How can a construction site be completely fossil free?

Emission-free construction sites – green deal agreement for sustainable procurement

Keywords

zero emissions, building and construction, construction sites, heavy machinery and equipment, green deal, public procurement, climate work, procurement methods, Ministry of the Environment, local authorities

The non-binding green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites was published in autumn 2020. The goal of the agreement is to reduce emissions from contracting entities’ construction sites over a long period of time. So far, the agreement has been signed by six major public contracting entities. Anyone can apply the principles of the concept without being a green deal member, but working with others provides more impactful results which are easier for organisations to anticipate.

  • 10 years. Ambitious goals for emission-free construction sites have been set for the next 10 years. The concept supports the implementation and site-specific application of environmental requirements that contribute to these goals.
  • 100+. The joint dialogue on emission-free construction sites with stakeholders attracted over 100 participants in February 2021. The results of the dialogue were used to amend environmental requirements which will be introduced later.
  • 25%. Emissions from transport and operations on construction sites account for 25% of annual greenhouse gas emissions caused by construction activities. This concept gives organisations concrete instructions on how to reduce emissions.

This solution is right for you if

  • you are in charge of construction at a green deal member organisation or work as an expert in construction projects and you are looking for more information about environmental criteria;
  • you work in an expert role at a non-green deal member organisation and you are looking for examples or more information about environmental criteria;
  • you work as a contractor and you want to learn more about emission-free methods to apply on a construction site; or
  • you want to learn more about monitoring and verifying the machinery and equipment used on emission-free work sites.

BASIC FACTS

  • Project parties: KEINO Competence Centre for Sustainable and Innovative Public Procurement, City of Helsinki, City of Espoo, City of Vantaa, City of Turku, Senate Properties, Helsinki Region Environmental Services HSY
  • New public sector organisations are encouraged to join the Agreement on a broad front.
  • Time frame: 2020-2030

The green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites launched a long-term joint development project towards less emissions from construction sites

The national green deal Agreement was published in autumn 2020.

Made between the Ministry of the Environment and public contracting entities, the Agreement contributes to Finland’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035. Procurement decisions can have an impact on a significant proportion of emissions from construction sites and support the achievement of the target of net zero carbon. The green deal agreement focuses on emission category requirements for heavy machinery and transport as well as promoting low-emission motive power types. The purpose of the agreement is to increase the proportion of low-emission heavy machinery and to promote the introduction of new practices and tools both on construction sites and in procurement processes.

Fossil-free targets for construction sites have been set for 10 years.

The concept supports the achievement of the agreement’s targets while helping other organisations reduce emissions

The concept of emission-free construction sites has been drawn up as part of the green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites and the HNRY project. The concept supports the implementation of the green deal agreement, but it can also be used by non-green deal members.

The concept provides an overview of principles and practices which are used to reduce emissions from construction sites. The goal of the concept is to reduce emissions, harmful exhaust gases and noise from construction sites. The concept does not cover aspects such as the carbon footprint of building materials or life cycle emissions from construction.

Where applicable, the concept of emission-free construction sites can be used for example in the following applications done in-house or contracted by contracting entities:

  • in-house maintenance works;
  • in-house building and construction (infrastructure and housing); and
  • tendered maintenance works and projects.

A more detailed framework has been defined as part of the organisations’ own strategies and, for example, in the implementation plans of the contracting entities of the member organisations of the green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites.

The concept of emission-free construction sites supports the non-binding green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites made in 2020. Contracting entities which have not signed the Agreement can use the tools provided by the concept to reduce emissions from their construction sites.

There are three types of environmental requirements laid down in the concept:

  1. Minimum requirements for heavy machinery based on the green deal agreement.
  2. Methods to promote alternative motive power types (electricity, biogas, hydrogen).
  3. Other environmental requirements, such as environmental management systems and contract-specific environmental plans.

The concept also contains guidelines and recommendations on how heavy machinery operators can adopt low-emission practices.

Great results through engaging in market dialogue and applying the principles of the concept

The concept does not include direct recommendations on which environmental criteria to adopt, and each organisation must adapt the content of the concept to fit their individual targets and market environment.

The development of the green deal agreement and the concept of emission-free construction sites was boosted by empirical knowledge gained from the low-emission pilot construction sites of the cities of Helsinki and Espoo. Information gained from the pilot projects has been used to develop specifics such as procurement criteria, monitoring, fleet lists and market dialogue. Organisations wishing to promote skills on emission-free construction sites can apply the concept’s environmental requirements and practices in any pilot projects or contracts they might have.

Each year, the member organisations of the green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites engage in joint market dialogues, in which they discuss the requirements and their scopes in more detail. By joining the green deal agreement for emission-free construction sites, contracting entities can participate in the joint development project.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGES

  • Goals are the first step towards the implementation stage and only the beginning of the long-term development work.
  • Defining the final environmental criteria requires engaging in dialogue and working with companies. If necessary, there is room for adjustments to be made to ensure that the requirements are relevant and that they can be met.
  • Anyone can apply the principles of the concept without being a green deal member, but working with others provides more impactful results which are easier for organisations to anticipate.
  • Cities/municipalities/organisations can pick and choose the practices that best suit their procurement strategies and construction projects from the concept.

Publications

Concept of emission-free construction sites, version 1.0

The joint concept of emission-free construction sites and procurement criteria will be developed further as the progressive targets laid down in agreement are met. Member organisations provide training to their customers and other key target groups in the application of the principles of the concept of emission-free construction sites and joint procurement criteria.

The green deal agreement sets forth ambitious joint targets and actions we all need to take to meet the targets. Different parties are strongly committed to working together and under the same rules, and this is also supported by the concept of emission-free construction sites. The green deal agreement offers contracting entities a concrete method of promoting their own net-zero carbon targets while also providing advice and tools that support their work in practice. Sharing experiences and lessons learned and engaging in a dialogue with the market play a key role. Agreements help us to create a long-term vision, towards which we need to take the activities and the market to pave the way for everyone towards a new zero-emission operating mode.”

– Leena-Kaisa Piekkari, Specialist, Ministry of the Environment of Finland
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