Sustainability as a core value: Why Skanska is a finalist for USGBC’s inaugural Best of Building Awards

At Skanska, we’re proud of our commitment to sustainability. It’s one of our core values, and because of this, we not only build environmentally-friendly buildings but do so while practicing sustainability at the highest levels: from mitigating our environmental impacts, to being an ethical and fair employer, to working with small- and minority-owned businesses, and otherwise actively engaging with our communities. Sustainability is so important to us that all parts of Skanska USA meet the stringent standards of ISO 14001, an internationally-recognized environmental management standard.

As a result of this sustainability mindset, we’re honored to be a finalist in the U.S. Green Building Council’s inaugural Best of Building Awards in the “Best Contractor/Builder – Large” category. Nominees and winners are selected by employees of USGBC member companies registered on USGBC.org. That’s where you may come in. If you’re a USGBC member, please consider voting for Skanska by visiting http://www.usgbc.org/best-of-building.

Here are just a few reasons why we hope you will vote for us:

Because we create some of the greenest buildings around

Bertshi School - World's Fourth Living Building

Inside Seattle’s Bertschi School, the world’s fourth Living Building.

From building America’s first LEED Gold hospital (Providence Newberg Medical Center in Newberg, Ore.) and first LEED-certified airline terminal (Terminal A at Boston Logan International Airport) to the world’s fourth (and West Coast’s first) Living Building (the Bertschi School Science Classroom addition), we’re at the forefront of green building and design. Even more, we strive to push the boundaries of green in our own company offices and development projects, for which we have more control over the outcomes. Take our 129,000-square-foot Stone34 LEED Platinum-targeted development (Brooks Sports’ new headquarters) for which we designed the building to reduce water and energy use by 75 percent of comparable buildings. In Houston, our 750,000-square-foot Capitol Tower office development has been pre-certified as Platinum under LEED v4’s beta program. We live green building in our Empire State Building flagship office too, where we proved that environmentally responsible renovation is possible even 330 feet up in a 75-year-old skyscraper.

Because we believe you can build anything green

Our concrete chute wash-out system at Elizabeth River Tunnels works to capture, retain and re-use water.

Our concrete chute wash-out system at Elizabeth River Tunnels in Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va. works to capture, retain and re-use water.

Our joint venture’s Elizabeth River Tunnels project demonstrates our commitment to prioritizing sustainable outcomes when building infrastructure. This is something that more and more infrastructure clients are seeking, and the benefits through resource and money savings are clear. For example, our ERT team used a concrete chute wash-out system that allowed for the recycling of wash water in the chute washing process – it saved approximately $72,700 for every 100 pours while reducing potable water usage. In May, ERT became the first construction project approved for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Environmental Excellence Program, and it was approved at the highest level – Extraordinary Environmental Enterprise. We continue to look for new ways to apply green standards to our work. For instance, we applaud the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure for putting together a meaningful standard for civil projects with their Envision program. Two of our projects are already using Envision, which we see as raising the bar of green construction with infrastructure.

Because we stand up for what’s right

When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year backed a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of LEED for federal buildings, we resigned our membership in the Chamber. We refused to be a part of an organization that opposes the stronger LEED v4 standard. LEED v4 encourages transparency in reporting the chemical composition of building materials, something we think is essential for anyone wanting to build responsibly.

As an industry, we’re taking major strides implementing green building techniques. Because Skanska is looking to expand our efforts even further, we’re exploring new ways to incorporate the WELL Building Standard – a new protocol that focuses on human wellness within the built environment – into future projects.

Because we’re committed to getting better

3009 Post Oak Boulevard

Houston’s 3009 Post Oak Boulevard, among the projects for which we’ve been tracking carbon emissions.

At Skanska, we want to understand how every facet of the design and building process impacts the Earth and how that facility will perform over its lifecycle. Research plays an important part in this process. Recently, we’ve partnered with the World Green Building Council on a major global research effort to establish common ways of measuring health and productivity benefits arising from green buildings, and to provide best practice guidance on the types of green building features – such as increased daylighting and ventilation – that enhance them.

We’ve also worked with the New Buildings Institute and the International Living Future Institute to help the District of Columbia’s Department of Environment investigate the costs associated with upgrading existing buildings from LEED. We conceptually transformed three LEED v3 Platinum-designed buildings in the District to net zero energy, net zero water and Living Buildings. Our findings are published in: Net Zero and Living Building Challenge Financial Study: A Cost Comparison Report for Buildings in the District of Columbia.

On our commercial development projects, for which we control both the design and construction of the buildings, we require our teams to implement a new sustainable feature or strategy that has not been tried before. For example, we worked in partnership with the University of Houston to track carbon emissions at 3009 Post Oak Boulevard in Houston, which helped us understand the need for more carbon-efficient concrete mixes.

Though sustainable building practices have been an integral part of Skanska’s business for years, we’re seeking to expand beyond standard measurements of green building and pursue a holistic approach to sustainability within construction and development. With each project, Skanska aims to meet the needs of the world today without jeopardizing the needs of the world tomorrow.

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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