How our Community Advisory Teams are building stronger communities

Partnerships are what make inclusion work. Partnerships among people of various backgrounds, experiences and skillsets allow organizations to have a greater reach that transforms lives and increases the productivity of not only themselves but from those with which they partner.

At Skanska, partnership comes in many forms. Hiring a diverse talent pool and fostering a positive environment for all employees, clients and partners is one part of the equation. But partnership is about external collaboration as much as internal efforts. But partnership is about external collaboration as much as internal efforts.  We want to build more than buildings and highways – we want to build communities.

We work to engage a diverse pool of business partners. One example of partnership in action is our Community Advisory Teams (CAT), which aim to connect the under-served communities in which we work with jobs and training opportunities. We currently have CATs established in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, northern California and Seattle – and others are on the way. In D.C., our CAT brings together a group of local officials, organizers and contractors to address the pipeline of new work in the region and what it means for the community. “What we want to do is invest for our future,” said Project Director, Chris Guthkelch. “We can’t grow unless we have work forces with the skills that we actually require. And indeed to have businesses who are actually able to grow with us.”

From small business, workforce and youth development, our CAT is investing in the D.C. community and building partnerships that will create a more sustainable business environment for all. As Joanne Brooks, VP and General Counsel of the Security & Fidelity Association of America, who is part of our D.C. CAT noted, “When we talk about sustainability, we’re talking about ‘What are the tools you need to be successful long term?’ If we can really build contractors, and build businesses, we’re moving into job creation and then the next thing you know we have sustainable businesses and a flourishing community.”

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How to maximize inclusion in your workplace

Today marks the start of Skanska’s second Diversity & Inclusion Week, a special time of year to highlight one of Skanska’s core values. We believe diversity is key to providing the creative solutions that our clients demand. To introduce this week’s theme of “Inclusion Works” and share insight into how inclusion builds perspective, we spoke with Maja Egnell, a vice president of human resources focused on talent development and diversity.


How do you define inclusion?
Inclusion is a sense of belonging: feeling respected, valued for who you are, and having the support and commitment from others so you can be yourself and contribute at the top of your abilities. But inclusion is also a sense of being unique, and being recognized for your differences. An inclusive organization is a workplace that is free from exclusion, marginalization and harassment, a place where no one feels the need to hide aspects of themselves out of fear for not being accepted.

Inclusion is about mirroring the communities in which we operate, developing and utilizing diverse trade contractors, and giving back to society locally through active involvement in community activities.

This year’s Diversity & Inclusion Week theme is Inclusion Works. What’s the central message of this theme?
We want to stress how important it is for Skanska to be an organization where everyone can feel welcome and able to fully contribute with their strengths and talents, a place where everyone can reach their full potential. Inclusion is equally important for us externally: for our clients, our subcontractors and suppliers, and for the people we recruit. Inclusion makes us the company we want to be, and because it also happens to make perfect sense from a business perspective.

How has inclusion been shown to impact a business’ bottom line and performance?
When employees feel included, they are better team players and more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, such as through suggesting new ideas and improved ways of getting work done. This can boost overall organizational performance. Inclusion also lowers something called “minority stress” that can occur when a person’s minority status exists in conflict with dominant values of the surrounding social environment.

Looking at diversity, there are many examples of studies showing that mixed gender teams outperform male-dominated teams. Research shows that boards of directors need a critical mass of 30 percent women to outperform – measured by return on equity – all-male boards. Other research has shown that a racially diverse workforce is positively associated with more customers, increased sales revenue, greater relative profits and greater market share. Yet another study showed that firms that implement LGBT-friendly policies experienced increases in firm value, productivity and profitability. So it is easy to see how increasing diversity and inclusion has a huge impact for the business.

How do you ensure that you’re recruiting a diverse workforce?
In order for us to recruit the best and the brightest, we need to access a wider talent pool. To accomplish this, Skanska USA has set a target that at least 35 percent of our new graduate recruits are either women or ethnic minorities. We are also utilizing the ”Rooney Rule” concept from the National Football League. That requires at least one diverse candidate be interviewed for all job openings when sourced through external recruiters and search firms. Additionally, we work hard to establish relationships with predominately minority universities and their engineering programs, and do active recruitment at ethnically-diverse schools through career fair participation.

We also find that external posting of employment opportunities through social networks and job boards increases visibility for non-traditional candidates.

What do you hope people take away from this year’s Diversity & Inclusion Week?
I hope people feel inspired to become more curious: in their colleagues’ thoughts and experiences, but also in the outside world and our stakeholders there. What is their perspective of the world, and how can I learn from it?

