactory comfort to optimize indoor working environments

7. Mind: WELL optimizes cognitive and emotional health through design, technology, and treatment strategies

From a logistical perspective, the organization that certifies LEED projects, the Green Business Certification Institute (GBCI) also certifies WELL projects. This makes it easy to see how close a LEED project is to gaining WELL certification. WELL goes further by requiring information from employer on policies and benefits that go beyond the built environment.

The triple bottom line is about planet, profit and people. WELL doubles down on all three aspects of sustainability building on LEED’s strong foundation. It’s a fast and direct on-ramp to next generation buildings and the people who will occupy them. And we need to keep going.

Elizabeth Heider

Elizabeth Heider

Chief Sustainability Officer, Skanska USA

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Spring cleaning tips: Weekend warriors can stay safe with tips from construction pros

We’ve made it. Spring is finally here. While that signals a shift in the weather, it’s also a reminder that it’s time for spring cleaning. But before you dust off those indoor cleaning supplies and attack some outdoor projects, keep in mind that safety should go hand-in-hand with spring cleaning.

Homeowners probably don’t see a lot of similarities between household upkeep and the activities of a massive construction site. However, many of the same safety risks construction workers face exist for the “do-it-yourself” work that weekend warriors hit the toolbox for every spring.

Hundreds of thousands of people injure themselves just “doing work around the house” every year. Many of these injuries could be prevented if people treated work at home the way construction companies approach safety.

It is assumed construction is dangerous work and, indeed, workers must plan for how they will address a variety of hazards every day. In 2016, as a result, 91 percent of Skanska’s job sites in the United States had zero incidents that resulted in a worker missing time from work. We want to get that number to 100 percent. The larger point is that when people respect the dangers they potentially face, and take the time to plan out the work, incidents can be avoided.

Our homes are perceived as safe places, but there really is no difference in risk between a ladder being used on a construction project site and one at your home. By approaching work at home like a construction crew would, we might all spend more time grilling on the patio than recovering from an injury. Below are a few safety tips from the jobsite to apply in your home:

Cleaning the gutters

This is a task that almost certainly requires a ladder. Did you know that a ladder is often the last-resort choice on construction sites for working at heights? When a ladder is used, extensive planning takes place. At home, most people grab the ladder and go, making it no surprise that the Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates there are about 165,000 ladder-related injuries every year.

Before climbing up to clear gutters of accumulated debris, start on the ground. Is the ladder in good shape? How will you stabilize the ladder (e.g. having someone there to hold on)? Keep in mind: Skanska doesn’t allow for extension ladders that haven’t been physically tied to the structure. Where will you put this ladder and is it level?

Once on the ladder, never climb past the third rung from the top. Never lean off the side of the ladder. It may be a bit more time consuming to climb down and move the ladder, but it is safer. Certainly, don’t get the idea to climb onto your slanted roof and work from above. Construction workers would tell you they’d be uncomfortable doing that without tying off properly. Trust the professionals. Incidents on ladders happen quickly and, often, catastrophically. Proper planning can eliminate those risks.

Lawn care

Nothing says spring like the smell of freshly-mowed grass. A lawn mower is probably the top piece of equipment used by homeowners to take care of their property and, where there’s a lawn mower, there’s also usually a trimmer nearby.

On a construction site, specialized equipment like this would require dressing appropriately. Do you do the same at home? For instance, the low-to-the-ground blade would require closed-toe shoes. Something being pushed means the need for gloves to protect the hands from a variety of hazards. The propensity of lawn mowers and trimmers to fling rocks and debris in the air at a high speed would demand a worker wear long pants and eye protection. The noise would require hearing protection. People who work in similar conditions every day would dress appropriately. Why not follow their lead? Lawn care isn’t a fashion contest and you don’t get a lot of second chances when it comes to injuries to your sight or hearing.

Using the right tools for fix-it jobs

One of the leading causes of an incident on any of our job sites is a lapse where a worker uses the wrong tool for a job or uses the right tool the wrong way. If you’ve ever tried to hammer in a nail with the handle of a screwdriver, you’re guilty of this.

