Construction: what solutions for zero-emission worksites?

In line with the Paris Agreement, France is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The construction and public works sector is also bound by this objective, enshrined in the Climate Energy Act of 2019 and the Climate and Resilience Act of 2021. The main players in the sector are deploying various strategies to reduce the greenhouse gases emitted on construction sites. Let's take a closer look at the clean or "zero-emission" solutions attempting to meet the challenge.

Public works: between 500 and 900 billion euros of investment to achieve carbon neutrality

From the construction of buildings to their use, the building and civil engineering sector produces more than three-quarters of France's greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 looks set to be a major challenge for the building and civil engineering sectors.

In accordance with the 2021 Climate and Resilience Act, " each high-emitting sector " of greenhouse gases must draw up, by January 1, 2023 at the latest, a multi-stakeholder roadmap coordinating the actions implemented by the government, representatives of economic sectors and representatives of local authorities to achieve the targets set by the SNBC (National Low-Carbon Strategy).


After commissioning 3 consultancies, the FNTP (Fédération nationale des travaux publics) has estimated the investment required to reduce its carbon footprint by 2050 at between 500 and 900 billion euros. While construction sites themselves account for just 3.5% of national greenhouse gas emissions, the solutions required to achieve carbon neutrality are complex and costly.

For a start, non-diesel-powered machines are sold at up to 3 times the price, and financial support from the public authorities is, according to the FNTP, insufficient. But things are beginning to change, as demonstrated by the 130-million-euro loan obtained in September by equipment rental company Loxam from the European Investment Bank, which will enable it to acquire and rent new alternative machines running, in particular, on hydrogen.

From biofuel to low-carbon concrete: what innovations for clean construction sites?

For its part, TotalEnergies has set up a partnership with Saria, a company that recycles bio-waste, and will be responsible for supplying animal fats and used edible oils to the Grandpuits refinery. The refinery will be transformed into a biofuel platform, supplying Paris airports in particular, but the biofuel produced can also be used to power generators on building sites.

Kiloutou, for its part, is testing its delivery vehicles so that they can run on gas, which emits no fine particles, or on electricity, and plans to deploy cargo bikes in the city for tool deliveries.

According to Olivier Colleau, Kiloutou's Executive Chairman, there are currently two obstacles to the development ofelectric vehicles:

  • on the one hand, the lack of recharging infrastructure on worksites,
  • a lack of training in the care and maintenance of these machines.

Solutions are also being sought for the widespread use of low-carbon concrete. Cement alone, present in standard concrete, accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions. Vinci Construction claims to have developed its own solutions, making it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60% without losing the initial properties of the concrete.

Some companies, like Kardham, prefer the term "clean worksite" or "responsible worksite" to "zero-emission worksite". The group has drawn up its own charter, which takes into account all greenhouse gas emissions, from the transportation of materials to their recycling.

Colas, a subsidiary of the Bouygues Group, has introduced a number of measures to reduce CO2 emissions on its worksites, including eco-driving training to cut fuel consumption and the use of rapeseed-based biofuel.

According to the Fédération Nationale des Travaux Publics, a minimum of €16.2 billion a year will be needed between now and 2050 to meet the commitments of the Stratégie Nationale Bas-Carbone.