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European Updates on Green Strategies

Exporting goods and services to Europe can be a problem if you don't know their environmental requirements -- which are often stronger than US regulations. Here's an update

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What's Greening Construction Businesses in Europe?

European construction companies are encouraged to follow standards and guidelines for environmental performance under the EN ISO 14001 or participate in the EU's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)2, which promotes ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the environmental performance of an organisation.

However, according to a new study, costs and technological difficulties have hindered the ability of construction companies to embrace such environmental practices.

A panel of environmental and construction industry experts has been assembled to develop assessment methods for the environmental impact of construction projects. These experts assessed various environmental impacts of the construction process, including land contamination, waste generation and greenhouse gas emissions.

A statistical analysis of environmental indicators of 55 new-build construction projects was carried out.

Case study highlights indicate the highest environmental impact score are in these mitigation strategies:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions - establish a procedure to review environmental quality of construction equipment, machinery and vehicles, select energy efficient equipment
  • Waste generation - establish procedures such as waste minimisation, recycling and reuse, transfer waste management duties to the building contractors
  • Water consumption - establish water saving strategies, such as leak detection
  • Local issues - establish a complaint management system, e.g. if dirtiness is highlighted, establish procedures to minimise dirtiness and keep vehicles clean
  • Emergency situations - fires in areas storing flammable and combustible materials were identified as a risk and measures could be established proactively to deal with emergency situations
  • Eventually the system could be developed into a web-based tool and further refined with use to take greater account of the characteristics of specific locations, such as residential or industrial sites.

Copenhagen Climate Change Proposal Being Developed

The present commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are only the first step in addressing the climate change threat. The ultimate goal of the UNFCCC is to stabilise the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that avoids dire consequences from human interference with the climate system.

The EU's objective is to ensure that global average temperature does not increase more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. To avoid this, global emissions of greenhouse gases must peak before 2020 and then greatly decrease by 2050.

International negotiations are under way to conclude a global agreement at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen (December 2009) for the period after 2012. The successful conclusion of these negotiations is a key priority for the EU.

This Communication 'Towards a comprehensive climate change agreement in Copenhagen' sets out concrete proposals to achieve this goal. It addresses three key challenges:

  • Targets by developed countries and appropriate actions by developing countries;
  • The need to address the financing of actions by developing countries (both to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change);
  • The need to build an effective global carbon market.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
| europe | construction | Copenhagen | climate change |

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