Diversity Comes in Many Forms

Today marks the start of Skanska USA’s annual “Diversity & Inclusion Week” (Oct 17-21) when we celebrate the valuable differences and perspectives of our employees that makes us a stronger company. As part of the week, we also take time to recognize our business partners that help us be a part of creating stronger communities in the areas of the country where we work.

This year’s D&I Week theme is “Find Your Why,” which focuses on exploring different ways that we can make our workplaces and communities more inclusive.

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We have exceptional coworkers and business partners from all walks of life, backgrounds and experiences. When we have a diversity of perspectives, that’s when our creativity and ingenuity really get going and we’re able to offer our customers the best solutions.

Whether we’re working to acknowledge our own personal biases or mentoring the next generation of leaders, Skanska believes it is important for each of us to recognize how Diversity & Inclusion both inside and outside the workplace makes us stronger.

“We all have personal biases and they can be difficult to see past – if we see them at all,” says Mel Jones, national Director of Diversity & Inclusion. “Focusing on this issue helps us learn how to leverage our diversity to make smart decisions that can enhance and grow our company, including from a business perspective.”

As part of this week, Skanska will also launch the Community Giveback Challenge around the country. In local markets where we operate, our teams will be organizing service projects (like the ones pictured here), food and clothing drives and more to strengthen our communities.

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Follow us on facebook, twitter and Instagram for more on our Diversity & Inclusion Week activities.

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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Connecting with the Community at 1350 Boylston

When Skanska crews mobilized for work on the 1350 Boylston Street project in Boston, MA, one of the first things they did was go next door to McKinley Prep, a local high school, to introduce themselves as the new neighbors for a couple of years.

What they didn’t expect to find was a student body in need of a helping hand.

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Skanska USA President & CEO Rich Cavallaro (left) visits with some of the workers at 1350 Boylston and the students who painted the mural at the left.

Senior Project Superintendent Jim McDonald and the team discovered some of the kids lacked winter coats (they could be seen walking to and from school in freezing temperatures) and some got their only meal of the day when they were in school. McDonald says it was common to see teachers making trips to the local supermarket with groceries in tow; teachers told crewmembers they would buy breakfast and lunch for kids who needed it.

“We started taking up collections on the jobsite to buy the school gift cards for things they needed” says McDonald. “We wanted to help in any way we could.”

The students responded to the teams’ generosity by delivering handwritten thank you cards and started to spend more and more time around the job site chatting about the project. Slowly an idea to get the kids involved in an arts project on the site took shape.

The 1350 Boylston project is a Skanska Commercial Development project – our fifth in Boston and our second multifamily development. It’s also in the heart of the Fenway district.

With the jobsite perimeter fence bordering the school property McDonald and the “three Marks” – Terrien, MacIsaac, and Contrado – invited the students to decorate it. The kids used their imaginations, taking photos of some of the workers on site and making silhouette stencils that were painted on the plywood sheathing surrounding a Skanska logo in the center.

During a Safety Week 2016 visit to the site, Skanska USA President & CEO Rich Cavallaro took the time to visit with kids and snap a few pictures in front of their artwork.

“Rich’s visit had a special impact on the kids and some of them have become interested in careers in construction,” says McDonald. “When we first mobilized here the plan was to work with the school in the hopes of using their parking lot to benefit our job. What we found out was that they needed our help more than we needed theirs. Stepping up to do the right thing is part of who we are, and we’re glad we can lend them a hand.”

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Jim “Jimmy Mac” McDonald, second from left, with the McKinley Prep students and Skanska crew members, in front of the mural in Boston.

Read more about the project in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.

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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A Seaport Renaissance in Boston

The news this week that Skanska USA has successfully sold our 101 Seaport property in Boston is reason for celebration.

We are understandably excited that we were able to successfully complete the project, a 17-story, 440,000-square-foot LEED® Platinum office building in the Seaport District in record time.

What truly excites us is what this building represents – our desire to build projects with purpose – in this case, creating a jewel in a Boston neighborhood that is springing back to new life.

101 Seaport

Our unique business model allows us to develop, finance, and construct properties that make significant contributions to the cities in which they are built. And so we feel strongly that the buildings we create should maximize open space, offer amenities that contribute to a healthy work-life balance, and are stocked with features including better views and increased daylighting, which have been shown to improve employee collaboration and productivity. All of these elements – thoughtfully and intentionally designed into the project – are investments in the future of the people who will work in the building, and of the larger community to which the building contributes and helps to grow.

101 Seaport has truly been a catalyst for the transformation of the neighborhood – and it is just the beginning. Our other projects in Boston include 121 Seaport, a neighboring office tower with ground-floor retail targeting LEED® Platinum currently under construction; and Watermark Seaport, a recently opened luxury residential tower with ground-floor retail which Skanska developed in partnership with Twining Properties. When completed, Skanska’s developments along Seaport Boulevard will make up the most sustainable row of office and residential buildings in Boston history.