Improvising is not a good solution if safety is the goal. Tools are designed to do a specific task very well, but misuse can lead to a variety of cuts, lacerations and… well, do the right Google search and you can find worse outcomes.

Lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling and awkward postures

How many times have you performed a task at home, only to find yourself arriving at work the next day with sore aching muscles?  Ergonomics-related hazards at home are also equally significant and comparable to what we face on a construction site.  Often times, the “how” portion of moving the material from point A to point B gets overlooked in planning of work, because as humans, we tend to be programmed to just pick something up without considering how we are going to do so.  We also tend to ignore warning signs of potential strain type injuries and push through the task in the spirit of getting the job done.

Prior to each task, determine what materials need to be moved and how to safely move them. Do you need a partner to help with any lifting and carrying? Can you utilize a cart at waist height for easier access to materials, versus bending over multiple times throughout the day? Will you be working in an awkward body posture? If so, are you able to rearrange things to place your body in a more natural posture? Another good tip is to perform stretching exercises prior to beginning your task.  Skanska performs stretch and flex exercises every day of every week prior to going to work, as a way of getting our muscles warmed up. It also creates more fluidity around the joint areas, so we are adequately prepared to use our bodies that day.

There’s more…

Sometimes, even things that seem like simple fixes require turning off water, power or gas. An example of this is replacing an electrical fixture that you were waiting for better weather to handle, and turning the power off before doing so.  This is something construction teams are also very familiar with, often taking extra steps to ensure all workers on site know what’s live so they can plan against it. Storing cleaning agents properly can ensure no spills of potentially harmful chemicals, as well. On job sites, that’s usually a legal requirement. In your backyard shed, though, it’s equally important.

Two other common construction site mantras will help eliminate injuries at home, too. If conditions arise that you didn’t anticipate, stop and re-think the plan. Don’t proceed like everything is normal if it is not. Know when to ask for help. If you don’t think you can safely accomplish the task, stop and get help from others.

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Celebrating National Engineers Week

Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951, National Engineers Week was created to increase an interest and understanding of engineering and technology careers.

In honor of National Engineers Week, we’re showcasing a few of our most outstanding engineers from across the country. Our engineers are not only problem solvers, but innovators and community shapers. From being on the cutting edge of new technology to making the impossible, possible – we are proud to be the home to so many engineers who seek to make an impact on the world we live in by Building What Matters.

Mike Goetz

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people might not know? As a construction engineer, a large portion of my time entails interacting with the tradesmen and tradeswomen. So, in addition to working with calculations and drawings, my time is spent communicating with the various foremen and superintendents in the field and planning the construction activities with them.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I am most proud to have been a member of a team that has successfully constructed the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. This project was extremely challenging in many ways and could not have been built without a tremendous amount of innovation and hard work by the many people involved in its construction. I am proud to have played a role in the construction of this iconic structure.

What made you want to be an engineer? When I was young, I decided I wanted to build things that impacted a community in a very real and tangible way. I really liked the idea of figuring out how a building or a project comes together and helping make that process go as smooth and efficiently as possible.As I have gotten older and joined the construction industry and gained more experience on a few large heavy civil projects, my attraction to this kind of work has only increased.

Some of Mike’s notable projects include World Trade Center Transportation Hub, Second Avenue Subway, Croton Filtration Plant, and Paerdegat Basin Combined Sewer Overflow Facility projects.

Cela Gallagher

What is something interesting about being an engineer people may not know? It’s a job that requires knowledge and experience in both design and construction. In urban projects, engineers need to be able to communicate complex construction issues clearly to stakeholders and communities. I regularly liaise with LA building officials, LA fire chiefs, LAPD staff and Metro officials presenting our work plans and explaining the approach. It’s really important to keep all the stakeholders involved and get their buy-in on complex urban projects.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? Being part of a team building key transport infrastructure in the city where I live is very rewarding and I get a large amount of satisfaction telling people “we built that” when they tell me they rode the Expo line to Santa Monica. It has been an exciting and challenging career that has stretched me as I get opportunities to work on very complicated projects.

