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April 22, 2024

Optimizing ESG From the Field to the Boardroom

Building a thriving planet touches every aspect of our business

By Joseph Hagar | President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer

This April, we are presented with Earth Day celebrations around the globe. We are also presented with the poignant reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability as well as the stakes for inaction.

Climate change has never been more present than it is now. Our industry contributes an outsized level of carbon emissions relative to other industries and fields, accounting for approximately 40% of global GHG emissions globally. Though that reflects a heavy weight in terms of the impact we have on our world, there is space to make considerable effort to shift our approaches, making material changes to our industry’s outdated processes to benefit the larger population of our planet.

Given our impact, we need to pay attention to the ways in which we interact, grow and change things on a global scale. By focusing on reducing our impact at every single level — from material sourcing to partner selection, from building techniques to carbon recycling initiatives — we can make a real impact that helps our planet, our partners and our communities.

To me, the opportunity for improvement doesn’t only exist with big, marquee initiatives — though they certainly have merit — but instead lives with the team. By leveraging our expertise and knowledge at every level, we can affect change in a way that extends beyond our projects, our specific capabilities and has a marked impact by virtue of the complexity of what we do and build.

Looking at a project, each expert on the team makes decisions that affect the outcome of timing, cost and sustainable operational viability. Our impact is not simply relegated to those of us that compost, meticulously clean our plastics or have foregone paper towels — this is something that will require an incalculable number of small actions by everyone across our teams. Architects can lean into best practices when designing a building’s footprint, engineers can recommend longer-term solutions that will fit current requirements while futureproofing their space, and building managers can work to keep their building optimized and efficient. The list of small actions everyone can take is virtually endless and is critical to our collective path forward.

McKinstry intends to set the standard, for our partners and competitors alike. As we upgrade our work and processes, we need to be thinking critically about our long-term impacts on the planet. The projects, funding and access we have built through Action for Impact allow us to continue to deploy resources and capital in a way that can accelerate the pace of our industry’s progress.

Is it economically viable right now, for each case? No.

Can we zoom the lens, shifting from a transactional approach to a broader set of goals and solutions to think about things in a more environmentally conscious way? Yes, absolutely.

Many brands, companies and leaders have set goals for carbon emissions over the coming years, some with lengthy horizons and some with short runways. In either case, the economic upside and viability of these plans hinges on the proactivity with which we set them in motion. Sure, things may cost more in this moment, but they certainly will cost more if we wait until the last minute before implementing real change. The time to act is now, and investing in our work, our partners and our future is non-negotiable.

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