Tag Archives: general contractors

Skanska’s Seattle development division bodes well for sustainability

One of the hottest real estate stories of the week is the news that Skanska is bringing its commercial development division to Seattle, signifying it sees growth in the regional market.

My colleague at the DJC, Benjamin Minnick, reported the news here. In the story, he reports thatLisa Picard has been hired as executive vice president to lead the local development division. “The fundamentals in Seattle are great,” she said.

The move is especially notable because Skanska will self-finance all its projects and says it won’t necessarily develop projects owners are currently doing, such as apartments in today’s times. Instead, the story says Skanska will look at the long term and what is a good buy now.

That’s interesting obviously, because of the freedom Skanska has to build what it wants. But it also speaks to the potential for sustainable buildings.

Most developer’s green goals are constrained by the cost of super green technologies. I’ve been told that green projects up to around LEED gold can be done at cost if you begin early. But if you want to go for the super green stuff – net zero energy, Living Building certification, fancy new technologies – there’s still a hefty premium, even if there’s a huge benefit.

According to the story, Skanska has already said all its projects built locally will meet LEED gold or higher standards, and will be located in urban core areas with strong employment growth. To read the company’s sustainability policy, click here (beware- it’s pretty overwhelming).

By self-financing its own projects, Skanska, already a leading green general contractor, has the opportunity to do some really incredible things. Additionally, if they plan to hold onto projects for a long time, rather than flip them, they have more of an incentive to invest in green technologies that only pay off over the long term.

I’m curious to see what kind of projects they pursue, what kind of sustainable goals they target, and what kind of green technologies they might choose to pursue that others wouldn’t be able to. Of  course, they could simply go the LEED gold route. Or they could build something really innovative.

If projects were self-financed and held onto for a longer amount of time, do you think we’d end up with a larger quantity of super green buildings? Or do you think teams would stick to the status quo?

AIA Forum on Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction

I’m not sure about you but things can get pretty slow around here during the holidays. If you’re slowing down already, or if you are interested in an exciting winter event to jumpstart your green holiday season, check out the Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction program Dec. 13 and 14.

The event Dec. 13 is on IPD and runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The event Dec. 14 is on leanconstruction basics. Both are at the Mountaineers Program Center. The AIA, AGC of Washington and Lean Construction Institute are putting on the program.

If you haven’t heard of IPD at this point, I’m guessing you live under a rock. It contractually links the owner, architect and contractor with shared financial risk and reward on a project. The text of the program flier words it perfectly: “For some, IPD is just the latest buzzword for collaboration, the latest nuance to evolving project delivery; for others IPD heralds a transformation of the A/E/C industry, leading to new professional roles, collaboration techniques, design and construction process, and final product.”

I wrote about “true integrated project delivery” last December in this DJC article on Children’s Bellevue, an IPD collaboration between Seattle Children’s Hospital, NBBJ, Sellen Construction and Seneca Real Estate Group. It’s a fascinating project and a great read.

Sustainably, IPD has the potential to really change the game. Often a problem cited in green development is that teams are brought on too late. But with IPD, all team members are brought on from the very beginning and allowed to flesh problems out on the front end. From a green perspective, this means more efficient or cutting edge systems can be added in holistically and potentially more successfully.

Speakers at the event include AP Hurd of Touchstone, Eric Smith of the University of Washington Capital Projects Office, Jay Halleran of NBBJ, Ken Sanders of Gensler, Scott Redman of Sellen, Ted Sive of Ted Sive Consulting and more.  It costs $195 for AIA members and will be worth your time.

However, IPD is intrinsically connected to lean construction principles. The event on Dec. 14 will focus on lean construction basics. Registration for that is $525.

Photos of Seattle’s largest green roof at the Gates Foundation garage

About a month ago (Jan. 20) I wrote a story in the DJC on the green roof at the Gates Foundation’s garage. At 60,000 square feet or about 1.4 acres, it is the largest green roof in Seattle by a landslide.

The garage is a crosswalk away from Seattle Center on the east side of Fifth Avenue North. It is located next to the future Gates Foundation headquarters and is kitty-corner from EMP. The garage is technically a public-private partnership between the Gates Foundation and the city of Seattle. NBBJ was the architect. Sellen Construction was general contractor. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol was landscape architect.

The roof itself is visible from the Space Needle, a consideration in its design. The roof has five inches of soil over a layer of synthetic drainage.

Here are photos: