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About the project

The programme Nordic Sustainable Construction is part of Nordic Vision 2030 initiated by the Nordic Ministers for Construction and Housing.
The Ministry of Infrastructure of Iceland is responsible for the fourth work package, Emission-free construction sites. Green Building Council Iceland and the Housing- and Construction Authority of Iceland support the Ministry in solving the assignment. The program is financed by Nordic Innovation, an organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Building Construction


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

Until now, the main focus has been on greenhouse gas emissions from the 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 emissions may be up to 15% of the entire life cycle emissions. The main contributors to emissions are transportation, construction machinery, and energy use for heating and drying. Waste and lost material also contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions and must be considered in the construction process.

Construction machinery, heating, and transportation rely largely on the combustion of fossil fuels. This has a negative effect on both global climate and local air quality, especially in urban areas. Combustion of fuels produces nitrous oxides, particulate matter, and other airborne substances that negatively affect public health. 

The intent of the work package is to diminish carbon and other direct emissions at construction sites, e.g., by supporting the transition towards emission-free construction sites. Including the use of 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. Steps will be taken to ensure its endorsement and acceptance by the Nordic construction industry.


Report - published 16th of March 2023

Throughout the first phase of this work package, the focus has been on gathering Nordic and European input to publish a report that analyses and determines the general definitions, boundaries, and terminology of the emission-free construction site area. This describes the status of the field today and is a good preparation for the next steps in the area. A standard definition of construction site boundaries and what emissions are included is a foundation for cooperative Nordic development in this field.

Read the report:

Network of stakeholders

The work package has also established a network for cooperation which gathers the industry's 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. Housing authorities and large public procurers are the main driving actors, but industry associations, building contractors, and equipment manufacturers have already started the journey. The network will facilitate brokering events on construction issues.

Sign up for the network:

Excursion to construction sites

Last February, we visited the ambitious construction site in Aarhus, Denmark, The Green Construction Site of the Future. A sensory net around the site measures emissions. Biodiesel machinery is mainly used, but a 23-ton electric Volvo excavator has been tested together with a fast charger from DTI (Danish Technological Institute). 
The visit aimed to show real working solutions. 

Here you can find an interview where Lars Overgaard, the Senior project manager at DTI, talks about the project:

The way towards emission-free construction sites - Online event

An online event was held to promote the publication of the report. There, we also introduced the Nordic network of cooperation and displayed the video from the site visit to the Green Construction Site of the Future. The event's moderator was Hólmfríður Bjarnadóttir, and specialists from Volvo CE and SiteHub talked about their way towards emission-free construction sites. 

Recording of the event:

Next up

During the project's next phase, the work package will focus on future research needs, collect information about Nordic funding organisations and encourage more emphasis on this topic. A report on future research needs for emission-free construction sites will be published. Emphasis will be placed on strengthening the cooperation network and encouraging debate on important topics regarding incentives, funding, barriers, and more.

Upcoming activities

→ Nordic Declaration on emission-free construction site endorsed by the Nordic Ministers of housing and construction and by the Nordic actors in the construction industry.

→ 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.

Construction Crane
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