Measure and manage
For carbon footprinting, we are increasing the number of projects on which we track the carbon emissions of construction. We track this across three categories: embodied carbon of the materials we use, carbon emitted both in transporting people and supplies to and from the job sites, and the energy used during construction. This isn’t something our clients have asked us to do, but we need to do it to in order to benchmark and reduce construction-phase carbon emissions.
Besides reducing our environmental footprint, we’re finding that it makes good business sense to track carbon. For example, Skanska’s civil group is tracking carbon on some projects in the western U.S. For them, releasing less carbon means using less energy and materials, increasing efficiency and job savings.
These GSIs supplement another system that can affect the methods we use to work: our ISO 14001 environmental management system certification. ISO 14001 is a global standard for environmental management systems. It ensures regulatory compliance and that environmental impacts are being measured and reduced. Our ISO 14001 program tracks 10 elements, including resource and waste management, soil and erosion control, hazardous materials and noise and vibration.
ISO 14001 is embedded into how all our projects operate. Through this, our employees are informed of and connected to the Green Strategic Indicators. For our certification, we undergo annual third-party audits to ensure that we are doing what we say we do 100 percent of the time on all our projects.
By tracking environmental impacts through these methods, we can contribute to a better overall measurement of which contractors are truly working green – and which are only building it for their clients.
Courtney Lorenz is the Director of Environmental Management for Skanska USA Building.