Environmental protection in construction: 8 ways Skanska invests in our planet

According to a recent United Nations climate report, greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to increase. More than a century of burning fossil fuels and unsustainable use of natural resources have led to global warming of 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This has resulted in more frequent and extreme weather events that are increasingly impacting wildlife and people throughout the world.

The built environment accounts for nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions globally, with 11 percent embodied in construction materials and 28 percent stemming from building operations, so we understand our company’s and industry’s responsibility to reduce our impact on the environment.

Skanska is leading the charge and has set an ambitious target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 in our own operations and across our entire value chain. At the end of 2022, Skanska achieved 55 percent reduction of carbon emissions from our own operations (scope 1 and 2) since 2015.

As industry leaders in sustainable construction, we help customers deliver on their environmental and healthy building goals. Here are eight examples of how our company invests in our planet through our projects.

1. Wildlife protection

Lynnwood Link Extension

Lynnwood Link Extension
Location: Lynnwood, Washington

On our Lynnwood Link Extension (L300) project in Lynnwood, Washington, our team aims to protect local wildlife.

Our team has partnered with the Lynnwood Fish Hatchery and Environmental Education Center where they released 1,800 coho salmon smolt into Hall Lake, located near our project site.

The salmon migrate from Hall Lake into the Pacific Ocean, eventually making their way back up to McAleer Creek.

The activity allowed our team to have a better understanding of the fish and wildlife in the streams adjacent to our project and the impact they have on the ecosystem they’re working in.

Interstate-4 (I-4) Ultimate

Interstate-4 (I-4) Ultimate
Location: Orlando, Florida

Over the course of seven years, our teams rebuilt 21 miles of I-4 in Central Florida, known as the I-4 Ultimate project.

During construction of this infrastructure project, which earned Envision Platinum certification for its sustainable efforts, our teams were dedicated to wildlife protection and preservation.

SGL Constructors (SGL), the design-build team, relocated dozens of threatened Gopher tortoises from the project path to Florida Forever’s 4,000-acre conservatory in St. Cloud.

The relocation allowed the tortoises to thrive in a safer environment and for SGL and other contractors to continue construction.

Protected osprey nesting sites, cats and dogs were also relocated during construction. Our crews were trained on local species to improve their understanding of wildlife protection.

2. Air pollution reduction

Our Regional Connector Transit project.
Our Regional Connector Transit project.


Our Purple Line Westside Subway Extension Phase 1 project.
Our Purple Line Westside Subway Extension Phase 1 project.


Regional Connector and Westside Purple Line
Location: Los Angeles, California

Our teams at LA Metro’s Regional Connector Transit Project and Purple Line Subway Extension Project switched from petroleum diesel to renewable diesel in all equipment and vehicles. 

The effort resulted in less odor from tailpipe emissions, a reduced need to clean diesel particulate filters in vehicles, and a reduction in air pollution on both projects.

Renewable diesel is nearly chemically identical to petroleum diesel. It provides a 40 – 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gases from well-to-wheel emissions, and produces measurable reductions in tail-pipe emissions versus fossil-based diesel.

Fifth + Broadway

Fifth + Broadway
Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Before construction began on our Fifth + Broadway project, the former Nashville Convention Center site had to be demolished.

Instead of bringing in explosives to implode the building, the demolition was accomplished by manual and mechanical means. Our team demolished the interior of the building first to control dust, reduce air pollution, and ensure the safety of the public.

We recycled 15,408 tons of concrete and 3,875 tons of steel from the demolition of the Convention Center. This total weight is equal to nearly two Eiffel Towers.

3. Equitable access to the outdoors

East Midtown Greenway

East Midtown Greenway
Location: New York, New York

Our New York team is currently constructing the first phase of the East Midtown Waterfront Esplanade and East River Greenway in New York. The $166 million project involves the construction of a new in-water structure that serves as a public esplanade along FDR Drive, and a new public park space that will span approximately nine city blocks.

This project is part of a larger East River Waterfront esplanade that will eventually stretch for 22 blocks and fill a major gap in the 32-mile Manhattan Waterfront Greenway.

A few goals of this resilient project are to enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and account for sea-level rise in the New York area.

