A different framework
Buildings alone, though, aren’t going to make a more sustainable world. If you drive a Prius like a Maserati, it won’t get the best possible mileage. The same is true for buildings. Building operation, maintenance and occupant behavior can keep buildings from meeting their performance potential. How we operate buildings – and how we go about building – matters.
Yet, every year, we see “top green designer and contractor” lists set up as though certified buildings alone are the answer. It’s time to examine a broader set of factors. Our industry does a lot more than build. We create jobs. We are market innovators with the expertise to deliver construction solutions that support our client’s business objectives.
The building industry has the potential to accelerate the journey toward a more sustainable future. We have the ability to create shared value in communities, helping bolster small business and keeping construction dollars in the places where the projects are. Long term, that’s helping support a local business community. Building sustainably also means keeping our workers safe and working in an ethical manner. It means operating responsibly and transparently.
Finally, we must be innovative and beneficially disruptive, to take on new challenges and, in so doing, advance the market. Even deeper green than LEED Platinum, Living Buildings demand that we collaborate with the design team to identify and provide materials that reveal their health and environmental impacts, improving building performance, reducing the potential for future asbestos-type risk and positively affecting the supply chain. We participate in research that can inform our client’s decisions. For example, we now know that the greenest building may be the one you don’t have to build, but one you retrofit. Imagine what we can do when it comes to community-scale solutions like District Energy?
It’s up to us to be agents of change. The result won’t just be a better construction industry. It will be a more sustainable world.
Elizabeth Heider is the Senior Vice President of Skanska USA Building.
Photo credit Diana Rothery.