Photo: NCC Property Development "Valle Wood" in Oslo, Norway
NCC is one of the leading construction and property development companies in the Nordics.
GreenBuilt has interviewed Manne Aronsson, Head of NCC Property Development Norway.
Written by Lauren Guido.
NCC’s vision is to renew the industry and provide superior sustainable solutions.
What is the current company policy regarding sustainable buildings?
-We have very ambitious goals. We always have sustainability in mind when working towards our long term goals.
-NCC’s vision is to renew the building industry and provide superior sustainable solutions. As a long-term goal, the company strives to become climate neutral.
How do you act upon your vision to renew your industry and provide sustainable solutions?
-We work holistically in three different dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social, and economic--they are each important.
-We really strive to lower our waste and we are constantly thinking about how processes can have smarter solutions.
- For example utilizing the circular economy for our supplies by reusing our leftover products..In one case, we burnt leftover pallets at our asphalt factory in Sweden, which acted as the heating system. We also strive towards using non-hazardous chemicals in materials.
- Read more about Building materials have a huge impact on health and environment according Life Cycle Assessment (LCA*) and research. Norwegian report by Asplan Viak about the enviornmental impacts of building materials (In Norwegian). Only 18% of Breeam-Nor certified buildings choose materials points.
What are your challenges regarding health and environmental certified building materials?
-To reach good LCA-evaluations we need sufficient and reliable Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). Everything in the raw structure is assessed and has environmental documentation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, insulation etc.
-In addition to this we have a list of all chemical products used for our own work and for all our subcontracting.
Is it possible to use 100% environmentally documented building materials?
-In a few years, we are convinced it will be possible for nearly all materials in the building.
-In connection to the digitalization of the industry, it will be much easier. Today documentation is a manual process. Environmental Product Description (EPD) makes it possible to compare the environmental impact of materials in the building.
"In a few years, we are convinced environmental documentation will be possible for nearly all materials in the building"
-In our Valle development “Valle for alle” project, we have calculated a huge climate gas reduction by measuring energy and the materials.
In addition, we use LCC (Life Cycle Cost) to measure the cost. The EPD electronical system stores the documentation and makes it updated at all times.
-We must ensure that we do all this work as effectively as possible at the same time as we continuously work to reduce our environmental impact.
Do you use LCA in your buildings?
-Yes of course, circular-waste and non-hazardous materials are our main focus in regards to materials.
-At NCC Property Development, we use something we call Guiding Star. This is a structured way of thinking about our sustainability work and goes even further than the standard NCC sustainability framework. Our division wants to be net positive in the future, not just achieve zero.
We focus on three specific areas:
i) Rethink - Resource - Reuse: Here we are focusing on topics including energy and operating phase of the property, materials, and circular business. All new buildings will have the Breeam Excellent level.
"A minimum of 80% of all our materials needs environmental documentation"
-Since we know materials have a huge impact, we focus on materials for nearly all our new buildings. A minimum of 80% of all our materials needs environmental documentation and a description of the material’s lifecycle impact on climate gasses and indoor impact.
-In addition, we require responsible sourcing or procurement such as sustainable management and sustainable forestry. We start with Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) of nearly all materials in the feasibility project and have strict regulations until the building is ready.
Human health benefits
ii) Improve Human Well-Being: It is of course very important that the people who will live and work in our buildings should do that in healthy environments. In this area, we focus on noise and daylight in addition to non-hazardous chemicals.
iii) Thriving Places & Improve Human Wealth: We try to develop inclusive cities. In other words, we are not just looking at the inside of buildings, but we are also looking at the areas we develop. In addition, it is important to focus on a holistic way of looking at things.
If you are at the forefront of a business, you have to create someway new way of working and new standards. It is challenging, but it is mostly fun and a very positive atmosphere for these projects
Are there any particular challenges with environmental building projects?
- When your company changes the way the industry works you meet resistance. It is not so easy. It takes time and a lot of patience. Almost everyone realizes we [humans] cannot continue living the way we do today. We have to start thinking about using less resources. Lower our carbon footprint. We really need to lower our consumption.
"We really need to lower our consumption"
-Certifications are one good example for structuring our work. We have worked with certification systems for a long time; it has become an ordinary way of working. We now have the structures and the routines so the more you work with it, the easier it becomes.
-International standards like Breeam are important tools for organizing our work. Norway and Sweden are quite similar in organizational structures, which is one of the reasons we choose to use Breeam. Additionally, green building alliances exist in Sweden, Finland and Norway, which make our job easier.
Ambitious Green Projects
Tell us about your most ambitious green project.
-The Valle office project is in Oslo, in the Helsfyr-area and the first building of 5 will be ready in 2018. It is a city development area with a stadium, residential area, schools, kindergarten, offices, retail, and services.
-We are focusing on the offices, which are 60,000 square meters and very sustainable. We are using solid wood, which is not often used, but it is a great material and fantastic for sustainable solutions.
-Build A, which concists of 7,000 square meters of offices and service will be made of solid wood, making it Norway’s first and biggest solid wood office project. We have named the building “Valle Wood”.
- 100% of our solid wood is FSC certified for sustainable forestry (see brictets). We strive for FSC certification with lime wood. If FSC is not possible we will use PEFC. (red. PEFC is not as strict as FSC certification.) In addition, the solid wood is untreated with chemicals.
Using wood gives a more natural touch in such an urban setting compared to using steel, glass and concrete. In addition, it helps lower the carbon footprint and it looks great! This project has been extremely fun and a different way of working.
Passion for creating a better future
What are you most passionate about with eco-projects?
I have two daughters and it is extremely fun to hear that they are learning about sustainability in school. It is natural for them to think sustainability. Showing them NCC’s contribution to sustainability and how we are helping create a sustainable future for them and their children is also exciting!
I am driven by creating a better tomorrow than we have today. I really think we should all have a positive look at the future and the courage to tackle today’s challenges.
"I really think we should all have a positive look at the future and the courage to tackle today’s challenges."
Thank you Manne Aronsson and NCC!
Comments from GreenBuilt
Norway is in lead position regarding environmental buildings. 70% of all new office buildings will become Breeam-Nor certified from 2017. Even private building developers are member of The Green Building Council and Breeam-Nor certifies their buildings
European Commission: "Oslo was announced as the winner of the European Green Capital Award (EGCA) 2019"
GreenBuilt is interviewing more interesting property developers in the near future.
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