Toward a carbon free-future

We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us,” - Winston Churchill. Our homes, schools and places of work, along with transit lines and highways, are essential parts of our daily lives. However, did you know that creating most aspects of the built environment – and using them - consumes enormous amounts of resources and emits carbon dioxide?



The carbon opportunity

In 2017, the construction and operation of buildings globally generated 36 percent of final energy use and 39 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions globally, according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. No other sector has a larger impact on emissions.

Because of this, we see a powerful opportunity. By working smarter and looking at the whole-life perspective of these spaces, we can help people and the planet by creating more sustainable buildings and infrastructure. We see through experience how low carbon/zero-carbon solutions make business sense by driving efficiencies and reducing long term costs. The graph above shows the relationship between Skanska Group revenue and continued carbon emission reduction across our company. Skanska has set a Group target of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2045, with a 50 percent reduction by 2030.

These solutions often require collaboration and shared expertise. Here we show some of the progress we’re making with partners and explore common areas where we can help realize a carbon-free future.

What needs to be done

Hear from industry leaders on the possibilities around carbon reduction. Here they share some of the challenges, opportunities and ideas on how we can eliminate carbon.

Getting real about carbon:
The full picture

To understand how buildings and infrastructure impact climate change, we need to look across their whole lifecycle. Aside from the direct emissions during construction activities on project sites, there are also the indirect emissions that come from the supply chain, such as through manufacturing and transporting materials - this is called embodied carbon. There are also the future emissions from operations of the building, such as heating and cooling (operational carbon). Taking the full perspective enables us and our industry to make the most reductions in carbon emissions.

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Collaboration for positive impact

Reducing and eliminating carbon in the built environment requires innovative types of collaborations at all levels of the value chain.

For example, we have partnered with Volvo Construction Equipment to collaborate on Electric Site, a research project in Sweden that aims to make quarry production smarter, greener and safer. This initiative involves developing new types of quarry equipment powered by electricity – including futuristic-looking, self-driving load carriers – and creating new ways of working. During the test period, there has been a 98 percent reduction in carbon emissions, exceeding the target of 95 percent. Furthermore, energy costs have been reduced by 70 percent and operator costs have been lowered by 40 percent, together supporting the ambition of achieving a 25 percent decrease in total cost of operations.

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Rethinking supply chains

The steel and concrete embedded into most buildings and other structures are not always seen. But their impacts on the environment are very real.

Emissions from manufacturing and delivering the cement, steel and rubber materials used in construction make up 60 percent of a building’s emissions.

We are working to produce lower-carbon materials, both through our own efforts and through our supply chain. In Norway, working with university students and a concrete supplier we developed a concrete mix with 50 percent less carbon emissions compared to conventional concrete, and 40 percent less embedded energy. In this mix, much of the carbon-intensive cement has been replaced by pulverized fly ash and condensed silica fume, both waste materials from other industries.

At a larger scale, we are honored to have been trusted by the Swedish government to lead the development of a carbon neutrality "roadmap" for the construction and civil engineering sector to achieve by 2045.


Sustainability driving innovation

In Norway, Skanska is part of Powerhouse, a collaboration of companies  dedicated to making buildings that produce more energy than they consume over a 60-year life cycle while being aligned to the climate ambitions in the Paris Agreement. Achieving this ambitious level of building performance results from fusing forward-thinking, highly efficient architecture and engineering with renewable energy sources and low-carbon materials and building processes.

Completed this year is Powerhouse Brattørkaia, one of the world's northernmost energy-positive office buildings. Its roof is sharply pitched at 19.7 degrees to provide the optimum angle for photovoltaic panels to harvest the sun’s energy. And a big circular opening in the center of the building enables sunlight to reach interior offices. Form follows environment has been a guiding theme.

Less emissions mean less cost

In the UK, Skanska is part of the alliance responsible for delivering more than half of the capital investment program of Anglian Water, one of the UK’s largest water utilities. Anglian Water has ambitious sustainability targets – including net zero carbon emissions by 2030 - that drive innovation and outperformance. To support these ambitions, we review every detail of our projects on this contract to identify the best solutions for carbon reduction. During the most recently completed asset management period, carbon budgets and innovative design led to reductions of embodied carbon by 55 percent, operational carbon by 41 percent and cost by 25 percent. Less carbon emissions frequently leads to less cost.

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Capitol Tower Houston
Heimdal High School
Juvelen_ Uppsala_Sweden
Electric site_ Gotherburg

World Green Building Week

We are delighted to participate in World Green Building Week (WGBW) 23-29 September, the annual campaign hosted by the World Green Building Council (WGBC) that empowers the delivery of green buildings for everyone, everywhere. The theme this year is #BuildingLife, exploring how we can create a green, healthy and climate resilient built environment for all. The goal of the Building Life campaign is to highlight the need for the sustainable production, design, construction, use, deconstruction and re-use of buildings and their materials.