• Capabilities: Strategic Environmental Consulting
  • Sectors: Public Sector , Government
  • Region: Europe , Belgium , France

Sustainable development: the European Commission sets a good example

Europe - The introduction of the EMAS environmental management system enabled the European Commission to make its operations more sustainable and save a substantial amount of money. Arcadis has assisted it since 2009 in the continuous improvement of this system.

58 million euros

saved through sustainability measures

1.513.000 m²

of Commission sites involved

Sustainability saves 58 million euros

Sustainable development is an increasingly more obvious concern for organisations. The efforts made to reduce their impact on humans and the environment are good for their reputation, but also, most of the time, for their financial results. The European Commission wants to encourage companies to pay attention to this, for example by introducing an environmental management system (Environmental Management System, EMS). Such a system enables monitoring, control and reporting on procedures and processes for improving the environmental performance. 

The European Commission has developed a European system, the Eco- Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), thus setting a good example. EMAS focuses on waste prevention, recycling, sustainable mobility, the efficient use of resources (energy, water and paper) and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is currently implemented at the sites in Brussels, Luxembourg and Grange (Ireland), and in five research centres across Europe, covering a total of approximately 1,513,000 m².

Since 2009, the European Commission has relied on Arcadis to audit its environmental performance and EMAS management system with a view to the continuous improvement of its performance. Sofie Willems, project manager: "The main challenge lies in organizational terms. To move towards a more sustainable operation, various departments of the organization should work together. An interesting side effect is that thanks to the audit, the various departments develop new synergies that enable them to achieve better results and develop new projects."
Celso Sanchez Martinez, EMAS Management Representative at the European Commission: "The advantage of involving an external partner is that it avoids the phenomenon of ‘organisational blindness’: when you work for a long time in an organisation, you end up seeing more easily how things can be improved.  In addition to their expertise, Arcadis specialists also have a new, detached view of the functioning of the Commission, which often makes the difference." 

Initially, the project focused on the buildings in Brussels and Luxembourg, but EMAS has been gradually extended to other countries. "We can count on a network of local experts in the countries where the Commission has sites. So we can also fulfil the same mission," says Sofie Willems.

The EMAS environmental results are also palpable financially. The European Commission has calculated a saving of € 58 million through energy savings in Brussels alone between 2005 and 2013. This equates to a saving of 290 euros per employee per year, while in 2013, the EMAS management costs are estimated at 60 euros per year per employee.

Outcomes

58 million euros

saved through sustainability measures

1.513.000 m²

of Commission sites involved

6 years

of collaboration between Arcadis and the European Commission

Questions about this project

Wouter Gevaerts

European Director Site Evaluation and Remediation +32 486 64 29 96 Ask me a question