Haskell’s engineers play a critical role in promoting sustainability and carbon reduction with their design and construction choices, such as the creation of this system of wind and solar power and a green roof, which work together to reduce carbon emissions.

February 22, 2023

Engineering and Material Decisions are Critical to Sustainable Future

Sourcing decisions and efficient plumbing, electrical and HVAC designs using clean-energy solutions can reduce a facility's carbon footprint.


Editor’s note: Haskell.com is celebrating Engineers Week 2023 by leveraging the expertise of our nearly 200 engineers daily to address this year’s theme, “Creating the Future,” which recognizes how engineers play a vital role in innovating solutions to global challenges facing future generations. Today, we focus on how engineers can positively influence the sustainability of facilities and reduce their carbon footprint.

Bring up climate change in a large room and you’re likely to get a variety of opinions. Perhaps even an argument or two, some based in fact, others not.

Thomas Warner Headshot
Thomas Warner

Tom Warner, who chairs Haskell’s Sustainability Council, looks beyond politics, and the reason is simple: He doesn’t want his 26-year-old daughter and 22-year-old son to have to worry about the repercussions. He doesn’t want them to have to deal with stronger hurricanes, greater flooding and 30-foot snowstorms. He wants the same for other families, too.

Warner, a Senior Architect, said design-build firms such as Haskell play a major role in reducing the impacts of climate change by reducing embodied carbon, which is tied to the manufacturing, transportation and installation of construction materials, and operational carbon, which is linked to a building’s energy consumption.

“As a promoter of building, it should be our goal to promote sustainability, carbon reduction and bring it to our clients as part of our design process and construction,” Warner said.

Engineers at Haskell are particularly critical in that effort because they understand how their design and construction choices can affect the environment for generations.

This is especially important because the United States is again part of the Paris Agreement, a measure joined by nearly 200 countries with goals of substantially reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase.

Warner said Haskell’s engineers take an active role in reducing operational carbon by designing plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that are efficient, innovative and take advantage of clean-energy solutions. The choices can include solar hot water systems, all-electric buildings, LED lighting and photovoltaic (PV) systems, which convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Engineers can also help reduce carbon emissions by:

  • Choosing products or systems with low embodied carbon (EC) footprints by reviewing environmental product declarations for the lowest embodied carbon products that meet performance requirements.
  • Replacing products with high-carbon ingredients with lower-carbon ingredients, such as replacing Portland cement in concrete with limestone cement and fly ash.
  • Reusing existing facilities instead of building new ones when appropriate.
  • Reducing transportation emissions by selecting regionally extracted and manufactured products.

Haskell has been No. 1 in the Engineering News-Record (ENR) rankings of the Top Green Building Contractors for three consecutive years and has been No. 1 on the list of Top Green Building Design Firms for the past two, in large part because Warner and the Sustainability Council continue to educate and evolve.

Most recently, he has been developing a sustainability checklist for Haskell’s projects, which includes suggestions such as orienting buildings during the design phase to maximize solar and daylighting potential; considering highly reflective roofs, which may reduce cooling and heating loads; making sure building envelopes are well-sealed to prevent leaks; and ensuring they’re providing interiors that are healthy and breathable.

Warner doesn’t just focus on the issue at work; he lives it in his personal life, as well. He has solar panels on the roof of his home in Minnesota and uses a battery-operated lawn mower and snow blower. The latter has gotten a lot of use this winter, but the only footprint left behind is from Warner’s boots.

Contact us to discover how Haskell’s design-build methodology, built on integrated project delivery, is ideally suited to creating responsible, sustainable projects that enhance our communities.

Haskell delivers more than $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,300 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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