What made you want to be an engineer? My dad (an ironworker by trade) convinced me that I would make a lot of money and have a nice car. When I started studying engineering, I did not know any other female engineers at the time so it was a leap of faith, but I thought it would be a unique career choice.

Some of Cela’s notable projects are the London 2012 Olympic Park and Expo 2 Light Rail.

Mackenzie Kirby

What is something interesting about being an engineer people may not know? Engineers often ask a lot of questions – not because we don’t know the answer, but because we want to find a different, creative solution.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I’m proud that people can come to me with questions and advice and fully value my response.

What made you want to be an engineer? I chose to be a field engineer because I wanted the opportunity to be exposed to the different data and problems that we solve on our projects.

Some of Mackenzie’s notable projects include the Novartis Campus Expansion and LaGuardia Airport Terminal B Redevelopment.

Andrew Giocondi

What are some of the most notable projects you have worked on? The Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project, originally built in 1908, is also known as the “Salt and Pepper Shaker Bridge” due to its iconic towers at mid-span. It has been one of the most challenging and unique projects I have ever worked on. This multi-modal bridge spans across the Charles River connecting Boston and Cambridge for the MBTA Red Line, motor vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians.  Our team has been tasked with reconstructing the bridge to provide upgraded structural capacity while maintaining and restoring its historic nature.

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people may not know? My favorite part about being an engineer is the opportunity to innovate.  Working as an engineer in the heavy civil construction industry gives me the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between design and construction.  With an engineering background and knowledge of constructability, cost, and schedule, I always look to provide value engineering to the project.  Our goal as engineers is to optimize the design to provide the owner with the best solution.

What made you want to be an engineer and what are you most proud of being an engineer? I have always had a passion for building and creating. Since I was very young, I have always been intrigued by the process in which things are constructed. The two most rewarding things about being an engineer for me is working with great teams and a job well done. One thing I have learned is great teams make great projects. There is nothing more satisfying then working with a group of people driven to achieve a common goal.

One of Andrew’s most notable projects is the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

Marietta Alcover Ramos

What is something interesting about being an engineer people may not know? Being an engineer in construction is pretty amazing. I don’t think people realize how big of a team effort it really is. Every time we’re faced with a challenge, as an engineer, you help to design a solution and it’s not possible to have a positive outcome without the input and support of the other team members such as the superintendent, the laborers, and the designer. Sometimes you can solve a problem on paper, but when you go implement it in the field, it’s not feasible. That’s when the knowledge and the experiences of the people who are actually in the field are most valuable.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? Being part of the team that reconstructed the World Trade Center, a New York and global icon, while playing a role in the rebirth of lower Manhattan. The world will always remember the tragic events of 9/11, but at the same time being involved in building a brighter future for the city was priceless.

What made you want to be an engineer? When I applied to college, I actually applied for the pre-med program. It wasn’t until the summer before I went to college that I changed my mind. It was a combination of my interest in physics and my conversations with my high school teacher Ms. Gwendolyn that helped me make that decision. During one of my co-ops, I worked for a plumbing/fire protection/HVAC subcontractor, and that’s when I fell in love with construction. It confirmed for me that I made the right decision.

One of Marietta’s most notable projects is the World Trade Center Path Hall.

Matt Arrigoni

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people may not know? Being an engineer in the field of construction provides some amazing opportunities to have hands on experience. To me, spending time out of the office and in the field to understand exactly how something is constructed really lets me learn the details of constructability and helps advance my knowledge on the subject vastly.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I’m currently working on the LaGuardia Airport CTB Replacement Project and knowing that this historical project is making national news is pretty awesome. Contributing to work that will stand and serve as an international hub for people every day is something I can take a lot of pride in.

What made you want to be an engineer? I always had an interest in problem solving, whether it was a math problem I had in school or how to fix a bike chain that fell off its gears, I was always fascinated on how things worked. After some researching in high school of what I really wanted to do with my life, I found the perfect answer that balances my passion and ever adapting work environment.