Cordilleras Health System Replacement Project

Cordilleras Health System Replacement Project
Location: Redwood City, California

Our San Francisco team is currently constructing the Cordilleras Health System Replacement Project—the first behavioral health facility in California, and the largest in the nation, to achieve net-zero energy.

The buildings are arrayed around a central open space with sheltered outdoor seating, community gardens and recreation areas, and will support administration, medical, dining, and maintenance services as well as other staff and visitor services.

Located in the wooded hillside south of San Francisco, Cordilleras incorporates onsite energy production and preserves the existing natural environment as a key element of the project to support therapeutic healing for residents.

4. Water conservation

Civic Park at Hemisfair

Civic Park at Hemisfair
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Water is a limited resource in San Antonio and its scarcity will only worsen in the coming years.

Our Texas team recently constructed Civic Park at Hemisfair, a $27 million world-class park project, that features a water re-use system.

The water for the park is sourced from nuisance groundwater from a sump pump at the adjacent convention center that collects groundwater from around the perimeter. Water that was previously pumped out and to a storm drain line instead is piped to a 40,608-gallon cistern buried 20 feet below ground, treated and released into the channel, to feed the springs and for use in irrigation.

University of Virginia Medical Center

University of Virginia Medical Center
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Our teams completed the expansion and renovation of the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center, integrating net-zero water design strategies.

Rainwater is collected on the center’s roof and filtered through a vortex solids separator that combines with condensation from the air handling unit in the underground 50,000-gallon water cistern—a process which saves 3.1 million gallons of potable water per year.

Treated rainwater is pumped out of the cistern through an ozone treatment package into an auto backwash filter and treated before being diverted to the adjacent campus chiller plant, which is tied into the UVA hospital.

5. Decarbonization and energy efficiency

Offshore Wind Staging Port at Portsmouth Marine Terminal
Photo credit: The Virginia Port Authority.


Offshore Wind Staging Port at Portsmouth Marine Terminal
Location: Portsmouth, Virginia

Wind power is a clean and renewable energy source that helps avoid 329 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually—equivalent to 74 million cars’ worth of emissions.

Our team is currently redeveloping approximately 72 acres of the 287-acre Portsmouth Marine Terminal for use as an offshore wind staging port.

The redevelopment of the marine terminal supports the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, which includes the construction of 180 offshore wind turbines to provide enough energy for 660,000 homes.  

1550 on the Green

1550 on the Green
Location: Houston, Texas

Our 1550 on the Green development in Houston is the first Skanska project in the state to use the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool to calculate emissions for the main construction materials.  

Low-carbon concrete was used in the foundations, superstructure, basement, and garage which reduced the environmental footprint of this project. 

The project’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems will bring in 30 percent more fresh air than a typical Class A office building. In addition, building systems will utilize bipolar ionization and air filtration to help reduce and eliminate the number of airborne pathogens. 

Read more about this project in our 2022 Annual and Sustainability Report

6. Healthy buildings

9000 Wilshire

9000 Wilshire
Location: Beverly Hills, California

Our Los Angeles teams are currently constructing our 9000 Wilshire office development, which has achieved WiredScore® Platinum, is pursuing Fitwel® certification, and once completed, will become the first LEED® Platinum office building in Beverly Hills.  

9000 Wilshire will incorporate touchless technology and feature MERV 13 filters to enhance indoor air quality and occupant health.

As part of the building’s sustainability program, the office building will include a state-of-the-art rainwater collection system which captures and stores 100 percent of the water needed for landscaping.

18 species of plants have been carefully designed into more than 1,000 square feet of green wall space to promote health and wellness for the occupants and absorb carbon.  

9000 Wilshire will feature an abundance of indoor/outdoor workspaces, over 50 operable windows and an art component with an augmented reality installation by California-based artist Heather Day.  

On-site solar panels will generate energy for the building, electric vehicle charging stations will be available on-site, and on average, 88.9 percent of the workspace in the building has direct views of the outdoors and access to natural daylight.  

