Reducing the use of raw materials
Given the scale of its construction businesses, the Bouygues group is a major user of raw materials. Bearing in mind the consequences of its business activities on the environment, it employs recycling and eco-design procedures and devotes a substantial portion of construction-related R&D to the issue.
On the subject of paper usage, Bouygues participated last year in the second edition of the “PAP50 Entreprises” survey, wherein the WWF (France) and Riposte Verte assess the paper policies of 50 leading companies situated in France. The Group obtained a score of 63 points out of a possible 100 (vs. 43 in 2010). It thus gained four places to come tenth in the rankings.
In terms of its consumption of raw materials, Bouygues Construction is working in three main areas:
- Optimisation of concrete volumes: Bouygues Construction is playing an active role in the nationwide “Recybeton” project and sits on its executive committee. This R&D project aims to promote the reuse of all products recovered from concrete rubble. Recycled aggregates are used extensively in roadworks, and investigations into concrete recycling are in progress. Bouygues Construction is also looking into ways of recycling hydraulic materials recovered from crushing for use as the raw material in the production of hydraulic binders. Besides contributing funding, Bouygues Construction makes its in-house resources available (for further information, see www.pnrecybeton.fr).
In order to limit the use of concrete, it is looking at alternative construction methods via several R&D projects (example: “Panobloc®”, in conjunction with the award-winning SME Techniwood) and has bolstered its timber skills centre. The company has now completed more than 60 new-build and rehabilitation projects involving timber construction.
Bouygues Construction has been working on eco-design since 2007, and, since 2009, on lifecycle analysis (LCA), in partnership with the CSTB. This work has brought improvements to Elodie®, the building lifecycle analysis application developed by the CSTB. Using LCA, Bouygues Construction can evaluate a project’s environmental impacts from design to demolition.
Bouygues Construction is also part of Benefis, a public research project into building lifecycle analysis overseen by the CSTB. Benefis will help to improve existing building lifecycle management methodologies and software.
In its dealings with customers, Bouygues Construction factors LCA into various bids. To improve organisation, a specially trained LCA liaison officer has been appointed in each building subsidiary. Bouygues Construction is also creating a database of eco-friendly building products, called Polygreen, which lists construction products according to technical, economic, health & safety and environmental criteria. Building information modelling (BIM) makes it possible to study the environmental impact of different building designs from the outset.
- Reducing the use of raw materials
Bouygues Construction has initiated several R&D projects for optimising all available solutions with a view to limiting external material inputs in projects (e.g. treating poor-quality soil by adding binders so that it can be used as fill).
Bouygues Immobilier is also working with the CSTB
to optimise eco-design in property development projects.
Besides for its home gateways, Bouygues Telecom uses eco-design procedures in various production processes.
Such a procedure was implemented for accessory packaging in 2013, within the Club Bouygues Telecom store network. A 35%-reduction in CO2 emissions resulting from back-office packaging was observed. In its sales and marketing literature, Bouygues Telecom has for several years operated a policy for optimising paper consumption.
Colas takes a number of measures to reduce the use of raw materials, by optimising and maximising the recycling of all types of debris, rubble and inert waste from construction activities, and reducing landfill needs and the consumption of new materials.
Consequently, Colas has drawn up indicators that count the volume of materials actually recycled in its industrial processes and compare the findings with the amount of new materials it produces, rather than merely counting outgoing waste flows or the recycled materials that it consumes. New products developed by Colas laboratories use eco-design procedures that aim to minimise the use of new raw materials, especially non-renewables.
Colas has long been a driving force in the design and marketing to customers of eco-friendly alternatives (chiefly by resizing structures to reduce the amount of materials used), and the development of eco-comparing tools for assessing alternatives. These efforts have been instrumental in the production of Seve®, an eco-comparing software tool used by the roads industry in France that includes a materials saving indicator. Colas played a key role in developing the application and making it available to the industry and to customers. Eco-friendly alternatives offer better energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions than baseline solutions.
Thus, Colas measures savings of raw materials rather than tracking total consumption. Interpreting total consumption data can be complex because some figures rise in line with sales while others fall according to market trends, e.g. bitumen consumption, the shift towards service and maintenance activities, or expansion into new activities:
- the increase in the production of recycled materials tracks the rise in aggregates production, without an improvement in the ratio between the two.
- Conversely, the decline in tonnage representing recycled asphalt mixes is far less steep than the drop in the total production of asphalt mixes, leading to a continued rise in the rate of recycling.
Initiatives to reduce the use of raw materials are part of a wider-ranging policy to optimise construction costs.
At TF1, paper consumption is a key consideration with regard to the environmental footprint of its Metronews subsidiary.
In the period under review, printing the newspaper required 7,625 tonnes of paper, equating to a monthly average of 635 tonnes. Usage is monitored to optimise both the volume of paper consumed and distances between print works and distribution points.
In its guidelines to maintenance service providers, TF1
bans the use of substances that are harmful to the environment.
(Updated: January 2016)