Sustainability is one of our core values . This doesn’t just mean implementing green practices on our projects – it also means standing up for this important part of what defines Skanska. Our sustainability commitment was recognized in November when the U.S. Green Building Council awarded our CEO Mike McNally its Leadership in the Private Sector Award “for being an unwavering and bold champion for USGBC and LEED in the face of continued attacks by special interest groups.”
The award is based on McNally’s decision to protest the chemical industry’s attempt to water down green building standards to protect their sales. The chemical lobby is trying to add an amendment to the popular Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill pending in the Senate; this addition would effectively ban the future use of the LEED green rating system in federal buildings, significantly weakening green building efforts. When McNally learned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was supporting this lobbying effort, he asked the Chamber to withdraw their support. When it didn’t, he publicly dropped Skanska’s Chamber membership, a move that generated much media coverage. (Read McNally’s Washington Post op-ed on this topic here.)
“I was outraged,” McNally said in a video prepared for the awards ceremony at USGBC’s Greenbuild convention in Philadelphia. “Once you let one group diminish the [LEED] standards, where does that stop?”
McNally explained his rationale: “The objective [of withdrawing from the Chamber] was to draw attention to the issue. When an issue like this sees the light of day, we figured it wasn’t going to survive. It’s all about sticking to your values. Anybody sitting in my seat, the culture of our company would have forced them to make the same decision.”
Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC’s president and CEO, praised McNally: “Mike McNally was the one person in the entire world who stood up and said enough is enough. That one move sent a missile across the bow of the American Chemistry Council’s current opportunity to mess with the USGBC and our work and our hard efforts. Thank you Skanska and thank you Mike McNally for having the vision and strength and conviction to do that for us.”
Fedrizzi added: “Mike, your leadership is stand-alone awesome, and we will forever be grateful.”
McNally believes that supporting green building helps drive better project solutions.
“Every day, we see examples of industry innovating to meet the market’s desire for sustainable materials and processes,” McNally said after the ceremony. “These solutions are straddling the line between responsibility and profitability. That’s what makes the chemical industry’s stance even more outrageous.”
The Shaheen-Portman bill is still awaiting a Senate vote. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill if it passes the Senate.