I also hope that people realize how much is in their power to change our culture to make it more inclusive. Inclusion is not only an issue for leadership, it is everyone’s responsibility. Becoming more aware is a great first step, and allowing that awareness to affect the way we act towards each other will make Skanska an even greater company for which to work.

What are some ways people can help increase inclusion in their own workplace?
The first thing you can do is to take a long and hard look at yourself and identify your personal assumptions and beliefs. What attitudes do you have, and what are the behaviors you show your colleagues? Try to question your own frame of reference.  Many times, exclusive behaviors stem from a – often unconscious – personal bias that needs to be dealt with.

The next step is all about acting consciously. Involve and encourage your colleagues in discussions and decisions, and include all team members in social and office/project events. Try to stay open minded to new ideas, seek to listen and understand others’ perspectives, even if they seem foreign to you. Don’t engage in private jokes during team meetings, and make a point of challenging someone who exclude or show bias.

Inclusive leadership is all about making employees feel valued for the unique talents and perspectives they bring —without emphasizing their differences so much that they feel alienated.

What key traits do inclusive leaders exhibit?
1. Empowerment: Enabling team members to grow by encouraging them to solve problems, come up with new ideas and develop new skills.
2. Courage: Standing up for what they believe is right, even when it means taking a risk. A good example of this is directly and openly challenging an excluding or derogatory comment from a team member.
3. Humility: Admitting mistakes, learning from criticism and different points of view, and mitigating their own weaknesses through actively seeking contributions from team members.
4. Accountability: Holding team members responsible for aspects of their performance that are within their control, and through doing so showing confidence in their abilities.

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This year at Greenbuild, we’re championing green


Are you a green champion? That’s the question we’ll be asking this year at Greenbuild. It’s not enough to build green, but it’s our responsibility as an industry to stand up for sustainability.

We’ve seen firsthand how important advocacy is to advancing green building. In 2013, our CEO Mike McNally led Skanska in resigning as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest the organization’s backing of a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of LEED for government buildings. The initiative threatened to halt years of progress in energy-efficient and environmentally responsible construction. As a result of this effort, in 2013 the U.S. Green Building Council recognized Mike McNally “for being an unwavering and bold champion for USGBC and LEED in the face of continued attacks by special interest groups.”

Advocacy brings about change. In August of this year, the USGBC and the American Chemistry Council announced that they will work together to use ACC’s materials expertise to better ensure the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly products in buildings. This was a huge win for green building advocates, and a reminder that doing what’s good for a sustainable future is good for business.

This year, we’ve continued to champion green building by helping advance research that helps make the case for sustainability. Recently, the District of Columbia’s Department of Environment wanted to understand the costs and benefits associated with buildings featuring net zero energy and net zero water consumption, as well as those pursuing Living Building challenge certification. To help, Skanska joined the New Buildings Institute and the International Living Future Institute to conceptually transform three LEED v3 Platinum-designed buildings in the District to conform to those criteria.  Our findings, published in Net Zero and Living Building Challenge Financial Study: A Cost Comparison Report for Buildings in the District of Columbia, revealed that after factoring current tax and renewable energy credits, the return on investment in net zero building is approximately 30 percent!

This year we’ve also partnered with the World Green Building Council on a major global research effort to understand the impact of green building in offices on staff health and productivity. The report, Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building, found that that design features in green buildings can enable healthy and productive environments for their occupants, which in turn improves the bottom line. New standards, like WELL Building, which take into account the holistic impacts of the built environment on human wellness, build on this understanding that what is good for the environment is ultimately good for people and for business.

These are just a few of the ways we’re working to champion sustainability. If you want to join us, stop by the Skanska USA booth at Greenbuild – #2023 –  pick up your “Champion” badge and found out how you too can be an advocate for green building and energy efficiency.

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Get to know the newest additions to the San Francisco skyline

In the next few months, the new Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco will reach a number of important construction milestones.  One of them will be the arrival of two Skanska cranes which will be used to assemble the Transit Center’s structural steel.  Taking as long as a week to assemble, Skanska’s impressive machines will lift loads as heavy as the equivalent of two and a half BART cars.  The following graphic gives additional details on the newest additions to San Francisco’s crane-laden skyline.  With these machines working on-site, Bay Area residents will soon finally get to see the first real glimpse of the future Transbay Transit Center.


