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Swedish builder ignores Trump in bid to make US green again

Skanska says there's a strong business case for a shift to an economy with lower carbon dioxide emissions

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Skanska says the proportion of its revenue derived from green construction has been growing in recent years, according to an internal tool it uses to measure the development.

Stockholm

ONE of the biggest contractors in the US is a Swedish company called Skanska AB. And one of the biggest opportunities it says the US market offers right now is the potential to do a lot more green construction.

Lena Hok, Skanska's senior vice- president, sustainability, says that even though US President Donald Trump has dragged the world's largest economy out of the Paris climate accord, there are still plenty of other ways to promote a green business agenda in the US.

Her ambition is to ignore the White House altogether and operate on the state level.

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"On a federal level, the president has expressed his intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, but our market analysis is focused on states," Ms Hok said in an interview.

"We see that there's a strong business case in the US as well for a transition to an economy with lower carbon dioxide emissions."

Skanska says the proportion of its revenue derived from green construction has been growing in recent years, according to an internal tool it uses to measure the development.

But by the same metric, the work it does in the US is lagging behind its home market and the UK.

United Nations figures show that buildings account for as much as 40 per cent of the world's energy consumption and cause about a third of greenhouse gas emissions (when both operational and embodied emissions are accounted for), according to Ms Hok.

Keeping those figures in mind, the construction industry "has a huge possibility to impact by constructing green buildings", she said.

Skanska's green focus coincides with growing demand among clients. The allure doesn't only come from the satisfaction of saving the environment, but there's also a cost advantage to greener construction.

Meanwhile, investors are keen to buy assets tied to green business ventures, and Skanska recently issued its second green bond.

Skanska's design of the 121 Seaport Boulevard building in Boston shows how the model works.

The elliptical shape of the project shaves 15 per cent off energy consumption due to less sun exposure, which lowers expenses.

And with the shape also requiring less facade cladding and steel, the cost of construction was lower than with a regular angular design.

It is techniques like those that Skanska hopes will help it grab market share.

"Are we leaders among our peers? I'll put it like Carlsberg: probably," Ms Hok said. BLOOMBERG