Eco-construction: building a sustainable future

  • CSR


Eco-construction, a commitment geared to protecting our planet’s future, refers to an approach to real estate construction that aims to minimise the environmental impact of buildings. It incorporates responsible practices from the design stage onwards, particularly by using sustainable materials and reducing CO2 emissions during the construction phase, but also by optimising the energy efficiency of the newly constructed or renovated building during operation.

In a context marked by climate change and growing environmental awareness, eco-construction addresses the urgent need for action in order to protect our environment while offering safe and sustainable living areas. This innovative approach thus contributes towards building a future in which striking a balance between the environment, economic considerations and social welfare is a key concern.

How do you build sustainable buildings?

Building sustainable buildings requires a global vision that encompasses the entire life cycle of the building. This global sustainable vision focuses on several strategic pillars:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint: from the design stage onwards, the aim is to reduce the building’s environmental impact by choosing sustainable materials, implementing effective energy and resource management and reducing waste.
  • Taking biodiversity into account: the project must blend into its environment through careful study of local animal and plant life and the search for solutions to limit land take.
  • Regulatory compliance and anticipation of changes: building projects must anticipate regulatory changes in terms of the environment and urban planning, as well as societal expectations, to ensure long-term compliance and sustainability.
  • Social and societal contributions: a sustainable building must make a positive contribution to its environment and maximise its social integration by promoting occupant well-being and improving the local urban fabric.
  • User health and comfort: occupants’ quality of life is key and involves providing optimised thermal, acoustic and visual comfort and indoor air quality.
  • Flexibility and variety of uses: the building’s design must allow it to evolve over time by anticipating changes of use and promoting social and functional diversity.

The overall vision of sustainable construction therefore implies an integrated approach, in which the building is seen as a system where each decision affects the sustainability of the property as a whole. This requires close collaboration amongst all project stakeholders throughout the design, construction and maintenance of the building and during its operation, driven by a shared goal of long-term sustainability.

Virtuous building sites and sustainable construction

In keeping with our commitment to virtuous building sites and sustainable construction, the redevelopment and transformation of existing buildings is often favoured over new builds. This process is in line with the concepts of the circular economy and helps reduce the carbon footprint associated with new builds. By reusing and improving existing buildings, we are extending their lifespan and limiting resource consumption.

The choice of materials is also crucial to this approach. The materials must be sustainable, recyclable or recycled, and, if possible, locally and sustainably sourced to limit their environmental impact. Using innovative and ecological materials such as certified wood, recycled glass wool or acrylic paints contributes not only towards the building’s sustainability, but also to occupants’ health.

Integrating the circular economy into construction processes involves considering the entire life cycle of materials and buildings. This includes the ability to easily disassemble, reuse or recycle components. This approach seeks to transform waste into resources and reduce the consumption of raw materials. For instance, Covivio implements these principles by integrating waste recovery objectives and applying a shared charter amongst all project stakeholders in order to limit disturbance.

When applied to sustainable construction, the circular economy aims to create a more resilient building system, where each component is designed to have several life cycles and therefore contributes towards establishing a more sustainable and responsible built environment.

Engaging stakeholders

In order to engage stakeholders regarding virtuous building sites and sustainable construction, Covivio has implemented a series of recommendations aimed at making all those involved aware of their responsibilities. These recommendations constitute a construction site charter for minimal disturbance. Drafted for each individual construction site, the charter can take different forms and covers a wide range of areas, including waste management, resource consumption, communication with local residents and the use of sustainable materials, as well as comfort and social welfare. The aim is to promote a responsible procurement policy, ensure the traceability and sustainability of materials used and foster social inclusion and integration within the local ecosystem.

In this respect, materials are chosen based on their limited environmental impact and their contribution to quality of life for end users. For instance, the use of PEFC or FSC certified wood guarantees that it is sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Moreover, limiting the maximum noise level on construction sites to 80 dB(A) and focusing on construction waste recovery reflect a commitment towards reducing disturbances and promoting recycling.

Covivio also strives to work with social and inclusive companies, thereby supporting local employment and promoting the professional integration of long-term unemployed people. This approach not only contributes towards achieving sustainable construction and renovation projects, it also strengthens the local social and economic fabric.

By integrating these various aspects, Covivio highlights its commitment to responsible and inclusive construction, benefiting all stakeholders and the environment.


Covivio is actively committed to protecting biodiversity and promoting positive biodiversity through its real estate developments projects. This commitment is reflected in various measures:

  • The integration of biodiversity in project design: green spaces are designed with ecologists’ recommendations in mind in order to generate a positive impact on local animal life and contribute towards the well-being of residents and users alike.
  • The responsible use of green spaces: the choice of local plant species tailored to the climate is preferred, as it reduces water requirements and limits the use of plant protection products, thereby minimising the local environment impact.
  • The creation of habitats for animal life: Covivio encourages setting up beehives and other similar structures to increase pollination and support beneficial insect populations.
  • Sustainable management of green spaces: green spaces are managed in a way that is respectful of the environment, using practices that protect local ecosystems.

