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The climate emergency is all over the news at the moment. So, why is urgent action needed to curb our carbon emissions?
Cécile Thévenin (CTH) / We know. Unless we make profound changes together to stay under the 1.5°C warming limit, we will have used up our global carbon budget in less than ten years. And it’s the construction industry, together with the transport sector, that has the greatest impact on the environment. As a major contributor to the carbon footprint, we naturally have a key role to play in this environmental transition.

Talking about climate emergency is good, but it’s not enough. Why so? Because there’s so much more at stake. In fact, we should instead be talking about environmental emergency – eroding biodiversity, rarefied resources, water stress, and pollution in all its forms also threaten life on Earth. We absolutely need to broach these topics as a whole to avoid going down dead ends.

To do so, we need to include environmental criteria in our thought processes and carry out our projects in such a way as to limit our impacts. Better yet, we can turn them into positive effects by restoring biodiversity, for example.
What drivers have you identified to achieve the -30% objective by 2030?
CTH / We have identified six main areas where we can act to achieve our environmental ambitions. At this stage, we have set out a path to follow by combining the contribution of these different drivers. This gives us a better grasp of the extent of the changes needed for a carbon trajectory that tallies with the Group’s ambitions.

- Firstly, there’s planning. After all, we have the most room for manoeuvre in the upstream phase to dream up virtuous projects, work on how they are to be used, and improve the operations phase and energy performance. With this in mind, real estate development is a tremendous asset. There should be a significant increase in projects in which we have full control over the design.

- Then, there’s integrating the living world into the equation. Particularly with the backing of Elan (a biodiversity and environmental planning consultancy firm), the aim is to make things less artificial and design projects that include, even restore, biodiversity. This involves re-vegetating building envelopes, but above all, having a better understanding of the roads, infrastructures and utilities and green spaces.

Renovation is also a powerful lever for “building, without building” by renovating, refurbishing and restructuring existing buildings. Once again, the market share for renovation needs to increase considerably, not solely to meet carbon targets but also to limit the impact on resources.

- We must also continue to develop new building methods, such as wood construction, the aim being to build 30% of projects with wood by 2030. The same goes for construction industrialisation and modular construction.

Optimise designs mainly through digital tools to optimise quantities. This also entails developing no-nonsense, low-tech designs backed by overall cost approaches.

- Lastly, one lever that can be implemented the quickest and applied to all our projects is boosting the use of low-impact materials. We can do this by using biosourced, geosourced materials in our projects, promoting the reuse of materials through circular economy streams, reducing the impact of traditional materials such as concrete (low-carbon concrete), and working with Procurement to source greener products.

In the weeks to come, we will visit each OU to apply and adapt this trajectory to their market specificities.

Let me tell you that most of these levers for action are just as effective for other environmental challenges. When it comes to materials, we must consider the long-term availability of resources.
What missions does the Environmental Transition cluster have, and how does it assist the OUs in achieving their goals?
CTH / The Environmental Transition cluster has several missions, the first of which is to define and guide our environmental goals. After all, if we are to reduce our carbon footprint, we first need to measure it properly to know where we’re starting. Therefore, we are introducing an environmental performance management system with tracked indicators and dashboards to help us control and adjust the trajectory, if necessary.

The second mission is to continue and promote, to all employees, the idea of going green and helping them upskill accordingly. We are bringing about true change management to help everyone be aware of the impact of their choices in their line of work when it comes to achieving environmental performance.

The cluster’s other missions are to accelerate and facilitate the deployment of mature solutions for the entire value chain by encouraging people to capitalise on and share experience, deploy available tools, and assist with the development and fine-tuning of new solutions with the R&D and innovation teams.

To conclude, our role also consists in cultivating and developing environmental expertise and positioning Bouygues Bâtiment France Europe as the leader in sustainable construction.
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