Going Green in a Concrete Jungle: How Sustainability and Innovation are Inextricably Linked

7 Feb 2022

Lendlease Global COO and Americas CEO Denis Hickey sat down with The Real Deal to discuss our integrated business model, explain how sustainability and innovation are the driving forces behind all operations, and the key determining factors of future success.

Read the full article from The Real Deal, ‘Tall, green and handsome: Lendlease’s COO on building sustainably at scale’. Subscription may be required. 

When you operate in as many markets as Lendlease does, you’re bound to come up against geographical challenges, perhaps none more difficult than New York. Innovative ways of ‘building up’ on smaller parcels of land is what makes this ‘concrete jungle’ so vast, and as Denis notes, none of it would be possible without the leadership of our construction teams: “…it’s remarkable what our construction teams can deliver…they are a testament to world leadership in what can be done from a construction engineering standpoint.” Whether it’s in the way we pour concrete or how we manage waste on a site, in a city where it would be far easier to err on the side of practicality, Lendlease construction teams continue to pioneer sustainable ways of building. 

When afforded the luxury of a larger piece of land, such as Greenpoint’s 1 Java, the opportunity for sustainable innovation is endless. For this waterfront site however, one of its largest sustainability measures will be born from necessity, as climate change and rising sea levels demand a future-proof solution. Lucky for Lendlease, a blueprint for success already exists in our Clippership Wharf project in Boston, where a ‘living shoreline’ was built to create a better outcome for the community: “…it was really a benchmark for environmental solutions on shorelines…We feel a great sense of accountability and responsibility around creating great places, and doing that in harmony with the environment and the community.” 

Targets are impressive (especially our Mission Zero targets), but how a company intends to achieve them is more important. For Lendlease, AI and digitization in the construction process will be essential in the utilization of eco-friendly building materials, a critical step in decarbonizing the built environment: “Artificial intelligence and digitization are going to be the way to get greater productivity and less waste from sites. We are going to become smarter in measuring the output of buildings.” Existing sustainable materials such as cross-laminated timber are already being deployed across Lendlease sites globally, and with dedicated teams in the supply chain pushing further research and development, exciting new technologies are sure to come. 

It’s not just sustainability that reaps the rewards of innovative technologies - they enhance safety measures on construction sites, too. Through the adoption of new construction tech, Denis explains, teams are able to utilize the technology at hand to work faster, smarter, and most importantly, safer: “One of our core principles is that every person has the right to go home at nighttime to their families. So, safety’s the number one objective.” Times of change, however, are often met with resistance, especially when a system has worked so well for so long. For Denis, open communication with construction teams is paramount, as collaboration prevails over just “telling people what to do”: “When you take the time to work with [the teams] and demonstrate the value that can be gained, they’re amazing and supportive and they come with you on the journey.” 

At Lendlease, embracing sustainable practices and deploying innovative technologies will always be guided by our core principles: creating the best places for our communities and ensuring the safety of our people. 

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Watch the video interview below!