Emission-free Construction Sites

Want to join our network on emission-free construction sites?

The Nordic countries are among the first in the world pursuing to set normative limits for the emission of buildings. With the work package on Emission-Free Construction Sites, we are going into depth with one of the modules in the life cycle of a building - the construction phase.

Until now, the main focus has been on emissions from production of building materials and the operational phase of buildings. This is changing as recent studies show that construction phase emissions are a substantial part of the whole life cycle emissions.

In buildings where emissions from the operational phase have been minimised, construction process emission may be up to 15% of the whole life cycle emissions. Here, the main contributors of emissions are transportation, construction machinery and energy use for heating and drying. Waste and lost material also contribute to increased emissions and must be taken into account in the construction phase.

The intent of the work package is, therefore, to diminish carbon and other direct emissions at construction sites e.g. by using emission-free power sources and planning the seasonal use of heat and light at construction sites, but also through the development of logistical solutions to conserve transportation and handling resources in a way that diminishes emissions and resource usage.

Currently, none of the Nordic countries has set normative criteria for emission-free construction sites, and the Nordics thus have a unique opportunity to harmonise regulations and guidelines.

To create support, visibility and a solid foundation for an increased focus on low carbon construction including emission-free construction sites, a common Nordic declaration will be formulated and steps will be taken to ensure its endorsement and acceptance by the Nordic construction industry.


Report on how to define the construction site

Throughout the first phase of this work package, the focus has been on gathering Nordic and European input to publish a report which analyses and determines the general definitions, boundaries and terminology of the emission-free construction site area.

The report describes the status of the field today, and acts as a preparation for next steps in the area as a common definition of construction site boundaries and what emissions are included, is a foundation for collaborative Nordic development in this field.

Read the report on emissionfree construction sites here.

Join a network of collaboration

The work package has established a network for collaboration, which gathers the industry stakeholders to share and gather information on innovations, gains and prospects. There is a great interest in emission reduction in the construction process among actors in the value chain. The network will facilitate brokering events on construction issues. Sign up to join the network here.

Explore emission-free construction sites

View the excursion to an emission-free construction site where material from the virtual visit was used to show real working solutions.

Nordic Ministerial Declaration

A new Nordic Declaration on low carbon construction and circular principles in the construction sector has just been approved and endorsed by the Nordic Ministers of Housing and Construction. 

Read more about the Nordic Declaration on low carbon construction from September 2023 here.

Upcoming activities

During the next phase of the project, the work package will focus on future research needs, collect information about Nordic funding organisations and encourage more emphasis on this topic. Emphasis will be placed on strengthening the network of collaboration and encouraging debate on important topics regarding incentives, funding and barriers.

  • Encourage and facilitate Nordic research and innovation to support emission-free construction sites
  • Encourage and facilitate the development of guidelines for procurers and construction companies on emission-free construction sites and produce an online guide
  • Report on main barriers and recommendations to emission-free construction sites in the Nordic countries
  • Report on future research needed
Work package responsible

The Ministry of Infrastructure of Iceland

Björn Karlsson
Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Infrastructure and associated professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iceland
Associated partners: 
Green Building Council Iceland and the Housing and Construction Authority of Iceland

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