Source: Cincinnati.com: Date April 22, 2020
Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans attended events across the country to support environmental reform. This first "Earth Day" is credited with launching the modern environmental movement in the United States. At Skanska, we believe in building for a better society, which includes constructing sustainable, resilient facilities such as schools, offices, hospitals, hotels, sports venues and aviation facilities that will benefit generations to come.
While our country – and our world – have come a long way since 1970, we still have a long way to go. Last year, the world’s annual carbon emissions reached an all-time high, and while we are seeing a temporary reduction in emissions because of COVID-related travel bans, these emissions will likely resume their climb once this pandemic is resolved.
President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon plant a tree on the White House South Lawn to recognize the first Earth Day in 1970. (Photo: Provided/White House)
The good news is that Greater Cincinnati is recognized as a national leader in environmental sustainability. In 2018, personal finance website Wallet Hub recognized Cincinnati as the "greenest" city in Ohio and one of the greenest in the country. In 2017 and 2018, Site Selection Magazine ranked our region the best in the country for sustainable development; we ranked second last year.
Our community is fortunate that the city of Cincinnati has created an Office of Environment and Sustainability, and we have Green Umbrella, the regional nonprofit alliance with more than 200 member organizations whose mission is to create a vibrant and sustainable region.
A cornerstone of sustainability efforts for both of these organizations was the creation of the Cincinnati 2030 District. It consists of regional property owners, developers and commercial tenants working together to create a network of healthy, high-performing buildings by reducing the energy use, water consumption and transportation emissions in these buildings by 50% by the year 2030.
Skanska’s Cincinnati office is proud to be a member of the Cincinnati 2030 District because it is consistent with our long-term commitment to environmental sustainability, including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building practices.
In the Tristate, Skanska has constructed seven LEED Gold certified projects – the FBI Cincinnati Field Office in Kenwood, University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics Renovation and Expansion, three elementary schools for Northwest Local School District and two of Dayton Metro Library’s facilities.
We’ve also built six LEED Silver certified projects, including the Teachers Complex renovation at the University of Cincinnati, Miami Valley Hospital’s Southeast Addition, and new buildings for Fairfield City Schools. Skanska is currently seeking LEED certification for our renovation of UC’s Fifth Third Arena, the upcoming UC College of Law renovation, and several new school buildings for Carlisle Local Schools, Winton Woods City Schools, Southwest Local Schools and Little Miami Schools.
As a signatory to the Paris Climate Accord, Skanska has set aggressive global emissions-reduction goals. Assessments of a building’s emissions and life-cycle costs traditionally focus on energy efficiency, the operational carbon of a structure. Because of a lack of data or data too complex to evaluate, few tools have been available to benchmark the "embodied" carbon of a building, which reduces the carbon footprint of a structure even before it becomes operational.
To address this problem, Skanska and its industry partners created the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator tool, an open-source platform that calculates embodied carbon emissions of building materials. Launched in September 2019, this tool allows developers and designers to make carbon-smart choices during the material-specifications and procurement process.
In addition, Skanska and the U.S. Green Building Council created Insight, another tool that allows designers and developers to analyze the design attributes of LEED-certified building in specific geographic regions that allows them to adopt smart and practical sustainability strategies.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this month, we need to continue to develop innovative solutions to achieve the important goal of environmental sustainability – both in our community and throughout the world.
Chris Hopper is executive vice president and general manager of the Cincinnati office of Skanska USA.
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