Since PCL Construction was founded in 1906, it has always been committed to excellence and adhering to the principles of integrity, fairness, honesty, stewardship and ethical behavior. Over a century later, our leadership team leans on these principles along with our purpose and core values to navigate an ever-changing world with increased scrutiny on the role business should play in society. These fundamentals also provide a foundation for making sound business decisions. 

The third edition of PCL’s Corporate Social Responsibility Report shares how we combine our purpose of building a better future, together, with our ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship to make a positive and lasting difference. We recognize that sustainability is a journey of continual improvement, so we continue to incorporate best practices.

The report includes metrics that align with Environmental, Social and Governance best practices and highlights how our sustainability strategy aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are most relevant to our business. The report also shares details about our sustainability strategy and framework which build on the strength of our existing social and governance processes and enhance our approach to environmental stewardship.

PCL has always been a green building leader and has worked with our partners to build 248 LEED-certified projects with a total value of more than $18 billion. PCL has also been at the forefront of the renewable energy market as clients have diversified into renewable energy sources such as solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and bioenergy and has completed more than three billion dollars’ worth of renewable energy projects.

However, as expectations shift, we have to push past the status quo. In addition to helping clients build leading-edge sustainable projects, construction companies are now expected to do their part to reduce carbon emissions. The construction industry is a large contributor to the annual Gross Domestic Product in both Canada and the United States. The construction industry contributes to 7.5% of annual GDP in Canada and 4.2% of annual GDP in the U.S. As such, the construction industry will play a role in helping both nations achieve their sustainable development goals.

A plethora of companies have been announcing their emissions targets and 2030 and 2050 carbon reduction goals. This environment is putting pressure on companies to quickly develop and share their goals; however, there is value in taking a pragmatic approach to ensure that publicly shared goals are realistic and achievable. PCL is taking a thoughtful approach to ensure we set realistic goals for that meet the business expectations of our clients while aligning with best practices and standards.

To date, PCL has gathered baseline emissions data for a portion of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions for PCL-owned and PCL-leased offices and yards, and for its vehicles. After analyzing the data, we will make an educated assessment of when and how to set an emissions target and reduction goal. Setting these will be another significant milestone in our sustainability journey. 

Driving transformational change requires collaboration. As our clients work to meet their environmental and social goals, they expect us to be able to effectively communicate our approach to ESG and how our approach can support them. As part of this, our clients require sophisticated information and data.

Part of the challenge with being able to provide useful data is a lack of consistency. According to EY, there are approximately 600 ESG reporting standards globally. The lack of consistency results in ambiguity and makes it hard for organizations to transparently share non-financial reporting in a manner that makes it easy to compare efforts across industry peer groups.

PCL will be keeping an eye on the International Sustainability Standards Board as it works to deliver a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards. The standards will provide an avenue for companies to approach non-financial reporting with the same rigor as financial reporting and a way to transparently report sustainability-related risks and opportunities. Once the new standards are available, PCL will review them to determine whether aligning with the standards will help us provide our clients with valuable information about how PCL integrates ESG criteria into our business decisions.   

As PCL continues on its sustainability journey, we will continue to build people, communities and legacies. Our journey will include incorporating best practices that support sustainable construction. These practices include integrating renewable energy and passive systems into projects, constructing with mass timber, using low-carbon concrete, tracking and reducing embodied carbon and constructing net-zero buildings. The improvement of our methods and processes will limit our environmental impact and positively contribute to the long-term well-being of our communities.

In addition to implementing sustainable construction practices, we will also improve our operations and decrease our carbon footprint. Our multi-year strategy guides PCL in reducing carbon and waste and in improving water and facility management. This phased strategy will improve operational efficiency in our offices and on our job sites and will decrease our environmental impact.

Overall, it’s an exciting and challenging time to be in construction. The industry is well-positioned to decrease the impacts of the built environment and positively impact our communities. It will take creativity and collaboration and at times it will require us to rethink our approach and determine more efficient and sustainable ways to build. In addition to making a difference through our sustainability efforts, we will also make difference by taking a proactive approach to safety, diversity, equity, inclusion and innovation to leave a legacy we are proud of.