”Development could be propelled further in procurements”

Skanska is one of the entrepreneurs putting the most effort into finding more sustainable solutions in their projects. Their overall goal is to be in the forefront when it comes to green society development.

It seems as though the focus on sustainability has increased quickly within the construction industry in these past years – when did this development start?

Johan Gerklev, Sustainability Manager at Skanska– When it comes to infrastructure and eliminating risks, decreasing the impact on sensitive environment have been on the agenda for quite some time now. For house construction it has taken off after the introduction of environmental certification systems and an increased interest for low energy buildings for example, says Johan Gerklev, Sustainability Manager at Skanska.

How important is the construction material itself in the effort to work more sustainably?

– Construction is material intensive, meaning that the main focus through a sustainability perspective is minimizing the amount of material, both supply and removal thereof. We also try to have short distances to the material and using things that would otherwise go to waste.  Naturally, the choice of construction material and/or construction method is also important. Choosing the right material from a sustainability perspective is a complex matter since we need to take into consideration several different elements of the construction process, for example the manufacturing of the material, the emission from the manufacture, working conditions for employees at the production site, the components of the material as well as durability and service life.

I think sustainability development could be propelled further by the contracting parties.

Johan Gerklev, Sustainability Manager, Skanska

In the competition for large infrastructure projects, for instance, how important is your sustainability efforts?

– I think sustainability development could be propelled further by the contracting parties, if they prior to procurement procedures, which are not detail managed, instead invite the entrepreneurs to present solutions for how things could be contructed.

Does increased sustainability necessarily mean higher costs?

– No. Smart construction and economizing with resources and material means both better economy and better ecology. It’s in the design and planning stage where the most important work needs to be done. But it’s not unusual thinking that caring for the environment is more expensive. The case then is that a lot of times it concerns volumes, that the materials are not yet established and available in large quantities. Another way of cutting costs as well as establishing a better economy is recycling things that would otherwise go to waste. But that demands that the material doesn’t performs worse or contains pollutions like a lot of waste does.