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Sustainability challenges for the civil construction industry

A challenge of the sector is to focus on efficiency and its carbon footprint while using energy-intensive heavy equipment.

Reflora Writing team

Reflora Initiative

Published: February 10, 2022


The construction market has been demonstrating for some time the importance of sustainability through actions, reductions, but also with several certifications that have been created and used as parameters for B2B and B2C consumers.

According to Forbes, it is considered that environmental sustainability and the energy-intensive construction industry don’t often go together. The construction industry is a massive consumer of raw materials and natural resources. According to the World Green Building Council, this activity generates an estimated 39% of the world’s carbon emissions in which is key the reduction and offsetting of their emissions. In addition, the financial market has been putting a lot of pressure so that companies in this sector have sustainable initiatives and actions, from what we can already see the approval of a credit line and the release of financing subject to such conditions.

Knowing your carbon footprint is fundamental in this industry, besides being the first step towards a more sustainable business model.

One of the main challenges for the construction market to adapt to the new requirements of the sector is to focus on efficiency and its carbon footprint while using energy-intensive heavy equipment. Therefore, an increasing number of customers, banks and investors are pushing engineering and construction companies to design and build greener structures.

The use of natural resources is another key aspect of the industry. For example, the usage of raw materials like cement is a critical aspect in the construction field. Cement factories are being assessed in a deep manner on sustainability issues which in turn affects the construction industry perse. Some of the main material topics in terms of sustainability for this industry are carbon emissions, toxic emissions and waste, biodiversity and land use, community relations and operational eco-efficiency.

Due to the previous context, ecological labels or eco-labels have been developed in the construction market (i.e LEED, BREAM and MINERGIE). These labels are quality certifications used to identify buildings that comply with a sustainable process while being designed, built, used and marketed. With these labels, everyone can know that it meets the necessary characteristics to be a sustainable building.

With all this, knowing your carbon footprint is fundamental in this industry, besides being the first step towards a more sustainable business model. The calculation will allow you to identify through an inventory which activities are the biggest emitters in your production chain, which are usually also responsible for high costs. Understanding how much each activity in your chain emits is therefore the beginning of the journey.

After the calculation, offsetting your footprint through a carbon credit can cover all the points mentioned above, meeting the banks’ requirements, the investors’ expectations, and the customers’ desires.

And what legacy can your company leave?

We at Reflora are delighted to help you with this transition, and we want to take this first step with you.

Through the offsetting of your CO2 footprint, your company can have a direct and quick action towards sustainability, generating: social impact, helping in the construction of schools and taking children out of illiteracy; environmental impact, in the regeneration of areas that are being degraded and in the preservation of animals; and economic impact, generating income for families that today are below the poverty line.

This is a huge legacy that companies are proud to be leaving to their families, customers, the next generation, and their own history.

But how does the calculation work? Our calculation methodology is based on international standards and a prior analysis of the company’s business. Some emission sources are mandatory (scope 1 and 2) and the others are voluntary (scope 3). At Reflora, together with our partners, we establish which voluntary emissions will be calculated.

According to these standards, emissions are classified into 3 groups given the control that is held over them:

  • Scope 1 are direct emissions from own or controlled sources.
  • Scope 2 are indirect emissions from the generation of energy purchased from a supplier.
  • Scope 3 are all indirect GHG emissions (exc. Scope 2) that occur in the reporting company’s value chain, including upstream and downstream emissions.

We at Reflora are delighted to help you with this transition, and we want to take this first step with you.

A practical example is BlocPower’s founder and CEO, Donnel Baird, is strongly committed to the environment. His business is helping communities harness the power of green building to confront what he considers the biggest crisis of our time, the climate changes.

When asked by Goldman Sachs about his prediction for the near future, he said: “I think the question won’t just be “How do you make a billion dollars”, but how do you leverage the social and environmental impact macrotrends happening among consumers, ESG investors, and others to answer the question: How do you make a billion dollars while driving social and environmental impact? Avoiding the climate crises is going to be a huge wealth generation opportunity.

We’ve also talked to him during the WebSummit, you can check it out on our Instagram.

 

By Antônio Leitão, Institutional Relations; Silvia Andrade, Intern; and Bianca Vieira, BI & Partners.