Biodiversity: Eiffage increasingly committed to ecological civil engineering

Biodiversity:  Eiffage increasingly committed to ecological civil engineering

On Tuesday 10 July 2018, Benoît de Ruffray attended the launch of the Act4nature initiative: 65 French companies made or confirmed their commitment to preserving biodiversity, ahead of the COP15 biodiversity conference taking place in Beijing in 2020.

Fighting against biodiversity erosion is one of the major challenges of the 21st century. Since 2009, Eiffage has been committed to a proactive biodiversity conservation policy and has, in many ways, anticipated the biodiversity plan announced in early July by Nicolas Hulot, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, by working to reduce its biodiversity footprint.
As a development-construction company, the Eiffage Group is particularly aware of the risks to biodiversity (both remarkable and ordinary) and the impact that construction sites can have on the surrounding environment. For this reason, the Group adopted a dedicated corporate charter as early as 2009. This approach to biodiversity resulted in formal commitments in France under the National Strategy for Biodiversity in 2012, commitments that were renewed in 2015.

The Group is determined to pursue and consolidate this commitment through the Act4Nature movement, in particular as part of an international approach.  On Tuesday 10 July 2018, Benoît de Ruffray attended the launch of this initiative, at the close of which 65 French companies made commitments to preserving biodiversity, ahead of the COP15 biodiversity conference taking place in Beijing in two years’ time.

Eiffage’s biodiversity conservation policy is based on three principles:
    •   easing pressure on natural resources (alternative materials, economising resources particularly water, etc.),
    •   developing expertise in ecological civil engineering, biodiversity-friendly developments and environmental compensation,
    •   developing skills among its teams, particularly by means of the biodiversity pack tool, in-house training, and the Bioterre professional Masters programme at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne university, which will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary next year. Since it was created, some 40 Eiffage employees and more than 180 students have completed the programme.

Eiffage rigorously applies the “avoid, reduce, offset” approach to its projects: this approach is now being applied to all business lines, not just for major transport infrastructure but also for other areas of construction, including development and real estate.

For the Brittany-Pays de la Loire high speed rail link (Le Mans – Rennes), a very large project commissioned a year ago with SNCF Réseau, Eiffage created and developed 240 environmental compensation sites. For instance, 214 hectares of woodland were planted with 500,000 trees, 8 km of waterways were restored and 280 hectares of wetlands created.
Similarly, the eco-neighbourhoods developed by the Group promote access for residents and users to green spaces that are rich in biodiversity, and help to reintroduce nature back into the city. The Smarsteille eco-neighbourhood gives priority to green spaces: a canopy of vegetation has been created across the site, with significant space given over to local Mediterranean plants and shrubs that require limited water, in line with the International Biodiversity Property Council (IBPC) BiodiverCity® standard. 
In terms of light pollution, Eiffage Route and Eiffage Énergie Systèmes have developed an exclusive solution, Luciole®, which combines a light-coloured road surface coating with smart street lighting triggered automatically when vehicle movement is detected, allowing light pollution to be reduced by half.

In addition, Eiffage
• continuously integrates new expertise in the field of biodiversity, particularly through the development of environmental compensation or urban farming;
• renews  its design and construction methods, with the development of bio-sourced materials in particular (collaboration with Karibati);
• and shares its experience with experts, organisations and specialised associations: partnerships with “Humanité et Biodiversité”, the International Biodiversity Property Council (IBPC)  and the French bird protection league (Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux - LPO), and, at an international level, with the Business Biodiversity Offset Programme (BBOP).