For many years, Paul McElroy, who oversees design and construction activities at Highgate across the company’s global platform, has struggled with an internal conflict.
“I love what I do—I love design, I love construction, I love creating—but I’ve had this conflict between what I love to do and the negative impact it has on the planet,” says the executive vice president of design and construction.
The impact he’s referring to is the carbon emissions generated by construction, which accounts for about 39 percent of global emissions, according to the World Economic Forum. With this in minds, McElroy and his team are committed to incorporating sustainability initiatives into their projects.
Over the years, Highgate has focused on partnerships that will help minimize its carbon footprint. For instance, the company joined forces with MindClick to help audit its FF&E vendor partners on their sustainability practices. MindClick gives the vendors an independent rating and helps Highgate work with vendors that meet validated sustainability criteria and objectives.
Across the portfolio, McElroy and his team focus on creating buildings with a lower carbon footprint and reduced emissions during all phases of development. McElroy believes the key to pushing this sustainable approach is by engraining it in the company’s mindset.
“If it’s an afterthought, it’s always going to be an extreme challenge and everyone’s going to complain that it costs more money, but if it’s a mindset, it becomes part of what you do. The earlier the objective is engrained in the project process, the better the outcome.”
This speaks to Highgate’s commitment to having sustainability at the center of everything they create. “It’s about pushing boundaries and pushing people out of their comfort zones,” he says. “I feel like I have a platform to create change that ripples out into the design and construction community at large. Hopefully, we’re leading by example and creating an effect that goes far beyond Highgate projects.”
McElroy and his team aren’t just pushing boundaries on the sustainability front. Their collaboration has led to large scale repositioning and development throughout the world. In January, Highgate announced the launch of HG Portugal, which includes lifestyle boutique hotels, urban, full-service hotels, waterfront luxury resorts, and large convention facilities throughout the country. HG Portugal came on the heels of the relaunch of Hotel Saint in London.
In addition to Highgate’s sustainability efforts, philanthropy has been another core company value that McElroy has been proud to help advance in his role. The company established the Highgate Charitable Foundation (HCF) in 2019 to support organizations addressing poverty, education, and healthcare, such as Save The Children, Feeding America, and the Aga Khan Foundation.
So far, HCF has raised over $7.5 million dollars and has helped more than 17 million children find access to food, education, and healthcare around the world. For McElroy, that impact is another testament to the company’s willingness to act on its mission-driven goals.
“It’s really important for the company,” he says. “We want to continue being a positive force in the lives of people here and across the globe.”
McElroy says that work is made possible by a team of designers, architects, and engineers, whose chemistry is just as strong as its talent. As a leader, McElroy cultivates and encourages an environment of openness, vulnerability, and trust. He empowers team members to feel like they can make calculated risks and share their ideas without judgement.
To other leaders, he offers this advice: “Believe in yourself, trust your gut, be a good listener, be open to ideas and new ways of doing things, and always be honest. Your team is everything—challenge them and respect them.”
Rider Levett Bucknall expertly manages the planning and execution of construction programs, so that hotel owners and operators like Highgate can put the guest experience first and their trust in an experienced partner that achieves their desired outcomes through project management, cost consultancy, scheduling and advisory specialties. For nearly two decades, RLB has proudly worked alongside Paul McElroy. We celebrate his vision and landmark contributions to the built environment.