A Week to Celebrate Green

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.


Los Angeles’ Expo Line light-rail extension – which a Skanska-led joint venture designed and built – is the first light rail project to be certified under Envision, a sustainable infrastructure rating system gaining in popularity in the U.S. The 10.6-km (6.6-mile) extension was certified at Envision’s highest level, Platinum. Credit: Skanska USA.

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.”


The I-4 Ultimate public-private partnership (PPP) project in Orlando, Florida, is targeting Envision Platinum. Skanska’s consortium is responsible for financing, design, construction, operations and maintenance on this 34 km (21 mile) highway widening and reconstruction project. Credit: Skanska USA.

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.

Deep commitment

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.

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/.


We’re a little bit Country…

We love Building What Matters – whether that’s critical infrastructure, hospitals and schools or entertainment venues that enrich local communities.

We’re proud to have played a role in the construction of the Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, TN, which the Academy of Country Music has honored with an ACM Industry Award for Venue of the Year, Medium Capacity, and cited as a “venue which contributes so much to the artistry, success and longevity of country music.” The ACM Awards will be broadcast this weekend.

As the only outdoor amphitheater in the United States to achieve a LEED Gold Certification, the venue is located inside of the redeveloped 11-acre Riverfront Park, a vibrant cultural space in the heart of downtown Nashville.

The park was conceived with sustainability in mind: diverting 88 percent of construction waste from landfill and using 30 percent less potable water than the LEED baseline. Renewable energy is generated on-site through a geothermal heating and cooling system, while a rainwater harvesting system helps recycle water for irrigation.

To learn more about the park’s sustainable redevelopment, check out our Riverfront Park infographic:

2016 INFOGRAPHIC-AscendAmphitheater



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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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

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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Unlikely partners in green building


News broke yesterday that the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Chemistry Council will be working together to improve LEED, the foremost green building certification system. That’s a partnership that personally matters a lot to me.

Creating buildings that have minimal environmental impacts – and that even seek to improve the health of those living and working inside – requires more than just inspired clients, designers and builders. Doing so also requires manufacturers that are committed to producing harm-free building materials.

But as you may recall, for too long the chemistry council had been working against LEED, believing that material transparency requirements in the recent LEED version 4 might result in fewer chemicals used in buildings. Last year, a group affiliated with the ACC – and supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – proposed language that would effectively ban the use of LEED in federal buildings, unless certain chemical-related LEED provisions were removed.

What a difference a year makes. In this new partnership, LEED will benefit from the materials expertise of ACC and its member companies. We believe this has the potential to be transformational. And it’s much more than we hoped for last year, when Skanska publicly pulled out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest its support of the chemistry council’s activities.

That powerful chemical companies with their sizeable research and development budgets are working for LEED, rather than against, is tremendous. When companies like those get behind green, it should really propel green building materials forward – and help others see that doing what’s good for a sustainable future is generally good business.

The USGBC refers to LEED as a big tent in which all are welcome. There’s no better example of that than this partnership.

Michael McNally

Michael McNally

President and CEO, Skanska USA

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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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Teaching about sustainability and LEED in Florida

Have you ever really thought about the impact buildings have on our surroundings? Residential and commercial buildings account for 39 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. Millions of tons of construction-related waste ends up in landfills each year. And because buildings have long-life spans, decisions about how sustainable their construction and operational systems are have a profound impact on the environment. Making the right decisions is especially important when, over the next 20 years, more than three-quarters of America’s building stock will be renovated or built.

Educating students about sustainable construction and engineering is tantamount to a greener planet. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to teach an undergraduate-level green building class at Miami’s Florida International University with my Skanska colleague, Project Manager Vincent Collins.

The class’ focus was on how there can be – and should be – green aspects to every part of design and construction. Examples of this include how the building is oriented on a site, what systems and materials are selected, and how water and other resources might be conserved during construction itself. Vincent used a Skanska project, the City of Miami Gardens’ Municipal Complex, to illustrate the process of building to LEED Platinum standards.

One of the most important aspects of green building that the class touched on was the concept of lifecycle analysis. This means making decisions that not only consider the first cost of construction, but also the cost over years of the building in operation. After all, the expenses of lighting, heating, cooling and otherwise operating a building over decades typically adds up to more than it cost to build the facility itself! This also includes planning for ways to efficiently utilize a building even when new conditions arise later in its lifetime, and finding materials that can be easily recycled or re-used.

