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How Sustainability Works for Your Contracting Company

Tue May 10, 2022 - National Edition

Day one of World of Asphalt. (Photo courtesy of AEM)
Day one of World of Asphalt. (Photo courtesy of AEM)

Sustainability is a growing concern for all segments of the economy, including construction and paving companies. Not only because of the environmental impact on the community, but for the economic impact on companies as well.

In its World of Asphalt 2022 session "Developing a Sustainability Program that Works for Your Company," University of Nevada Reno Professor Adam Hand and Granite Construction Sustainability Manager Raven Adams made the case for asphalt pavement and infrastructure construction companies to develop a sustainability program, and how to approach it.

According to Hand and Adams, over the past 30 years, a dollar invested in a company with a high commitment in sustainability will have grown 47 percent more than that same dollar invested in a peer company without a high commitment to sustainability.


In the case of infrastructure companies, Adams and Hand cite the Inter-American Development Bank saying, in 2018, that sustainability infrastructure projects "are planned, designed, constructed, operated and decommissioned in a manner to ensure economic and financial, social, environmental and institutional sustainability over the entire life cycle of the project."

In other words, it is a smart way to eliminate waste and maximize value at every stage of a project.

Adams said at Granite Construction, the Watsonville, Calif.-based infrastructure contractor celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, sustainability is integrated into each project in the form of social responsibility, environmental stewardship and dependable governance because it delivers enduring economic value.

She said that incorporation of sustainability principles not only helps them reduce costs and waste, but helps them develop new market opportunities, and attract, engage and retain talent, a key concern among all companies that work in the various trades.

Ultimately, Adams said there were five lessons learned at Granite to both initiating a sustainability strategy, and making it work for everyone:

1. Lead with the value proposition. Sustainability isn't just good for the environment, it's good for the bottom line as well.

2. Connect the right teams. Different teams will have different responsibilities and contributions to both create and implement the plan. Knowing who they are and what they can do ahead of time will lead to a greater chance of success.

3. Educate your stakeholders to generate buy-in. As the saying goes, "A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still." Making sure an organization's stakeholders are properly educated and bought-in will help lead to sustainable success.

4. Understand the psychology of goal setting. Businesses are no stranger to setting goals for performance but knowing why goals exist will lead to more productive, and attainable, goals being set.

5. Understand the organization's data systems to measure for continuous improvement. Knowing an organization's data systems will help with understanding what can be measured, and what can be improved.

For more education on sustainability, ConExpo-Con/AGG, running March 14 to 18, 2023, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, has its own sustainability track for education sessions.

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