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From tunnel tubes to data center cooling: what we’re reading

Data centers, tunnels and power plants – this week’s roundup focuses on structures that play essential –  if sometimes under-the-radar – roles in our everyday life. While these projects don’t always capture the public’s attention the way a major skyscraper does, they’re fascinating in their own right. From the advanced engineering required to submerse a tunnel to the challenge of cooling a data center, check out what we’re reading this week:


The team at Elizabeth River Tunnels moves the 1st 16,000-ton tunnel element into place to submerge it next week.

Submersing 16,000 tons isn’t so simple

Sometimes the most fascinating parts of construction take place out of sight. Such is the case on our joint venture’s Elizabeth River Tunnels public-private partnership project in southeastern Virginia, where we’ve begun the process of submersing the first of eleven 16,000-ton concrete tunnel elements under the river’s waters. From scooping out a trench up to 95 feet deep in the river bottom, to preparing the tunnel foundation with 40,000 tons of stone and sand, to the 12-hour process of lowering one of  elements to its final location, we’ve illustrated each step of tunnel element’s underwater journey. Be sure to also check out this Gizmodo feature on the project, here.

Power and industrial – and more – heats up

We are at a crossroads in the U.S. as new energy resources and an increased emphasis on efficiency is shifting the balance of power in America’s favor. The shale gas boom is attracting energy-intensive industries to the U.S. and is creating a demand for new power plants and industrial facilities. This week, Skanska’s Rich Cavallaro spoke to Reuters about how the American energy market is impacting construction and the kinds of investments we’re looking to make in the sector.

Energy isn’t only reason we’re optimistic about the U.S. market. Increased urbanization is creating demand for new infrastructure and buildings, and not only are we constructing more of those, but we’re developing some of the most tenant-focused buildings on the market. More projects are being procured via best-value methods, which enable the benefits we bring to clients to be more fully recognized. Additionally, the American market for public-private partnerships has become of the world’s largest, as more public owners are turning to P3 to meet their building or infrastructure needs.

Check out the full outlook from Capital Markets Day, in the presentation and webcast, here.

Among the world’s most energy-efficient data centers

Data centers are increasingly important in our digital world. They also require an incredible amount of energy to keep them from overheating: twice as much energy can go into cooling a data center as is used to power the equipment. Skanska worked with Inertech to find a more efficient solution, and together we created one of the world’s most energy-efficient data center cooling systems at the TELUS data center project in Rimouski, Quebec; this project was recently certified as LEED Gold. This week, Mission Critical magazine examined the nuts and bolts of the TELUS cooling systems, noting that with more efficient cooling: “a data center using 13 million gallons a year could cut annual water consumption to 2.6 million gallons. With more than 500,000 data centers worldwide, that level of conservation could save trillions of gallons of water.”

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How we’re submersing 16,000-ton segments to create Virginia’s newest tunnel

Next week marks a major milestone for our Elizabeth River Tunnels public-private partnership project in Virginia, as the first of eleven roadway tunnel elements is being submersed into a trench carved in the river bottom. This 16,000-ton concrete element will be part of a new two-lane tube parallel to the existing Midtown Tunnel, with the expansion doubling the number of lanes to improve mobility in the Hampton Roads region. This is one of just several U.S. tunnels built in this manner, including most recently the Fort Point Channel Tunnel in Boston.

To reach this point, the SKW Constructors team – a joint venture of Skanska, Kiewit and Weeks Marine – in June floated six of the hollow concrete elements 220 miles from where they were cast near Baltimore, Md., to the project site in Portsmouth and Norfolk. See that process unfold in images, here.

Submersing these elements is amazing work requiring great precision. Yet, most of those complex activities will take place unseen beneath the Elizabeth River’s waters. To share what’s involved with this latest phase, we’ve outlined the process below.

Besides SKW, other key members of the Elizabeth River Tunnels team are the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Elizabeth River Crossings operating company and designer Parsons Brinckerhoff.