We are using that same philosophy to transform the workplaces of tomorrow across the country in our home markets of Houston, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Building projects with purpose is what Skanska is all about.

For more information about our Commercial Development Projects, visit us at www.usa.skanska.com/Business-Units/Commercial_Development/.

 

Building people while connecting communities

Living in southeast Washington, D.C. – not far from the U.S. Capitol but a world apart – I’d ride the bus overlooking the 11th Street Bridge every day to and from my job as a crew foreman for D.C.’s Department of Public Works. As a native Washingtonian, I was proud to be helping maintain this great city. But it also felt like it was just a job – I would look forward to getting off work. It didn’t have the goal-driven atmosphere and rewarding happiness I really wanted.

And then – as happened to millions of others in our nation – unemployment struck. In February 2011, I was laid off during a department-wide budget cut. I didn’t know what I’d do next. In the tough economy, I could have easily added to the already high unemployment rate in my Ward 8 neighborhood. But I thought back to those bus trips when I looked out at the work being done by the Skanska joint venture erecting the replacement spans for the 11th Street Corridor Design-Build Project. I was always amazed to see so much equipment moving about each day, individual units that worked together as a team.

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The 11th Street Bridges and Interchange

I decided I wanted to be part of that project. So, I walked into the project office and inquired about a job as a laborer. I was interviewed, and soon after I was hired. I was both honored and excited.

A few months after joining the project, my hard work earned me the chance to advance: I was asked to join the project’s on-the-job training program. This program aims to help D.C. residents contribute to the project while advancing their careers. To graduate, I needed to complete 1,040 hours of on-site training while working. Many people don’t graduate from the program because after obtaining employment on the project, they become complacent and no longer give full attention to their duties. I never lost focus on my quest to graduate, having been inspired by my Skanska family of goal-oriented team members. The training was extremely challenging, yet I completed those hours faster than anyone else. I wanted to be on this project, surrounded by winners.

As the first phase of the bridge was ending in the summer of 2012, I was blessed to be offered another opportunity – to work in the project office as an administrative assistant. I’ve stepped up to handling the payroll for this project’s 80 hourly workers, and now I’m helping process invoices too. I keep asking for and receiving more responsibility. In April, I was privileged to co-chair the 11th Street project’s Diversity and Inclusion Week committee.

My success has only been possible because of the support and encouragement from leaders on the 11th Street project. They have placed a lot of responsibility and trust in me, and I consider myself one of the luckiest men in the world. I love what I do, I love working with my colleagues and I love Skanska!


Richard LaFontant

Richard LaFontant

Administrative assistant

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Constructing in live data centers

Misson Control

Data centers are the invisible engines of modern life: Every time you post on Facebook, swipe a credit card or send an email, powerful computers housed in data centers make that transaction possible. Because the work done inside these centers is so indispensable to modern life, these facilities can’t be taken out of service when being upgraded or renovated.

Imagine if Google wasn’t available when you wanted to do a search – that’s why it’s imperative that there’s no unplanned downtime, as that would cost clients revenue and reputation. Ensuring such uninterrupted operation presents significant challenges to the construction teams, and makes them even more complicated than building new data centers.

Here are four of the top challenges to working in live data centers:

1) Plan and plan some more: Intense planning is the foundation for successfully operating in live data center environments. Step-by-step methods of procedures must be developed that include specific timelines, and contingency plans for a variety of scenarios need to be developed. All plans need to be approved by various stakeholders, a process that may take weeks. Because of the tight sequence of work that must be done, lean production processes – as originated by Toyota in its auto manufacturing operations – may be used to maximize efficiency and quality. Because of all these considerations, construction activities are typically planned months in advance.

2) Limited work windows: Forget about being able to work on the project uninterrupted from start to finish. Significant work can only be done during periods of time specified by the owner of the facility or of the computer servers located inside. Time that’s off limits may stretch up to a third of the year, and may include the winter holiday season for retailers and, for financial clients, the spring tax season and the end of each quarter. During these periods the only work that may typically be done involves activities – such as painting and installing electrical conduit – that pose no risk on ongoing operations. When work is allowed, construction teams typically need to maximize that opportunity by working multiple shifts per day and on weekends.

3) Don’t rely on as-built documents: To tap into existing electrical and mechanical systems, you have to know what’s there and how it’s all integrated together. However, the answer to that puzzle likely doesn’t lie in the as-built drawings and other information that describe the existing facility. This is because maintenance staffers have likely changed and modified systems over the years but haven’t properly updated the drawings. (And much of the existing stock of data centers hasn’t been modeled with building information modeling (BIM)).

Because data centers are so critical, you need to confirm that information on the existing facility is correct. Means of achieving that assurance include physically tracing electrical feeders and other systems to see where and how they connect.

