Sustaining people, profit and our planet

Sustaining people, profit and our planet

by TOM SCARANGELLO, Chairman & CEO, Thornton Tomasetti | April 22, 2015

This year, we surveyed our entire staff, asking where they thought the AEC industry was heading in the next 20 years. The answers were illuminating, with about one-third relating to some aspect of sustainability.

At Thornton Tomasetti, we view sustainability as the interconnection of people, the planet and profit. We strive to reduce the impact of our company’s environmental footprint, while helping others to reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings. We also work to take care of employees and give back to our communities. Through these efforts to do good where we have influence, we seek to build an enduring and profitable organization.

We think we’re heading in the right direction.

The answers to our survey are a kind of crystal ball, foretelling an era in which climate change will have an ever-increasing effect on how we design buildings. We see designs meeting ever-higher standards of sustainability. Resilience to extreme weather will be a priority in the design of new construction and in renovations.

Our employees also forecast trends toward greater flexibility for staff and more focus on work/life balance. Advanced technologies are changing and likely improving our working patterns. An evolving definition of “the workday” will also create opportunities to better serve our communities through volunteer and pro bono work.

Where are we now?

We are growing our sustainability and resiliency services. We are working toward the goal of carbon-neutral business operations. We are advocating for smart decisions by governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And we are working to reduce the life-cycle impact of structural materials in our projects.

We are evaluating our employees’ satisfaction and comfort in the office so that we can create a better workplace. And we are providing new benefits and opportunities for employees to grow. We are engaging in important conversations on topics such as women in engineering. 

This year, Thornton Tomasetti's Denver office achieved a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It was its third office to achieve the honor, after Chicago & Philadelphia. (Photo: Thornton Tomasetti.)

This year, Thornton Tomasetti's Denver office achieved a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It was its third office to achieve the honor, after Chicago & Philadelphia. (Photo: Thornton Tomasetti.)

Where are we going? 

The July 2014 issue of Civil + Structural Engineer details our “sustainability walk.” As noted in the article, we embrace sustainability as an important foundation of a good business and just plain common sense. 

What is our path? 

Throughout the history of our firm, our enduring values have allowed us to continually adapt, grow and thrive. It is clear that sustainability is a priority for our people and will continue to be a rising concern in the marketplace. When we invest in sustainability, we invest in our future. This report highlights opportunities to collaborate with our design partners and others to make lasting contributions to the buildings of today and to the world of the future. 

Currently the chairman of the New York Building Congress, the author is an award-winning civil engineer by training who joined Thornton Tomasetti (then Lev Zetlin Associates) in 1979. Scarangello was named chairman of the international structural engineering firm in 2007. A Bronx NY native and lifelong Yankees fan, he has taken to the national bully pulpit as a champion of innovation and collaboration within the construction industry.

This article first appeared April 22 in Thornton Tomasetti's annual Sustainability Report. The photo at top is of the Federation Tower Complex in Moscow. It is provided courtesy of Mirax Group.

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