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4 building blocks for sustainability - Block 1

Block 1: Why sustainability? Regulations and requirements

Welcome to the world of sustainability. In this article series, Peikko presents 4 building blocks for sustainability to make the construction sector more environmentally friendly.

This article presents the underlying factors driving the companies in the construction sector towards more sustainable operations and presents the industry's most important regulations and standards.


Customers and the market lead the way

Companies have always been guided by the law of supply and demand. The one who succeeds in business is the one who offers the customer what he wants. Even more successful is the one who recognizes the customer's need already at the stage when the customer has not yet put it into words. The requirement of environmental friendliness does not only apply to material suppliers or construction companies in the construction industry but has recently expanded to developers as well. The buildings’ whole-life carbon footprint is subject to continuous interest, and the environmental certificates of the buildings determine how well the goals of a low carbon footprint are achieved. These certifications are worth pursuing; the end users of buildings – both companies and individuals – are nowadays more and more environmentally aware and make choices taking environmental aspects into account.

The materials used in the building play an important role in the building's environmental friendliness. As a supplier, Peikko strives to reduce emissions both in its own production and also by manufacturing products and solutions that help customers achieve their environmental goals. Among these solutions, the use of recycled steel, optimization of material use in hybrid structures, and demountable connections according to the circular economy principle are concrete examples of Peikko's operations.

Since 1965, Peikko has understood the importance of listening to its customers, and most of the solutions developed and innovated by Peikko arise from a concrete problem or challenge of the customers. These solutions aim at solving the problems of today but also the ones of the future.


Legislation drives the change

Improving the operations alone is not enough to meet the worldwide targets of emissions reduction for fighting climate change. This is where the regulations and legislation step into the picture.

For several years, the European Union has been doing long-term work for environmental goals. EU’s climate strategy is called the Green Deal – it is a package of policies, initiatives, and communication activities to push the entire market into climate-neutral operations.

Steel and construction sectors being the ones responsible for a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions are now undergoing important changes. EU's whole-life carbon roadmap is a tool for bringing the building sector carbon-neutral by 2050. The roadmap is a strategic tool to tie together all the initiatives inside the EU to ensure they are pushing in the same direction.

Inside the EU, the construction sector's sustainability work is seen both on product and building levels.


Product level examples:

EU Ecodesign – how products should be designed in a more sustainable way. For instance, energy efficiency and material waste are considered. The products not fulfilling the standard are not accepted in the market.

Construction Product Regulation (CPR) – how companies should communicate about their products and their environmental friendliness, certificates, etc. CPR lays down harmonized rules for the marketing of construction products in the EU.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) – discloses product life cycle environmental performance. In many European projects, EPDs are a standard requirement for the products used.


Building level examples:

EU Taxonomy – Companies’ operations and activities are classified based on how sustainable they are. EU Taxonomy defines what it requires for each activity to be green or sustainable.

The Energy Performance Buildings Directive (EPBD) – aims to improve the energy performance of buildings within the European Union, considering outdoor climatic and local conditions, as well as indoor climate requirements and cost-effectiveness. The EPBD considers the whole life carbon point of view of a building.

The Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) – sets ambitious targets for the member states to reduce their energy consumption.


Besides the actions taken inside the EU, the union is also paying attention to the products and materials from outside. Imported products need to lower their carbon footprint which notation has led to the development of the CBAM, Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. It ensures that the products and materials entering the European Union are in unison with the ones from inside and that the import of carbon-positive steel is heavily restricted. This, in turn, drives the companies inside the union to find more sustainable suppliers.

Thanks to the legislation, the EU market is a frontrunner in low-carbon steel. What is done inside the EU also gives a push to other markets such as China and the US – the global market will slowly change.

In addition to regulations and standards, the EU offers its member states and companies in the trading area various incentives that make everyday life easier and gently guide them in the right direction - not with a stick but with a carrot. The incentives also enable the environmental efforts of small companies, although they may not be enough to change the overall direction of the industry.

Peikko already complies with the most common regulations in the construction industry and meets industry requirements, which serves as a basis for new innovations and enables development and continuous improvement. Peikko’s products and manufacturing units have EPDs as standard, and they are third-party verified as required by ISO 14025 Type III EPDs.


Go the extra mile – forerunners lead the industry

A forerunner is the one who shows the way and creates something new. The prerequisite for being a pioneer is that the basics are already in order. Those companies that adopt regulations and standards as part of their operations only out of necessity will also act as followers in the development of the industry.


We in the building industry need to be innovative in creating solutions that are good for people, economical, and yet ecological. We need to provide products and solutions that greatly improve the sustainability of buildings during their whole life cycle. In addition, by providing our customers with products manufactured by using recycled raw materials with lower CO2 emissions in the process, even challenging environmental targets can be achieved sooner than expected.

You are welcome to find out more about sustainability building blocks in our next article!