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From machines that bore tunnels to machines that tip ingots: what we’re reading this week

Want to know what’s ahead for the building industry? This week’s reading list encompasses some key trends powering our industry in the U.S.:  from infrastructure investment in California, to ultra-green buildings and increased demand in the power and industrial sector. Here’s what we’re reading:

At L.A. groundbreaking, shoveling dirt before the tunnel-boring machine arrives

Los Angeles may be known for its cars and freeways, but recent infrastructure investments are changing the transit landscape. On September 30, Los Angeles civic and political officials – and even Star Trek’s George Takei – joined our joint venture team to officially break ground on the Regional Connector. This 1.9-mile underground light-rail link will connect the Blue, Expo and Gold lines and improve the city’s public transit, re-establishing downtown L.A. as the city and region’s center. Perhaps Los Angeles Councilmember and former Metro Board Member José Huizar said it best on the Metro’s blog:

“While its execution will be grand in scale, the Regional Connector’s true aim is simply to make the lives of those who depend on public transit better. From helping parents get home sooner to be with their children, to taking the stress out of being stuck in traffic, to reducing pollution so the air we breathe is cleaner – these quality of life attributes will be the true legacy of this great project and I am proud to help bring the Regional Connector to Downtown L.A.”

How much can you save with ultra-green buildings?

Last week, 75 global leaders in sustainability gathered at our Empire State Building flagship office to discuss how society can move toward a net-zero world. One of the key discussion points centered around articulating to building owners net zero’s value, as it benefits both the environment and the bottom line. To that end, Skanska recently joined the District of Columbia’s Department of Environment, the New Buildings Institute and the International Living Future Institute to investigate the costs associated with LEED Platinum and Living Buildings, finding that net zero offers about a 30 percent return on investment. In a Building Design + Construction blog post, Skanska’s Steve Clem explores the findings of the report: Net Zero and Living Building Challenge Financial Study: A Cost Comparison Report for Buildings in the District of Columbia.

Whatever you need, our industrial machines team can probably create

Dan Goebel has an engineer’s dream job. As industrial machines discipline lead, Goebel and his team of about 10 develop innovative mechanical solutions for a broad range of clients. From a machine that can tip a 30,000-pound aluminum ingot, to an apparatus that simultaneously coats both sides of roofing material, to a custom power wheelchair, PCI Skanska’s Industrial Machines Group supplies turn-key solutions: designing, building and supporting this new equipment in the field. To learn more about our industrial machines team and Goebel’s career path from the Air Force to Skanska, check out the Q&A here.

Energy fuels U.S. building boom

What’s fueling construction growth in the U.S.? Low energy costs and the demand for public-private partnerships for infrastructure are key parts. Johan Karlstrom, Skanska group’s chief executive, spoke to Reuters about these trends.

“The U.S. is being re-industrialized,” he said. “It’s a gigantic trend that will continue for many years.”

With this next wave of energy work coming down the pipeline, we have recently launched our Power and Industrial Center of Excellence. Rich Cavallaro, Skanska USA’s incoming president and CEO, recently spoke with Downstream Today magazine about our energy sector approach. 

From the classroom to the shipyard: one intern’s summer with Skanska

Christopher Copeland, a Virginia Military Institute senior, interned this past summer at our Norfolk Naval Shipyard Pier 5 project in Virginia. Recently, he shared with us what this experience meant to him:

“I had an awesome time working at Pier 5 this summer. I was given a lot of responsibility with writing multiple work plans and managing the work through the completion of my internship. Through writing and managing these work plans, the information and knowledge I have gained this summer is priceless. Most importantly, the team at Pier 5 deserves great recognition for helping me through my learning experience in becoming a great engineer, employee and leader for Skanska.”


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Go behind-the-scenes with our industrial machines team – Q&A with engineer Dan Goebel

DGoebel_04Dan Goebel – Industrial machines discipline lead, Evansville, Ind.

The aluminum mill needing a machine developed to tip a 30,000-pound aluminum ingot, the manufacturer searching for an apparatus to simultaneously coat both sides of roofing material, and the non-profit organization wanting to develop a custom power wheelchair all came to the same team for solutions: PCI Skanska’s Industrial Machines Group. Here, we catch up with Dan Goebel, the former Air Force F-15 crew chief who leads this engineering team of about 10.

We define industrial machines broadly: anything that’s not process piping and for which a novel mechanical solution is needed. Every time somebody says, ‘It’s not my specialty,’ and it’s mechanical, it comes to my team.

Our group focuses primarily on the metals industry, but we work with several other industries too, including power, pharmaceuticals, nutritional and some automotive. We plan to be a big part of the automotive industry’s shift to using more aluminum in vehicle bodies, such as with the Ford F-150 pickup.

A lot of clients prefer turnkey delivery: They want a partner to design the equipment, build it and support it once it’s running. Skanska is unique in that we offer all of those services.

One of the most interesting solutions we’ve developed is a machine that produces a specialty roofing material. The machine – weighing about 10,000 pounds – simultaneously coats one side of the material with waterproofing and the other side with adhesive. For three years, the client had been trying to find a way to do this at another plant, but couldn’t make it work. Then we came in and provided a turnkey solution that was exactly what they needed. All of our internal resources were tapped to make that happen.

