ENV SP Spotlight: Ryan Prime of Skanska USA
Ryan Prime is the national Sustainability Director for Skanska USA’s civil construction business. In addition to leading sustainability initiatives across Skanska’s operating regions, Ryan is responsible for implementing the ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 certification process to ensure Skanska’s Environmental, Health and Safety Program is compliant with these international standards for Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety management. Ryan has been with Skanska since 2008 and has worked on some of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in the New York metro area including the LaGuardia Terminal B Redevelopment Project, Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program and the Second Avenue Subway Tunnels Project. During his time with Skanska, Ryan has worked extensively in risk management, environmental compliance and contracts administration. Since taking the role of Sustainability Director, Ryan has served as chair of the Construction Industry Workgroup for the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and has provided his expertise in the development and review of the Envision framework, both v2 and v3. In addition, he lectures at Columbia University on sustainable development for the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. Ryan is a frequent speaker at Harvard University’s Zofnass Program Workshops and was recently invited to be a member of American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Sustainability. Ryan holds a B.S. degree in Environmental Geoscience from Boston College and a M.E. degree in Ocean Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology.
ISI staff had a chance to connect with Ryan to learn more about his work and how he uses Envision.
Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI): What drew you to your field of work?
Ryan Prime (RP): From a young age I have always been drawn to natural systems and how we as a society interact with our surroundings through the built environment. As my knowledge expanded and my experiences multiplied I connected the delicate balance between what must be built to ensure a high quality of life with what must be conserved to ensure future generations have the same opportunity.
(ISI): What has been your biggest career challenge?
(RP): There have been many challenges but the toughest, and one I have yet to overcome, is reaching a point where the entire life cycle of an asset is taken into account when making project decisions. To start, it’s important to define what lifecycle means and understand that different entities within project development team have different perspectives. For example, a lender may interpret lifecycle differently from the contractor’s perspective who in turn has a different viewpoint than the operations and maintenance folks. Decisions are often made with only one slice of the pie in view. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in creating sustainable infrastructure is taking the time to understand the lifecycle impact of the decisions made on a project.
(ISI): What has been your proudest career moment?
(RP): I like to think that the best is yet to come. If I had to choose something at this point in my career I would say being selected as a committee member of ASCE’s Committee on Sustainability. Not only is it an honor to be recognized in the industry through such an appointment, the group is tasked with drafting a standard to be used as a rubric for sustainable infrastructure. Measures like these are the building blocks on which future infrastructure projects will be delivered in the USA and directly contribute to a strong and vibrant economy.
(ISI): How did you learn about Envision?
(RP): In 2012 I researched “How to build a ‘green’ bridge?” I stumbled upon the Zofnass Program at Harvard and ISI and what was then a very early draft of Envision. At that time, I was a LEED AP and I knew that if the infrastructure sectors followed the same path with Envision as the commercial/residential sectors did in terms of LEED certification the opportunity was massive.
I then became an ENV SP to learn ISI’s definition of what it means to build “sustainable infrastructure” and to support this endeavor in the industry.
(ISI): How is Skanska using Envision?
(RP): Skanska is building six projects that have been verified and have earned Envision awards. The use of Envision supports Skanska’s values. We see these awards as a way to highlight the effort that goes into to planning and constructing projects sustainably that may otherwise be overlooked because it is often challenging to communicate this without a third-party certification like Envision.
(ISI): Can you share some highlights from an Envision project?
(RP): I am very proud of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Expo Line Phase 2 (Expo 2) Light Rail project award we earned in 2017. This project provided a critical piece of infrastructure that did not exist before and was one of the first projects Skanska had verified using Envision. The client – Metro – was an excellent partner in the award and through the verification process they were able to demonstrate a leadership position in sustainability.
(ISI): What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?
(RP): Not surprising I love anything outdoors. Hiking, trail running, surfing, mountain biking and camping – and always with my family.
(ISI): What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
(RP): I’m a car guy. I know working in the sustainability field implies that I have to despise anything that consumes fossil fuels but I am very much into all makes and models of cars, trucks and vans – essentially anything with wheels and an engine. In my defense nearly all of the work I perform on cars is maintenance related so the goal is to keep things operating safely and efficiently.