Market Maker of sustainable value

3/7/2014 12:47 PM CET

Originally an architect, Elizabeth Heider joined Skanska USA Building more than a decade ago. She was a pioneer of green before it was embraced by the business community.

Involved with the USGBC since 1997, Heider served for six years on the USGBC's national Board of Directors, which she chaired in 2012.  She has supported the development and international acceptance of such green cornerstones as LEED-certification and LEED professional accreditation while contributing to over a dozen studies establishing the business case for green building. 

Beth founded Skanska USA's Green Council which marshals sustainable capabilities nationwide. Through the leadership of this network, hundreds of Skanska staff have received LEED training.  Today, more than 500 of them have joined her as LEED Accredited Professionals.

She has served as the Senior Vice President of Green Markets for years, but this January, Beth Heider took on the position as Skanska USA's first Chief Sustainability Officer.

Because Skanska embraces the triple bottom line of sustainability: environmental, economic and social responsibility, in your new position, you will enter a broader field.  What will be your main focus in the area of social responsibility?

"Skanska's values – especially our commitment to high ethical standards – are the reason I joined Skanska.  I will serve on our ethics team and support our commitment to diversity – and importantly – inclusion." says Beth, from her base in Washington D.C.

In Skanska's 125th Anniversary book, you are quoted saying about being green: "I am not a scientist, but for me it is basic common sense: you don’t wreck the land."

What is common sense when it comes to social responsibility?

"When you treat every stakeholder – from our clients to the community we serve, to the most junior person on our construction sites – with respect, demanding ethical behavior, caring for their safety and inspiring them to do their best work, everyone wins. In addition to how we work, it is critical to care about what materials and systems we put into our projects, because what we build will have an impact for generations."

What is the societal role of a commercial company?

"I admire the fact that Skanska has served our communities for more than 125 years - which we embrace as the first 125 years.  We take a long view.  Our clients and employees want to be associated with a company of high values that they can trust. They want to know our work together will support a prosperous future for our communities.  Our role is to build sustainable value for society that will stand the test of time, because we want to be the builder of choice for our grandchildren's grandchildren."

In 2013, Elizabeth Heider was honored with Skanska's internal global Golden Rock Award, "Be a Market Maker," for her persistent work to make Skanska synonymous with green.

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