People & Environment

We generate sustainable alternatives in the construction and management of our projects

Protecting the environment and conserving resources sets the tone for the operational life of a project—from our initial design and engineering considerations to the processes and methods we use to mitigate impacts from construction. Our customers and communities benefit from the positive environmental outcomes delivered by our people, projects, and practices.

We generate sustainable alternatives in the construction and management of our projects, including reducing material requirements, waste to landfill, and water and energy use. We help our customers and communities manage the effects of extreme weather and other atmospheric changes by improving the resilience of the physical structures we create for societies that will depend on them for years to come.

In many urban and remote communities where we operate, Bechtel works collaboratively with different stakeholders to implement environmental sustainability programs to improve human health and local conditions, such as waste management, recycling, and conservation. Our goal is to build practical appreciation, local engagement, and capacities to protect and conserve their local environment for the long term.  

Innovating from within

Internal initiatives, created and driven by our employees across the company, continually generate new ideas in project sustainability. For example, our colleagues created a Green Footprint award to recognize sustainability excellence and innovation in infrastructure projects. 

Our Mining & Metals business also established the Educate – Engage – Evolve E3arth Challenge, in which teams compete to launch new, or enhance current, environmental best practices. 

Through our Technical Grants Program, our engineers pursue advances in technology, design, and construction techniques, processes, and tools. We have awarded more than 120 grants during the past 30 years. Recipients have used these grants to create new engineering design guides that promote sustainability in construction projects, such as utilizing ground source heat pumps, which rely on the earth as a heat reservoir to control the temperature of buildings and other structures.

One of the important ways we contribute to sustainability beyond the project is by sharing safety and environmental practices with our customers, partners, suppliers, and communities everywhere we operate.

Case Studies

Generating cleaner energy for Texas

Bechtel and its partners are working with Panda Power Funds to deliver natural gas to 1.5 million homes across Texas through three state-of-the-art power plants. The projects, which are among the cleanest, most efficient gas-fueled power plants in the United States, are expected to contribute nearly $3.3 billion to the state’s economy during construction and the plant’s first 10 years of operation.

In 2015, one of the realities of international cooperative action toward urgent sustainable development challenges is the need for the kind of practical action only business can provide—and nowhere is this more true than infrastructure. Bechtel plans and builds sustainability and resilience into urban, energy, and transport infrastructure worldwide.—Norine Kennedy, Vice President, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment, U.S. Council for International Business

Future-proofing our energy security

Bechtel is working with a variety of customers to diversify America’s conventional energy. In the last five years, Bechtel delivered three solar projects powering some 275,000 homes in California. In the state’s Mojave Desert, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a massive solar thermal complex, has nearly doubled the amount of commercial solar power in the United States. 

Re-engineering mines

Mines require large amounts of water to operate—for transporting and processing materials, suppressing dust, and cleaning equipment. Maintaining a sustainable water supply without depleting local systems, however, is a challenge. This is especially true in South America, where regulatory requirements and societal concerns over competing demands for water continue to grow. Our solutions provide better alternatives for the mining industry. One example is our work on the Escondida copper project in Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. There, the average annual rainfall is six-tenths of an inch, or about 15 millimeters. We are developing one of the largest desalinated water supply systems in the world to secure a reliable water supply for two copper concentrators and preserve Chile’s scarce groundwater. Water from the Pacific will be pumped and processed to separate the brine and filter minerals and other biological content, then transported approximately 112 miles (180 kilometers) across the Atacama Desert to the mine’s reservoir, 10,500 feet (3,200 meters) above sea level.