Developing these machines requires knowledge of mechanical engineering, controls and automation, and often structural engineering as well to evaluate supporting frames and foundations. At the other extreme of our work is the power wheelchair we helped the Easter Seals charity develop. Electric wheelchairs generally have drive wheels in fixed positions and those locations – front, middle or rear – each offer certain advantages, such as being able to go over curbs or make tight turns. Our design enables the user to move the drive wheels, providing them with greater mobility than with a typical power wheelchair.

It’s very rewarding seeing my team develop and grow, and watching our design capabilities improve with each project.

As an F-15 crew chief, I oversaw maintenance for a squadron of 25 F-15s based at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. It was high stress and high visibility – and a lot of fun. That role taught me the importance of having a strong work ethic and acting with integrity.

I attended the Air Force Academy because I wanted to be a pilot. But the earliest I’d have been able to leave the service would be age 38, and I didn’t want to be starting a new career then. Whenever the Blue Angels flight squadron comes to Evansville, I wonder what it would have been like to be a fighter pilot. But all I have to do is look at my four kids to realize I made the right choice.

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Building bridges and getting to net zero: what we’re reading this week

How do you sum up a week like this past one? For a company with sustainability as one of its Core Values, the energy and impact of Climate Week has been tremendously heartening. One message that resonated with us came from President Obama’s address at the United Nations in New York City, where he spoke of the nation’s work to reduce carbon emissions, stating:

We’ve made unprecedented investments to cut energy waste in our homes and our buildings and our appliances, all of which will save consumers billions of dollars. And we are committed to helping communities build climate-resilient infrastructure. These advances have helped create jobs, grow our economy, and drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly two decades — proving that there does not have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth.”

What about Climate Week stood out for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below or on Twitter with @SkanskaUSA.

Here’s what else we’ve been reading and thinking about this week:

Better offices mean better work

How productive were you this week? If the answer is “not very” – perhaps it’s the result of poor office design. A new World Green Building Council report (that we co-sponsored) found that office design can have a significant impact on staff health, wellbeing and productivity. As Skanska USA Chief Sustainability Officer Beth Heider noted, “The equation for our clients is very simple: a small percentage improvement in the health and productivity of your staff far outweighs any additional costs associated with commissioning or occupying a greener, healthier office. Giving employees the best possible conditions to perform and stay healthy is not only wise from a financial perspective, it’s just the right thing to do.”

Building a road map to net-zero

On Wednesday, 75 global leaders in sustainability joined Skanska, the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group and Track 0 at a Climate Week event at our Empire State Building flagship office in New York City to discuss the role of the built environment in moving toward a net-zero world. What was the biggest takeaway? The world of development, design and construction has a tremendous opportunity – with every project created – to make a huge difference in energy consumption and C02 emissions. Read the full recap, here.

Like magic, we made a bridge suddenly appear at this airport

Airports are some of the most challenging places to build. Since you cannot disrupt the flow of passengers or planes, projects require seamless coordination between numerous stakeholders – from the airlines, to airport operations and security. When our team at Philadelphia International Airport was tasked with erecting a pre-assembled baggage conveyor bridge over the main airport departure road, they had in less than eight hours to complete the project overnight before the airport re-opened. Sound impossible? Find out how they did it, here.

In Boston, a riveting bridge assignment

Skanska is proud to have worked on many prestigious bridges, including New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and Charleston, S.C.’s Cooper River Bridge. In Boston, our joint venture is restoring the 106-year-old Longfellow – or Salt and Pepper – Bridge. Our job is to replace the bridge’s structural elements while retaining its remarkable design features. With construction slated to finish in 2016, ENR gets an inside look at the project.

Putting builders in the driver’s seat for sustainability

Skanska’s Stacy Smedley is a leader in green building – she was the architect behind the design of our Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle, the world’s fourth Living Building. Today, she is a preconstruction manager for sustainability, providing strategic guidance across Skanska projects in the Seattle area. Stacy makes sure that Skanska, as a builder and developer, is not just implementing green practices but leading the charge for innovation in green strategies and solutions. In the Daily Journal of Commerce, she explains how and why builders need to be – and can be – active participants in sustainability.

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How do we make the built environment part of a net-zero world?


