This week we had great news when Skanska Corp. made the decision to depart the U.S. Chamber. The U.S. Chamber is fighting new green construction standards that the company supports. The U.S. Chamber was so determined to block these new standards that it helped start an advocacy group – the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition – dedicated to opposing them.
Skanksa said in its press release that the U.S. Chamber was supporting the interests of a few status quo businesses – those who manufacture materials that would be banned under new rules – over those of companies that are bringing innovation to the building and construction industry.
At least one member of the U.S. Chamber-backed advocacy group said that the new rules would put jobs at risk.
But Skanska USA’s CEO Mike McNally shared another point of view, pointing out that the U.S Chamber’s efforts could potentially damage the construction industry, which has seen wide and innovative adoption of green building standards.
Given that many economists see construction as one key to the country’s economic recovery, the U.S. Chamber’s position seems contradictory to the giant banner hanging outside the organization’s headquarters that reads, “J-O-B-S”.
McNally also pushed back against calls by AHPBC for “consensus” on construction standards, saying, “There’s never going to be a consensus [on new rules]. You’d still have asbestos in buildings, you’d still have lead paint in buildings, because God forbid you should disadvantage the lead-paint business.”
Skanska is not the first company to leave the U.S. Chamber with similar grievances. Several former members – including Apple, Yahoo, Pacific Gas and Electric, and more than 50 local Chambers – have quit the organization over the past few years because of its stances on the environment or other issues.
Examples of the U.S. Chamber’s broader views on environment include calling for climate science to be put on trial and challenging in court a finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that greenhouse gases threaten public health.
We applaud the company’s move and hope that other firms follow its lead.