We reduce our environmental footprint
We minimise any environmental impact of our operations, use natural resources sparingly, and generate as little waste as possible. In addition, we offer our customers products and services that enable them to reduce their own energy consumption.
In our daily business, we consider both the direct and indirect impact of our operations on the surrounding community. We constantly strive to reduce the environmental impact of our own production.
Our environmentally friendly products and services
Construction has a major impact on the environment. According to studies, the use of buildings accounts for approximately 30 per cent, construction for 6 per cent and traffic for 20 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions in Finland. We develop solutions that will help our customers to reduce their environmental impact.
Focus on energy efficiency
The Nordic countries pay particular attention to energy-efficient construction. For example, many property investors require their commercial properties to be very energy-efficient and executed in a manner that allows them to obtain general construction industry environmental certification, such as BREEAM or LEED. We consider these requirements already during design management. In 2013, we had four ongoing projects for which we will apply for environmental certification. The sites are located in Töölö Bay (in Helsinki), in Sipoo (in the Helsinki metropolitan area), in Oulu (in northern Finland) and in St Petersburg.
Technical building solutions allow us to influence the energy consumed by a building while it is in use. This energy consumption creates the greatest environmental impact of a building’s entire lifecycle. We invest in the upkeep and maintenance services for technical building systems, since preventative measures and optimised adjustments are the best way to reduce the energy consumption of technical building equipment in properties. Regular maintenance also extends the service life of this equipment and consequently reduces the need for new investments. With appropriately optimised technical building systems, our customers can reduce their energy consumption by up to 30 per cent. In 2013, we started nationwide upkeep and maintenance cooperation with the property investor Citycon in 47 of their properties, among other cooperation projects.
We develop our paving business in an environment-oriented manner
Most of our environmental footprint comes from our own production, especially our paving and mineral aggregates business. During the last 20 years, our paving business development has concentrated particularly on sustainability, for example on energy efficiency and the utilisation of recycled raw materials.
In order to reduce our own energy consumption, we track the energy consumption of our asphalt plants regularly, optimise the production temperature of asphalt and invest in equipment that makes it possible to increase the production volumes of low-temperature asphalt. In the production of low-temperature asphalt, bitumen is mixed into the asphalt mass by turning it into foam with water, which allows the production temperatures to be lowered further.
In all of our operating countries, our goal is to increase the use of reclaimed asphalt. In Finland, the regulation governing the utilisation of reclaimed asphalt was amended in late 2012, making the use of recycled raw materials easier. In all our operating countries, the use of recycled materials is regulated by the authorities.
In recycled asphalt, milled paving is used as raw material. By recycling, we reduce the need for virgin materials as well as material transportations. The use of recyclable raw material also reduces noise and dust impacts during production at asphalt plants and in their surroundings.
Our goal is to use natural gas as the energy source at our asphalt plants whenever this option is available. Natural gas is the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly of all the options in use. By using it, we can also reduce our transportation-related emissions, as gas is delivered through the gas network directly to the asphalt plant.
Use of mineral aggregates a large part of our environmental footprint
As a major Northern European construction group, we use large volumes of different mineral aggregates as raw material. For this reason, we have approximately 300 mineral aggregate areas around our operating countries. The quarrying of mineral aggregates requires an environmental permit. We have an ongoing dialogue with the authorities in order to develop the environmental permit process and to find the best and most ecological solutions for quarrying mineral aggregates.
In line with our strategy that was published in October 2013, our goal is to reduce the number of mineral aggregate quarrying sites that are far from urban growth centres. Instead, we aim to invest in large, long-term mineral aggregate quarrying sites near urban growth centres. As the raw material transportation distances become shorter, the environmental impact of construction becomes smaller. Furthermore, long-term quarrying sites allow us to make investments that reduce the impact caused in their immediate surroundings. These include noise and protection barriers and dust filters. We can utilise these areas as recycling centres, when the permits allow it. In 2013, the Ministry of Environment revised the interpretation of the regulation governing the re-use of blasted rock and clean excavated soil in Finland. Consequently, we are able to store blasted rock from tunnel construction sites, for example, and re-use it as raw material in foundation engineering and asphalt production. This reduces the need for virgin materials.
Our goal is to constantly develop the recycling of raw materials and to utilise waste, such as blasted rock, generated as a by-product of construction projects to an increasing extent. We are developing the entire industry in cooperation with authorities and other industry players. For example, we are involved in the UUMA2 programme, launched in 2013, in which authorities and industry players join forces to look for solutions on how to promote the use of recovered materials in earthworks and thus decrease the use of virgin materials and the environmental effects of earthworks.