For the Municipal Complex, features designed to conserve resources to help lower future operating costs include water-saving elements such as rainwater harvesting and native landscaping, as well as such energy-saving solutions as daylighting, highly efficient mechanical systems and photovoltaics. In choosing to include these elements, we aim to push this project toward Deep Green.

Overall, the class was a huge success, a reflection of not only our team’s expertise, but also of the enthusiasm of the students. After the class, Professor Ali Mostafavi shared his student’s reactions and thanks via Twitter:


For more information on Skanska’s approach to sustainability check out our Core Values, here.

This post was written by Jose Cortes, Skanska USA vice president – business development and Vincent Collins, Skanska USA project manager.

Jose Cortes

Jose Cortes

Skanska USA vice president, business development

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“You can build anything green”

At the Elizabeth River Tunnels project in Virginia, our SKW Constructors joint venture is inspired to build green by the beautiful river that’s the basis of our project, and how that waterway impacts our lives. Some of my colleagues fish in these waters, others enjoy different water-based activities, and we all enjoy the river views. So it’s important to us on a personal level to find environmentally friendly ways to build our project. And we’re honored that outside groups are starting to recognize our efforts.

You can build anything green, but our industry hasn’t prioritized sustainability on civil projects the way it has with buildings. For more than a decade, the U.S. Green Building Council has been advocating LEED to improve buildings’ environmental performance. Yet it’s only recently that the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system was introduced to provide a similar type of focus for civil projects. Still, with civil construction, if you dig a little bit, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to make a difference environmentally.

Midtown Tunnel, second tunnel construction. Portsmouth side.

Our joint venture’s Elizabeth River Tunnels project in Virginia has prioritized building green.

On this project, among the greener ways of working being utilized by the Skanska, Kiewit and Weeks Marine team is a self-contained, concrete chute wash-out system.  Following a concrete pour, these units allow concrete trucks to wash their chutes in a system that contains all the concrete waste and wash water. The units then filter the wash water, allowing it to be recycled and reused in the chute washing process. This system can save approximately $72,700 for every 100 pours. As another example of how going green often saves money, we’ve found that the environmentally friendly aerosol can puncturing system we’ve employed not only reduces the amount of hazardous waste shipped offsite, but also saves more than $30,000 for every 4,200 cans punctured. And rather than paying high fees to haul lead-contaminated soil offsite to dispose of it as hazardous waste, we’re safely remediating that soil onsite.

Just for fun, our team does team-building activities like planting wildlife gardens, celebrating Earth Day and participating annually in the Clean the Bay Day.

Last month, the SKW team was thrilled to learn that our above-and-beyond environmental approach enabled Elizabeth River Tunnels to become the first construction project approved for the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program. Even more significantly, we were approved at the highest level – Extraordinary Environmental Enterprise (E-4). The 14-year-old program drives environmental excellence through a partnership approach between the Commonwealth and private organizations. It’s based on ISO 14001 environmental management standards, to which Skanska is certified; ISO 14001 provides us with a roadmap to take all projects to a higher level of environmental conservation

Our team hopes that our legacy from this project only starts with improved transportation. We’re also building the local workforce, supporting local businesses, and we hope to leave the environment in better condition than it was when we got here.  And finally, we want our work at the Elizabeth River Tunnels project to set the standard as the first of many construction projects recognized by this environmental program.

Carissa Agnese

Carissa Agnese

Skanska USA Environmental Manager

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Increase sustainability to boost profits

With an ongoing emphasis being placed on sustainability, it’s good to know the facts before shying away from potentially higher upfront cost premiums. In Skanska’s current projects, we are using resources that are better for the environment while providing a net cost savings in as few as three years.

Skanska’s Jimmy Mitchell, senior mechanical estimator and LEED expert, was recently featured on the Commercial Real Estate radio show, offering insight on sustainability and how it impacts profits. Here are three tactics you can use to increase sustainability while decreasing costs:


Jimmy Mitchell

A net zero policy can significantly reduce water and energy bills

A net-zero energy building is one where the amount of energy used by the building is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. For a non-profit organization or college campus, Mitchell says in many cases it makes sense to invest upfront in order to significantly decrease water and energy bills over a significantly longer period of time.  For high-density districts, Mitchell advises exploring the benefits of scaling to an area-wide system for systems like chilled water.