One of his most notable projects is The United Nations Capital Master Plan.

Kate Wallen

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people may not know? I’m in a field that has existed for centuries, yet it is also constantly growing and developing. Being an engineer in the 21st century offers me the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of technology and new ideas that didn’t exist until recently. I have the opportunity to learn from people who have been in the field for several decades and, at the same time, pave the way for those who are coming into the industry behind me with their own innovation and fresh ideas.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? Because I am in preconstruction, I have the opportunity to touch most of the projects that come through our office. This offers me a level of exposure and experience that I otherwise would not have. In the short time since I’ve been full time at Skanska, I have developed a stronger understanding of all facets of the construction management industry and that is something I am proud of.

What made you want to be an engineer? In high school, I enrolled in a drafting/architecture class because of my interest in math. When deciding my major, I found myself drawn to construction management.  I enjoy the social side as well as the technical side, and I have found there is a combination of both in estimating engineering.

Anna Greenfield

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people may not know? Most people consider engineering to be formulaic and predictable, but I have actually found it to be a profession that allows for significant creativity. Our team is always looking for innovative solutions to address challenges, mitigate risk and enhance efficiency.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I was able to implement laser scanning technology to capture steel plate geometry for fabrication of replacement steel on the Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project. Over the course of the project, more than 2,600 base plates required replacement. Initially, teams tied off, climbed the arches, collected hand measurements and recorded the data in AutoCAD to generate shop drawings for the base plates. This approach was time-consuming, increased safety risks and allowed for human error. Realizing this issue early on, our team utilized a 3D handheld laser scanner to improve the speed and accuracy of steel fabrication. Using the scanner allowed us to collect the data 10 times faster and generate shop drawings that were accurate to within a sixteenth of an inch. Our team used a long-range pole to scan the arches from the platform below, making the process much safer than the manual approach.

What made you want to be an engineer? I have always loved the challenge of problem solving, but I was drawn to engineering because of the tangible solutions and the means to positively impact the community.

Kyle Havertine

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people may not know? The most interesting thing to me is that being an engineer in the construction industry is as much a ‘people business’ as it is exercising your technical skills.  You meet people from all walks of life and can learn so much from building relationships with those around you.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I think Skanska says it best – I am proud to ‘Build What Matters’.  Being involved with healthcare projects, I am very proud to build facilities that help entire communities, both from a perspective of the people who visit the hospital, and the people that are employed by the hospitals.

What made you want to be an engineer? From a young age, I have never been able to look at something and not wonder – What is it made out of? What are the pieces and parts? How does it get put together? I think it’s just my natural persona to want to dive deeper into things beyond surface level.

Jennifer Bradshaw

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I am proud to be a project engineer because I am part of a team that can deliver successful projects to our most valued customers.

What made you want to be an engineer? My dad was my inspiration for becoming an engineer. I always liked to build things when I was a kid.

One of Jennifer’s most notable projects is the Alcoa Warrick Pusher Furnace.

Maura Fox

What are some of the most notable projects you have worked on? The Park Towne Place Renovation, which is a 19-story renovation of 234 apartments as well as renovations to the lobby, pool, community center, and parking garage.  It was a highly logistical project that really opened my eyes to just how many aspects of the project there are to manage besides the civil and structural engineering that I learned in college.  It wasn’t the grandest or most innovative of projects, but it was notable for me because I learned so much from it.

What is something interesting about being an engineer that people may not know? People may not know how people-oriented this career is. I learned the technical skills in college, but that is nothing compared to the persuasion, negotiation, leadership, and teamwork needed in order to be successful as an engineer.

What are you most proud of being an engineer? I try to take pride in the little things throughout the course of construction. For example, the crane pick that went successfully due to proper planning, the milestone date that was met, the minimal punch list reflecting quality work, and so forth.  In doing so, I remember that even the seemingly small tasks play a part in making the project successful.

What made you want to be an engineer? I wanted a career where I could watch my hard work physically create something that is making a positive impact on lives.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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