Zero-emission construction sites

Conventional construction works are important sources of pollution both locally and globally. The construction industry contributes 23% of the world’s CO2 emissions across its entire supply chain, and approximately 5.5% of these emissions come directly from activities on construction sites — predominantly through the combustion of fossil fuels to power machinery and equipment. As the energy efficiency of building use has been ambitiously tackled over the past decade, the focus increasingly shifts to embodied carbon: the emissions footprint of material extraction, production, transport and construction works.

Currently there is no overarching policy at EU level that addresses greenhouse gas emissions from non-road mobile machinery and equipment, as it is not included in the Clean Vehicles Directive. Policies that touch upon construction machinery specifically do not do so sufficiently to address the climate and human health challenge. As it stands today, the EU’s Non-Road Mobile Machinery Regulation only addresses carbon monoxide (CO), total hydrocarbons (HC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), thereby ignoring the CO2 impact. Without a clear regulatory mandate at the EU level, suppliers await a clear signal from big buyers to demonstrate reliable demand for zero-emission NRMM solutions.

Large electric machines are not yet widely available anywhere in the world, but a growing number of machine manufacturers are beginning to innovate under mounting pressure from public procurers and large private contractors. A number of large emission-free machines are in circulation in the Nordic countries as of 2020, though not enough to keep up with regional demand.


The cities in the working group on zero-emission construction sites (ZemCons) were working together to develop and pilot innovative procurement actions to promote alternatives to traditionally diesel-driven non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) used to carry out public construction works (such as diggers, excavators, wheel loaders, etc.).

The City of Oslo was the first in the world to launch a zero-emission construction site, using all electric machinery to complete street renovation works at Olav Vs Gate. In 2020, fully fossil-free construction sites debuted in Copenhagen, Helsinki and Trondheim. Amsterdam, Brussels, Budapest and Vienna are in the process of identifying suitable pilot sites to have their first fossil- and/or emission-free construction sites.


Who was involved?

City of Amsterdam

Brussels Mobility

City of Budapest

City of Copenhagen

City of Helsinki

City of Lisbon

City of Oslo

City of Trondheim

City of Vienna

Support partners:



NTNU: Norwegian University of Science and Technology



A report on key takeaways from the collaboration between the cities involved in the working group

Download the report



A press release on the ongoing and future pilots of the cities of Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Trondheim, Budapest and Amsterdam

Download the press release



Short, practical brochures outlining the reasons for shifting to zero-emission construction sites, for different target audiences.

Download the factsheet for POLICYMAKERS

Download the factsheet for BUSINESSES

Download the factsheet for CITIZENS