María Stefánsdóttir MV Sjálfbærni
Article - 21/03/2022

Environmentally Certified Buildings are the Future

Mannvit is involved in various projects in the field of environment and sustainability, both related to general engineering work but has also established itself as a key consultant in environmental certification of buildings and large-scale development plans, especially BREEAM. "Environment and sustainability have in a short time gone from being a soft and cute issue to being a straightforward issue that revolves around strong business interests," says María Stefánsdóttir, Environmental Engineer at Mannvit in an interviewed with Icelandic business publication Vidskiptabladid where she discussed the changes occurring in the infrastructure market.

"Today there is still an opportunity for competitive advantage with a good performance in these matters [environment], but if companies start too late, there is a risk that they will miss the train, so to speak. Governments around the world have set ambitious goals of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years, and companies need to do the same," says María.

Steps to take

As you say, many people are convinced that environmental issues and sustainability matter but do not know where to start. What do you advise? "The first step is always to look closely what the situation is today. Examine the environmental impact of the activity, set goals for improved performance, and put together an action plan to achieve those goals. This calls for us to do things differently. The most obvious example is energy transition, reducing the use of fossil fuels and using electricity or another environmentally friendly or renewable energy source instead. But at the same time, there are many things we have no idea how to solve. By approaching the issue in a systematic way based on sustainability, we will be able to approach issues holistically and at the same time receive evaluation and recognition of our performance. But this can e.g. be important when it comes to financing or loan terms."

We need to use circular thinking

"If we are going to achieve the ambitious plans of the government for improved climate performance, then we need to do things in a new way. There is so much we have to find out and do not know. That is why we need to foster and support innovation in all areas of better performance in sustainability in the construction industry.” María says that we also need to look at the methods used by the construction industry and how we can improve them. "Everything that helps us stop being linear thinking and start promoting circular thinking helps. We need to know our resources in order to be able to reduce the import of raw materials, such as e.g. sand. So, we need to research, identify and certify raw materials just to mention one thing, where we can take action right away.