Road construction and maintenance requires a huge amount of materials – non-renewable resources such as bitumen, aggregates and other additives. A large amount of energy is also required to produce, transport and lay the materials. Handling these natural resources with care, including finding sustainable alternatives, is important. Acting sustainably means not using a resource faster than it can replace itself, not producing anything faster than it can be broken down by nature, not disrupting the ecological balance, ensuring everyone’s wellbeing and using resources wisely.
It also refers to a smart approach when working with aggregates. Our rock, stone and gravel quarries might be considered eyesores in the landscape, but they are actually essential for a well-functioning society. Without construction materials, it would be impossible to build roads, schools, hospitals, ports, railways, housing and all of the other fundamental building blocks of the world we live and work in. But we are obviously committed to producing these materials wisely. One example is not only the actual existence of our quarries, but also the high number of quarries, because the distance the material is transported has a clear environmental impact.
Three dimensions of sustainable development
For us, sustainability is far more than reducing emissions. As part of our Smart Choices concept, we are developing products and services that reduce environment impacts using a lifecycle perspective. We are also reviewing how we manage materials and waste in our projects and how we can ensure the health and safety of our employees.
All three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – are equally important for us. And all three are in focus when we build and develop products, conduct our business, hire new employees and interact with colleagues, stakeholders and the local community. Added value for all – no more, no less!
In our asphalt operations, we are focused on developing and optimizing three key areas of asphalt production; reduced use of fossil fuels, increased energy efficiency and increased recycling to conserve natural resources. This has led to a sharp decrease in CO₂ emissions in recent years.
In our aggregate operations, we are working on several parallel fronts. We are developing environmental product declarations (EPD) for our quarries, as for other parts of our operations. And we apply the Sustainable Worksite concept, like on many other NCC worksites.
We have also launched the Kielo concept to ensure that our quarries preserve and promote biodiversity. What many people don’t know is that a large number of animal and plant species are often out-competed by other species in the natural environment. But they can find a secure habitat in the quarries where they can live relatively undisturbed. Peregrine falcons and sand martins are some of the species that have found a haven in our quarries.
/Frank Pettrém, Nordic Head of Business Support & Operations Development, NCC Industry