Vive le vert! Skanska’s commitment to sustainability runs deep

We’re not champions for green because of international agreements – although we’ve put our name to paper in support of them on more than one occasion. We’re not champions for green because it’s what the vast majority of our customers and employees want – though they do.

We’re champions for sustainability because sustainability is core to our values.  We are a construction and development company.  We like to say we build what matters.  The schools, bridges, homes, hospitals, office buildings, airports and countless other forms of social and civil infrastructure we build have immediate and lasting effects on the communities where we work.

Think back to 1995. There was no such thing as LEED®.  “Green” defined a color, not a high-performing building.  “Renewables” probably had more to do with magazine subscriptions than how your electricity was generated.

That same year, Skanska joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. A year later, the first of our business units achieved ISO 14001 certification (today, our entire business carries this environmental certification). The point is, Skanska is all in on sustainability and has been for more than two decades.

While we can build virtually anything, we endeavor to build the best, most sustainable projects.  That is not only the right thing to do; it is the most responsible business strategy supporting our investors, our customers and our communities. When we put our resources to work in support of research like the Living Building Financial Study, we lay the groundwork that, over the past 10 years, has seen deep green net-zero energy and water buildings go from dream, to reality. When we are good stewards of the environment surrounding our projects, we ensure that construction activities don’t foul the water that our communities depend on. When we develop projects to achieve LEED Gold certification or better, we help make sure our growing cities can accommodate more people and a larger built environment by conserving resources. If we help save the planet in the process, all the better. We’ll continue to push the boundaries to get to the next level of sustainable performance like we always have.

The Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music in Miami was awarded LEED Platinum earlier this year and features rooftop solar panels that provide about 16% of the building’s electricity needs.

Today, we join hundreds of like-minded businesses universities, municipal and state governments to say that Skanska’s commitment to sustainability isn’t affected by whether or not our federal government joins the chorus in support of the Paris Accord.

We will stay the course because regardless of the compelling science regarding global warming, it is smart to build buildings and infrastructure projects that pump less pollution into the atmosphere.

West Riverfront Park in Nashville achieved LEED Gold certification and features over one mile of multi-use greenway trails.

It is smart to build projects that are so efficient that they save tenants and owners millions of dollars in utility costs.

It is smart to build highways that are lit by lights that are a fraction of the cost to operate and safer to maintain.

It is smart to build schools and hospitals that use designs proven to improve educational and health outcomes.

Simply: It is always smart to seek new and innovative ways to deliver better value. And a lot of those happen to correlate with the greenest ways to deliver value, too.

Capitol Tower is the first Houston development to reach LEED v4 Platinum precertification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and was one of only three core and shell projects nationally pre-certified under the standard. The building will use 25 percent less energy than typical facilities.

Carbon is a useful common denominator in doing the math on delivering valuable assets that will endure over time.  Using carbon values, it is possible to tally the cost of dissimilar things like utilities, materials, transportation of materials and people, so the total life cycle benefit of different solutions can be compared.  Owners and project teams can then pick the smartest solution.  That is smart business, Paris Accord or not.

We look forward to exploring ways to drive a low-carbon economy and a more sustainable future with our partners and clients because it’s in our blood. We made our decision on the Paris Accord long before it was ratified and the decision was easy: we are all in.

Elizabeth Heider

Elizabeth Heider

Chief Sustainability Officer, Skanska USA

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  • Stacy Smedley

    Stacy Smedley June 7, 2017, 1:11 pm

    Thank you, Beth, for putting pen to paper and sharing Skanska’s perspective and commitment to sustainability and building what matters for people, place and the environment. Proud to be part of such a forward thinking, values based company.

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