After the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, news about what other signatories are doing to mitigate the impact of construction on the environment has been sporadic at best. A recent series of actions by one EU (European Union) construction firms, VINCI of France, shows how the Continent is responding.
For VINCI, 2019 was devoted to identifying actions to improve the Group’s environmental performance in three areas: greenhouse gas emissions, resource preservation, and conservation of natural environments. The various divisions and operating companies determined to reach carbon neutrality in 2050, with a first milestone of a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 (compared to 2018). This target is compatible with holding the rise in global temperature to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
In addition, VINCI will be systematically rolling out a recycling and reuse policy, working on both material supply and demand in each activity. VINCI will also work with its suppliers, partners, and customers to improve the indirect carbon footprint generated by their mutual activities.
Implementing this will involve an investment of hundreds of millions of euros, through actions such as accelerating replacement of light and utility vehicle fleets with electric or less carbon-intensive vehicles, experimentation with hydrogen and biogas-type fuels for utility vehicles, replacement of much of the onsite machinery with hybrid machinery, promotion of eco-driving practices and installation of continuous consumption-tracking sensors.
In the construction sector, VINCI has started experimental initiatives ahead of anticipated environmental regulation concerning buildings under the rubric Energy Positive and Carbon Reduction. They have changed to very low-carbon concretes and decarbonated recycled materials, developed environmental solutions such as the “100% recycled road” patented by Eurovia; Power Road, that captures solar energy, stores it underground and reuses it to de-ice the road network or supply heat to buildings located in the vicinity; Oxygen, developed by VINCI Construction France, providing a performance and assistance guarantee for building users; and Hub Energy, an energy-tracking tool applying energy diagnostics and audits, monitoring, and optimization in energy performance contracts.
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