3901 Fairfax Drive

3901 Fairfax Drive
Location: Arlington, Virginia

3901 Fairfax Drive, which recently topped out, will be the first WELL v2 Precertified new construction project in Northern Virginia. The project is also targeting LEED Gold, WELL Core v2 Gold and WiredScore Gold certifications.  

During the submittal phase of construction, our team used the EC3 tool to source and analyze building materials to reduce the embodied carbon on the project. This resulted in a 41 percent reduction in the embodied carbon on the concrete structure compared to traditional concrete construction.  

Once completed in 2024, 3901 Fairfax will feature a Dedicated Outside Air System (DOAS) mechanical system utilizing 100 percent outside air to ventilate the building, and exchanging all the air within the 200,000 square feet of tenant spaces about once every hour.

The building will also feature smart acoustical design, thermal monitoring, thoughtful lighting controls and support an active lifestyle to promote a healthy circadian rhythm.  

Designed with the tenant’s health and well-being in mind, the property’s amenities will include a modern fitness facility, bike room with bike wash and repair station, and more than 12,000 square feet of outdoor space across a rooftop terrace, a plaza, and private outdoor terraces.

7. Waste reduction and recycling

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B
Location: Queens, New York

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B is the first airport project in the world to achieve LEED V4 Gold certification. This project includes a mix of sustainable strategies that allowed it to achieve this prestigious certification, including waste reduction.

In demolishing existing structures and building the new Terminal B and adjacent facilities, our team went to great lengths to reduce waste and reuse and recycle materials to minimize the project’s environmental footprint.

During the demolition of the original Terminal B parking garage, our team recycled 21,604 tons of concrete from the demolition of the original parking structure. Of this recycled concrete, 2,475 tons—roughly five million pounds—were reused on the adjacent job site.

Overall, 99 percent of debris removed from the old parking garage was recycled.

Nice-Middleton Bridge

Nice-Middleton Bridge
Location: Dahlgren, Virginia and Newburg, Maryland

Our team recently delivered the new Nice-Middleton bridge, which was built adjacent to the old bridge span. Now our team is decommissioning the original bridge.

Concrete from the demolished bridge will be loaded onto a barge and transported to an artificial reef site, which provides habitat and shelter for fish and invertebrates, creating sanctuaries for diverse marine life.

In total, approximately 9,500 tons of old bridge materials will be used to create new and healthy areas for marine habitat.

Artificial reefs can provide various benefits to the environment and oceans by increasing fishing and diving opportunities for the public; reducing the amount of large objects in landfills; and creating a protective barrier around the coast to lessen the impact of storm damage.

100 percent of the steel from the bridge will be recycled.

8. Biophilia

Portland International Airport Main Terminal
Photo credit: Courtesy of Port of Portland/ZGF


Portland International Airport Main Terminal
Location: Portland, Oregon

Our Portland team and joint venture partner, Hoffman Construction, are working on the Portland International Airport’s Terminal Core Redevelopment Project, which will double the size of the current terminal and feature a new 9-acre wood roof system over the area. The project is scheduled for completion in 2025.

Utilizing Biophilic design, the terminal will introduce nature and natural elements into the interior, with columns inspired by towering Douglas firs and plant life throughout the space. Living trees will shade common areas and form a mini greenway in the core of the airport.

The Eight

The Eight
Location: Bellevue, Washington

Our teams in Washington are currently developing and building The Eight—a 26-story, Class A+ office tower that will feature 11,000 square-feet of ground-level retail as well as a stand-alone mass timber retail pavilion and plaza landscaped with native Pacific Northwest plants.

The project is pursuing LEED Platinum certification and Salmon Safe certification.  

The Eight will deliver a rich tenant experience, with landscaped decks at level two and on the rooftop, seven alternating indoor/outdoor decks, event and conference space, as well as modern amenities like a lounge and fitness center.  

View Smart Windows will be a part of a suite of tenant-focused amenities. These windows use artificial intelligence to automatically adjust in response to outdoor conditions, controlling heat and glare and eliminating the need for blinds.

A recent study found that people working in rooms with View Smart Windows experienced half as many headaches, slept 37 minutes longer each night, and performed 42 percent better on cognitive tests compared to those working in rooms with standard windows and blinds.

Learn more about Skanska’s commitment to sustainability here.