This week, Skanska is helping to sponsor Greenbuild in Los Angeles, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.
For the 2016 event, Greenbuild will – for the first time – feature a transit project as part of the program: the Skanska-built Expo Line Phase 2, the country’s first-ever Envision-certified light rail project and our first to achieve this celebrated designation.
The 6.6-mile extension of the Expo Line light rail was certified at Envision’s highest level, Platinum, and lays claim to another first: connecting downtown L.A. and the Santa Monica beach by train for the first time in more than six decades.
Enabling the Platinum certification included specific project aspects such as the significant hiring of local craft labor, sourcing regional materials to the highest standards of the Envision program and integrating the new rail line with other means of transit, from bus systems to bike paths.
“This is a significant milestone for every stakeholder involved in this project,” says Skanska USA Chief Sustainability Officer Beth Heider. “Envision certification shows that no matter what you’re building, it can be built green.”
Helping Shape Envision
Administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), Envision consists of a broad range of criteria that address a project’s impact on the surrounding community and environment, technical considerations regarding materials and processes, and other critical choices spanning the project’s lifecycle. In key ways, Envision aligns with how Skanska defines sustainability.
As beneficial as Envision is, the current version is focused on the planning and design phases of a project, with little focus on construction. For the next version of Envision due out in 2018, Skanska has a key role in incorporating construction aspects throughout the system, and in leading the development of four credits focused on construction activities.
Ryan Prime, Skanska USA Civil’s sustainability director, chairs the ISI group overseeing the extension of Envision into construction. He finds his involvement “hugely motivating.”
“Week by week, it is becoming clear that Envision is gaining more and more traction in the industry,” Ryan says. “It makes me very proud to work for Skanska, which affords me the opportunity to be part of a major industry shift like this.”
Ryan adds: “I am also proud of how Skanska does business, particularly with our focus on values. It truly positions us to be a leader in sustainability.”
Everything Goes Back to the Environment
Major pieces of transportation infrastructure – such as bridges, roads and rail lines – might not call to mind environmentally beneficial projects. U.S. civil infrastructure projects in many ways have been green, but have lacked a way to measure and guide their green activities. Envision provides a holistic framework to do that, enabling projects to aim for higher levels of green performance while also helping achieve broader sustainability goals over the long term.
“We believe that eco-certification helps drive innovation and efficiency, which is positive for everyone involved: our customers, the local communities and the environment, as well as our business,” says Greg Chant-Hall, head of sustainability for Skanska Infrastructure Development.
As we chart our company’s Journey to Deep Green™, Skanska has made a strong commitment to integrate Envision into our U.S. civil infrastructure projects, similar to how we were among the first to embrace LEED when it was launched in 1998. We are a charter member of ISI, we are part of the ISI review board that oversees Envision, and we have supported more than 60 employees in achieving the Envision Sustainability Professional designation.
Moving forward, all of our public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the U.S. must be either Envision or LEED certified, and by 2020 all of our U.S. civil infrastructure projects will seek Envision certification.
“Skanska applauds USGBC’s announcement at the Greenbuild International Summit of a new relationship with ISI,” says Heider. “We look forward to what these two great organizations will achieve together transforming every corner of the built environment.“