As part of Climate Week, Skanska – along with the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group and Track 0 – hosted an event at our Empire State Building flagship office in New York City. Some 75 leaders  in government, sustainability and design – from the Marshall Islands’ foreign minister to the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change – came together to discuss the future of the urban environment and how we can move toward a net-zero world. This occurred the day after hundreds of world leaders gathered at the United Nations for the 2014 Climate Summit.

Harry Verhaar, Philips Lighting’s head of global public and government affairs, set the tone for the discussion at our office when he said, “We are past the tipping point.” A net -zero future is within sight and within reach. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion. 

Beth Heider, Skanska USA’s chief sustainability officer, spoke on the green transformation of the Empire State Building – and why that matters. When Skanska moved its flagship U.S. office to that skyscraper, we decided that the space should attain LEED Platinum certification. Our goal was to “walk the walk,” demonstrating that by retrofitting our offices to this higher green building standard, we would not only be lessening our environmental footprint but also recouping our investment and even saving money over our 15-year lease.

This green retrofit will reduce our electrical bill by $683,200 over the lease (a 57 percent cost reduction), reduce our carbon footprint by nearly 80 tons per year, and diminish sick leave by 15 percent. This decision paved the way for the Empire State Building’s owner to retrofit the entire building, and has demonstrated that green building can have major cost savings over a structure’s lifecycle and can greatly improve the health and well-being of its occupants. As Heider stated, our office retrofit shows that, “We have an opportunity, through individual spaces, aggregated together, to make a difference.”

Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030, a non-profit dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, built on Heider’s presentation. He said that we’ve reached a seminal moment in history, in which, by promoting green building practices, we can “set out the agenda for built spaces for the next 100 years.” According to Mazria, 900 billion square feet will be added to the world’s existing building stock in the next decades. That’s equivalent to building a new New York City every five days. Fifty-three percent of that building will happen in China, the U.S. and Canada. With so much building poised to happen soon, now is the time to set the standards needed to make sure that it is done in a green and carbon-friendly way. Since Architecture 360 called for carbon neutral standards in 2006, there has been steady adoption from AEC professional groups, the federal government, states and cities. Thanks to this effort, “We’ve added 20 billion square feet of building stock, and we’ve saved over $4 trillion in energy costs.” As Mazria stated, “Design to better standards, we can save even more.” Architecture 2030 has laid out a Roadmap to Zero Emissions, which has been adopted by 124 global organizations and such cities as New York. Mazria’s paradigm shift is well underway.

Heider and Ferguson 1

Beth Heider, Skanska USA chief sustainability officer, and George Ferguson, mayor of the City of Bristol, UK, meet before the event.

George Ferguson, an architect and mayor of the city of Bristol, UK, offered some boots on the ground insight as to how roadmaps to zero emissions are being enacted around the world. Under Ferguson’s leadership, Bristol has been named a 2015 European Green Capital – this award recognizes cities that are making efforts to improve the urban environment and move towards healthier and sustainable living. Ferguson addressed the ways that city leaders – the doers as he called them – can push net-zero forward. He emphasized the need to act quickly, to make the roadmap digestible and fun, and to achieve quick wins that demonstrate the green building is not only good for the environment, but also more affordable.

Amory Lovins, chief scientist and chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit aiming to foster efficient and sustainable use of resources, echoed both Ferguson’s and Heider’s statements about the return on investment for net zero. In Denver, the retrofit of the historic Byron Rogers Federal Building has resulted in a 70 percent reduction in energy costs – making it one of the most energy efficient buildings in that city. As impressive as that may be, Lovins noted that it is only half as efficient as the next-generation of office buildings in the pipeline, demonstrating just how rapidly green building and the integrated design process is improving. As Lovins stated, more and more people are recognizing that “It’s easier to build things right than fix things later.” This ethos is “spreading quickly. It makes sense and saves money.”

To close, moderator Nicolette Bartlett of The Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group invited the panel to share a final thought on Climate Week with the group. Here’s what they said:

“Partnership is the new leadership. We need to come together.” – Beth Heider, Skanska

 “Cities are where the change will happen.” – George Ferguson, The City of Bristol, UK

 “Everything is going to turn all right in the end, if it’s not alright now it’s not the end yet.” – Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute (paraphrasing John Lennon)

  “There’s a transformation on the way. When our daughter got her first bike, we made her wear a helmet. This was before everyone wore helmets and it was a struggle to get her to put it on. Then, as all the kids started wearing helmets, suddenly our daughter wouldn’t be caught without one. That’s what’s happening now with buildings. It’s going to be bad to build bad buildings.”   Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030

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