4) Minimizing impacts: Controlled indoor conditions are essential to proper data center operation. This means that construction activities can’t impact that environment. Work areas must be sealed with plastic to contain dust; the temperature of the air must be constantly monitored; and protective booties over footwear may need to be worn. On one of Skanska’s current live data center projects that involve a raised floor, we can’t remove more than six floor tiles at a time so as to not impact the under-floor air pressure

Skanska USA

Jack Koch

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Ian Miles

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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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A diversity of success

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As this picture of our global Infrastructure Development team shows, Skanska recognizes that a diverse and inclusive environment is key to providing our clients with the best solutions.

Step into Skanska USA’s infrastructure development headquarters near Washington, D.C., and this business unit’s extensive diversity quickly becomes apparent. Flags from different home countries are fastened to work station walls, and a variety of accents fill the air. Some colleagues speak multiple languages.

Of Skanska’s 27 employees here, nine different nationalities are represented and 30 percent of the employees are female. This group – which develops public-private partnership (PPP) solutions for infrastructure needs that include highways and tunnels – relies on this diversity to develop the best solutions for clients, drawing on employees’ global worldviews and experiences.

“We have a really healthy mix of race, gender, ethnicity and backgrounds – that’s exactly what we want,” said Karl Reichelt, the Skanska executive vice president who heads this group. “It really makes for an excellent team when we all come from different perspectives.”

This diversity stems from the nature by which our infrastructure development group operates. The world of public-private partnerships is quite broad, with experts needed from more fields than just construction, including finance, legal and development. Because of this need, this unit draws from a wider talent pool. And with PPPs more common in other parts of the world than the U.S., it also recruits globally from other Skanska operations.

“If you want to be innovative, you have to be diverse,” said Chris Guthkelch, a Skanska project director who hails from Britain. “We need to reflect the world in which we live.”

An example of how such diversity and collaboration is helping Skanska meet our clients’ needs is the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels PPP project in southeastern Virginia. Winning this project required tapping expertise from across the Skanska enterprise, including tunneling experts from Norway, additional development experts from Sweden and toll road expertise from Latin America. Establishing partnerships with the local Virginia community was also critical.

Reichelt said when he joined Skanska in 2006, the team consisted of just a handful of people. He’s proud that our infrastructure development unit has grown into such a diverse team.

“That’s what we wanted to do because we knew it would be good for our business and good for our team,” Reichelt said.

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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Building a bridge? Here’s a checklist for maximizing its benefits

Case Study: Involving the community

Location: Cooper River Bridge, South Carolina

Challenges:

1) Construct the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America in a way that maximizes the benefit to surrounding communities and the local economy, while protecting and enhancing wetland environments.

2) Remove two obsolete bridges and erect a 2.5-mile, eight-lane bridge, and avoid disturbing the environmentally sensitive area.

Bridge constrcution

photo credit: bobosh_t via photopin cc

How do you make the most of that situation?

1. Select a design that will last a century.

2. Use models and simulations to evaluate the effects of design options on the ecosystem of the Charleston estuary.

3. Apply the lessons learned from similar projects, such as the Öresund Bridge – the 10-mile road and rail tunnel/bridge connecting Denmark and Sweden. Since the Öresund Bridge project is very similar, utilize members of its project team to draw on their experience.

4. Starting early in the process, establish close cooperation with local authorities and organizations to maximize the utility of the bridge, and quickly address social and environmental issues before they turn into difficulties. Encourage dialog with local participants, including government officials, organizations and residents. Maintain this dialog throughout the construction process.

5. Based on the dialog, select diamond-shaped towers from among several options and add a pedestrian walkway and bicycle lanes to the bridge.

6. Maximize the use of local construction workers and suppliers.

7. Create task forces across agency borders to advise on particular issues. For example, have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers monitor the demolition of the old bridges, and ensure that the wetlands are protected and enhanced by involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

8. Choose lighting that minimizes impact on sea turtles and migratory birds.

9. Restore wetlands. Reuse material from the demolished bridges to create new, artificial reefs along the coast.

10. To avoid erosion, reforest the construction site as soon as possible.

 

Peo Halvarsson

Peo Halvarsson

Skanska USA Project Executive

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Introducing the Skanska USA Blog

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Welcome to the Skanska USA Blog! Skanska has seen tremendous growth since Rudolf Fredrik Berg founded “AB Skanska Cementgjuteriet” in Sweden in 1887. Much of that growth and success can be attributed to Skanska’s adherence to the Five Zeros, our values expressed as five targets: zero loss-making projects, zero environmental incidents, zero accidents, zero ethical breaches and zero defects. The Skanska USA blog will help bring to light these Five Zeros through insights from Skanska leaders, stories and images from our project sites, and examples of best practices in both construction and development. From safety best practices to innovations in construction to the latest in green technologies, this blog will dig into Skanska’s true foundation—our people. We encourage you to read, share and comment on all that you find here.

Michael McNally

Michael McNally

President and CEO, Skanska USA

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