Since the early days of the firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff has been aware of the importance of a sustainable approach to infrastructure. Company founder William Barclay Parsons was an advocate of hydroelectricity as an alternative to steam power, and during the 20th century Parsons Brinckerhoff engineers have sought—to one degree or another—to incorporate fundamental principles of sustainability in the implementation of projects.
Commitment to Sustainability
In 2002, Parsons Brinckerhoff launched a company-wide initiative to consolidate and enhance its capabilities and resources in relation to sustainability. The guiding principle was a commitment to integrating social, economic, and environmental considerations (the triple bottom line) in the planning and development of infrastructure. In March 2003, the firm issued a policy statement declaring its commitment to sustainability:
Parsons Brinckerhoff is strongly committed to ensuring an environment suitable for a meaningful quality of life for future generations. Consequently, we embrace both the principles of sustainable development—a more careful balancing of social, environmental, and economic concerns—and its fundamental goal of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We will endeavor to promote these objectives through strategic initiatives integrating the principles of sustainable development into the processes and outcomes of our professional work. Such initiatives will include internal training, ISO-14001 certification of our offices, an official reporting system, and other supporting strategies.
LEED Accredited Professionals
Around that time, Parsons Brinckerhoff also became a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), sponsor of the widely used Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) sustainability rating system. A concentrated effort was launched to expand the number of LEED Accredited Professionals within the firm, as well as staff accredited in other sustainability rating systems such as BREEAM (an environmental assessment method for buildings). By the end of 2010, the firm had approximately 175 worldwide sustainable development professionals.
Parsons Brinckerhoff also developed internal tools for evaluating the sustainability of highway, transit, building, and port projects (the "Sustainability Toolkit"). The firm stood by its commitment to meeting ISO 14000 Environmental Management Standards in its business operations by achieving ISO 14001certification for a number of offices.
Staff Worldwide Embrace Sustainability
Parsons Brinckerhoff's sustainability initiative is energized by the personal efforts of staff members in offices around the world, who mobilize in "Green Teams" to engage in community service activities, and implement strategies to reduce the environmental impact of office operations. At both the corporate and individual levels, we continue to seek ways to realize our founder's belief that it is "not the design that governs, but its adaptability to the economic and social needs of the time."