Interview with PCL’s new Director, Sustainability, Scott Beckman

PCL Construction [pcl.com] is a group of independent construction companies working in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and in Australia. Its operations in the civil infrastructure, heavy industrial, and buildings markets amount to an annual construction volume of more than $8 billion, making PCL one of the largest contracting organizations in North America.

SABMag: What has been PCL’s experience in sustainable building thus far?

PCL: PCL’s consistent focus on sustainability over the years has resulted in a portfolio of work that demonstrates measurable benefits including energy and water savings and smart material choices that help our clients meet their goals for sustainability and cost effectiveness. PCL has been involved in the construction of more than 165 LEED certified projects across North America with a value of more than $15 billion and has 318 LEED credentialed staff. We have full-time experts in building envelope, mechanical, electrical and structural systems, as well as a sustainability professional network across North America engaged in developing high performance low impact building solutions for our clients.

We have a new partnership with Microsoft to develop smart solutions that will improve system efficiencies throughout buildings. One focus is to reduce management, maintenance, and utility costs by learning from the data collected, to create improvements and efficiencies. For example, these systems can use sensors and custom algorithms to automatically turn off the heat in unused rooms or areas of a building. Another outcome will be to increase occupant satisfaction and productivity. We can personalize and automate a building’s features such as lighting, heating and cooling, room utilization, and more, to create a more comfortable and productive work environment.

We have established a Solar Centre of Excellence with experts who can deliver renewable energy at all scales from utility projects to individual buildings. The group has installed more than 660 MW of solar projects, which is enough to power more than 130,000 homes. In addition, we are expanding our modular construction capabilities which allows us to achieve significant reductions in on-site waste generation and overall schedule durations.

SABMag: What do you see as your role as Director, Sustainability?

PCL: My role is to ensure that we are leveraging our sustainability knowledge and expertise to add value for our clients on every project we touch by identifying opportunities for high-performance construction. I also assist PCL’s clients in profitably developing, designing, constructing, and operating projects to achieve the highest levels of sustainability, with a focus on reduced energy consumption and low-carbon/net-carbon-neutral targets. I’m also involved in improving our day-to-day operations through the incorporation of measures to help reduce our energy, material, and water consumption.

SABMag: On a typical building project, how much influence does PCL have in ensuring or improving the sustainable aspects of a project?

PCL: We can bring the greatest value to the client when we are involved in the early stages of a project. The rating system and the project delivery type will both have an influence on PCL’s involvement and role related to sustainability. In general, a lump sum project requires PCL to follow basic sustainability requirements such as stormwater pollution prevention, tracking sustainability aspects of materials, construction waste recycling, and indoor air quality management during construction.

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