Bertschi School

The Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition

The Skanska-built Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle is net-zero water and energy, and it has been certified under the rigorous Living Building Challenge program. Net zero is becoming more popular, especially for institutions that wish to remain in their buildings for several years. Mitchell said net zero is a trend that will continue to gain traction and lower in cost to achieve.

You don’t have to rebuild to make a difference

If net zero or LEED certification is not in your short-term budget, there are still small improvements you can make to significantly reduce your energy consumption. Installing LED lighting is an easy way to cut costs, as LED’s initial costs are becoming much more affordable. And when you factor in a power cost of one-eighth the expense of regular lighting, LEDs often pay for themselves very early in their lifecycles.

For office buildings, plug load outlets can be installed, which shut off plugged-in appliances at night. This automatic tool can help you save on power bills. In the case of more in-depth renovations, such as replacing mechanical air handling units in older buildings, utility bills can be decreased by as much as 50 percent post-renovation.

Tactics like these also remove a variable that can limit green cost savings: occupant behavior. Efficient lighting fixtures and off-hour conservation can save money in ways aligned with existing behaviors.

Paybacks can happen in as little as three years

Most people can see the fruits of their investments with a three- to seven-year payback for many sustainable improvements, and a 20-year payback for geothermal or solar implementation – a relatively short timeframe for a building intended to last 50 to 100 years.


We renovated our flagship office in the Empire State Building to meet LEED Platinum certification.

Skanska USA recently renovated our flagship office on the Empire State Building’s 32nd floor. Raised access flooring is one of the highlights of the space, which allows for better air control by cooling the bottom five- to six feet of the floor. A 4.7 percent premium was spent to go LEED Platinum in the space, but among the results was that electricity use decreased 57 percent. The office saw its investment paid back in less than five years.

By implementing these sustainable improvements, you can feel good about being a part of the green building initiative while enjoying the costs savings that these efforts can provide.

“In the future of performance contracting, if you reduce energy and reduce costs, you make more money,” Mitchell said. “Efficiency drives profits.”



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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Amid a week of disappointing environmental news, some bright spots

Everything each of us does depends on the continued health of our planet. Unfortunately, the headlines from this past week indicate that our planet’s climate is changing in ways that aren’t for the best: scientists are predicting rising seas from “unavoidable” polar melt that will impact coastal cities, and a report by a government-funded research group warned of U.S. national security risks from higher sea levels, increased droughts and other climate-induced changes.

Even worse, Congress recently has been unable to act to protect our environment. Just this week, the bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act died in the Senate, despite what news reports say was widespread bipartisan support – at least until the end. This common-sense measure – introduced by Senators Rob Portman and Jeanne Shaheen – involved common-sense provisions to curtail energy usage, such as strengthened building energy codes and incentives for the purchase of energy-efficient equipment. And such states as Ohio and Louisiana are fighting the LEED rating system that also works to improve building energy efficiency. All this at a time when simple population growth would seem to indicate that conservation is our best way to ensure a sustainable future for generations. 

Deep Green Society

Fortunately, there’s good reason to be optimistic about helping the Earth and lowering energy use, thanks to the efforts of the private sector and other states. Despite attempts to ban or weaken it, LEED is becoming more and more an integral part of the world’s buildings. Five buildings have achieved full certification under the stringent Living Building Challenge green building rating system, which requires net zero energy and water use. (Among these is the Skanska-built Bertschi School Science Classroom Addition in Seattle.) Next week, progressive-minded green thinkers will gather in my hometown of Portland, Ore., for the Living Future unConference to help green building continue to move forward.

Some states are realizing that acting on climate and energy can’t wait. Last year, the leaders of British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington joined together to form the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, a major effort to combat climate change and promote clean energy. And this month, Skanska became the first company to sign on to the Oregon Climate Leadership Declaration, an effort to reduce fossil fuel use while investing in homegrown resources and technologies that create jobs for Oregonians.

Too often the discussion about environmental practices becomes divisive – a debate over climate change and cap-and-trade. This is counterproductive. If you like lower energy bills, you have all the reason you need to support using less energy. If you believe a strong economy comes from growth, you have all the belief you need to support water conservation for, without enough water, there can be no growth.

So why take a side when you can simply take action? There’s much work to be done developing the technology, the policies and the support for a green, economically-sound future that would benefit us all. We’d appreciate your help.

Steve Clem

Steve Clem

Skanska USA Vice president of preconstruction

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