By its nature, construction has the potential to create negative impacts on the local environment when not actively managed. Done well, it has the potential to have a significant positive impact. Therefore, Skanska sees a big opportunity in proactive environmental management at local level.
Challenges and opportunities
Local impacts can include dust, noise, extra traffic, light pollution, emissions and pollution caused by uncontrolled discharges to air, water bodies and soil. Furthermore the development of residential areas and infrastructure projects has an impact on the local biodiversity, but if managed correctly this impact can be of positive nature.
Through our supply chain Skanska also has an impact on biodiversity and the local environment well beyond our own construction sites and development. The procurement processes for all Skanska Business units involve several thousands of suppliers and subcontractors per Business. This procurement in general is a decentralized process so local impacts in our supply chain are a true challenge to manage.
Policy and strategy
Skanska’s approach to Local Impacts is to focus on things we can directly control and directly influence.
Our Environmental Policy states that we will "reduce harmful emissions to the air from projects, road vehicles, mobile and stationary equipment and processes” and “mitigate the impact of our operations on flora, fauna and related ecosystems” and “minimize the negative impact of our operations on water, land and soil quality”. We are also to “proactively select and use materials that are benign to people and the environment.”
The Skanska Color Palette™ target the use of Zero Unsustainable Materials, recognizing our impact on the local environment in selecting construction materials for our projects.
All Skanska Business Units have been certified to ISO 14001 since 2000 – an industry first. Newly acquired or newly established businesses have two years to certify their EMS against ISO 14001 or to become part of an existing EMS. ISO 14001 and Skanska's Risk Management system and organization are our primary means of ensuring effective management of Local Impacts.
The overall objective of the Risk management system and the organization is to ensure that our risks and opportunities are managed systematically, as efficiently as possible and that we assign the correct priorities, thereby supporting the achievement of Skanska's business objectives and goals.
Evidence that the strategy to have all Business Units certified to ISO 14001 has been effective can be seen in the relatively small number of Major Non-conformances served on our Business Units by external auditors since 2005.
Since 1 January 2005 these Environmental Management Systems (EMS) have received a total of thirteen Major Non Conformance (MNC) citations from external auditors during routine recertification processes. Of these, only one related to a direct impact on the environment, invalid use of demolition waste on a highway project due to expired permit, subsequently corrected. To put this in context, since 1 January 2005 Skanska has executed approximately 90,000 contracts in its Home Markets while operating under these EMS. Of the thirteen BUs that make up Skanska today, eight have received no MNC citations since January 2005 and two have had none since 1999 and 1995 respectively.
To manage risk and opportunities in our supply chains Skanska target the use of Sustainable Materials in the Color Palette™. This includes consideration of the transparency of the supply chain and local impacts during extraction, harvesting and manufacturing of the material in question.
The UN describes 2011 as the beginning of the Decade of Biodiversity when the Nagoya Protocol is adopted and implemented as a means of delivering the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Cooper River Bridge is a good example of how an informed customer can work with a responsible construction company to deliver a large scale civil project in sympathy with a biologically rich wetland habitat.
Next steps - 2011-2015
For Business Plan 2011-2015 we will continue to use our worldwide ISO 14001 certified environmental management systems to manage Local Impacts and utilize our Risk management system, organization and expertise. This will be augmented by half-yearly workshops with the Environmental Performance Network (EPN) to ensure that best practices continue to flow around our Business Units.