These measures are in line with the broader objective of creating buildings and sites that are levers for protecting biodiversity, transforming workspaces and living areas into pleasant, safe and ecologically rich environments. Covivio aims to incorporate the principles of biodiversity into its projects, not only to limit the environmental impact of its activities, but also to improve the quality of human life and resilience of urban ecosystems.

Initiatives promoting Zero Net Land Take

Reducing land take is crucial to combating global warming and increasing our resilience in the face of extreme weather phenomena. This is a necessity, especially in France, where over 20,000 hectares of countryside, farmland and forests have been converted into artificial surfaces in recent years as a result of human development[1].

The consequences are considerable: land take prevents the replenishment of water tables, at a time when the frequency and intensity of droughts are increasing.

At Covivio, we take tangible action to reduce land take, as reflected in initiatives such as the Noème project in Bordeaux Lac. We decided to plant hundreds of trees in this area, thereby enriching the natural environment and returning space to nature. We have achieved this by reducing the ground footprint of our buildings, which allows us to restore precious square metres of land to the environment.

Our Gobelins project in Paris is another example of this commitment. We have transformed former technical premises at this site into green spaces, thereby recreating areas of open land and restoring natural spaces in urban environments. These initiatives are in line with our wish to promote eco-friendly real estate development that is beneficial for the local community and biodiversity.

Operational management – eco-management of buildings

Applying eco-management to a building’s operational management focuses on the responsible and efficient use of energy sources, particularly water and heating, to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. The approach is based on a series of innovative practices and technologies.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) plays a key role in this process. BIM guarantees better planning, more efficient design and optimised resource management. During the operating phase, BIM enables precise and proactive management of energy systems and water supplies by providing an in-depth digital representation of the building’s physical and functional characteristics using remote warning and control systems.

Covivio has also implemented a monitoring system coupled with an energy management service across its multi-let office portfolio in France in order to measure consumption in real time and react quickly in the event of deviations.

The aim is to create responsive smart buildings that adapt to changing conditions and occupants’ needs while minimising energy consumption and environmental impact. This typically involves the integration of renewable energy sources, improved insulation and airtightness and the use of materials and technologies that contribute to the overall sustainability of the infrastructure.

In summary, eco-friendly operational building management aims to combine comfort, efficiency and respect for the environment.

What are the advantages of eco-construction?

As the cornerstone of the sustainable cities of the future, eco-construction offers a range of benefits for both the environment and end users:

  • Seamless integration into the environment: eco-construction buildings are designed to blend seamlessly into their surroundings, using local materials and designs that complement the natural and urban landscape.
  • Considerable reduction of the carbon footprint: by minimising the use of non-renewable resources and streamlining construction processes, eco-construction helps curb adverse impacts on the natural environment.
  • Energy savings and a reduction in long-term costs: thanks to their improved energy performance, eco-construction buildings consume less energy, thereby generating considerable savings on energy bills and maintenance costs throughout the building’s lifespan.
  • Better quality of life: eco-construction projects often provide safer and more comfortable living areas, with better indoor air quality, enhanced acoustic insulation and a naturally regulated indoor temperature.

Eco-construction goes beyond limiting environmental impacts: it also seeks to create spaces that improve overall human well-being, thereby contributing to a more sustainable and resilient society.

Sustainable building certification and regulations

Sustainable buildings are assessed and certified based on various standards that reflect their energy performance and social impact. Covivio holds certifications such as HQE (High Environmental Quality), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council), which cover various aspects of sustainable development and can be granted to both existing buildings and projects under construction or renovation.

These certifications guarantee the implementation of responsible management practices and a reduction of disturbances during the construction phase.

Regulations play a key role in promoting eco-construction by defining sustainability standards for buildings, thereby steering property developers and builders towards more sustainable practices.

Eco-construction models

Covivio’s Symbiosis project in Milan is a notable example of eco-construction. It represents the transformation of a former industrial area into a new mixed-use urban centre that embodies a modern approach to workspaces and city life, in harmony with its environment.

Covivio focused on sustainability and innovation for this project by creating an environment that promotes interactions and fluidity between private and public spaces. The project’s buildings received LEED Platinum, WELL Core and WELL Health Safety certification, highlighting the importance attached to environmental quality and occupant well-being.

Another major feature: the restoration of the chimney and water tower, two historical monuments and examples of 20th century industrial architecture. The basic idea was not just to preserve these historical monuments but to reuse them, giving them a new life and new functions. The water tower will serve as a rainwater collector for watering the garden and lawns, while the chimney from which smoke produced by industrial processes used to billow will now be used to contain air for cooling the indoor areas of the new office buildings.

In Berlin, operation VERT, the 14,150 m² new construction project, places an emphasis on convertibility and was designed as a sustainable and innovative ecosystem featuring warm and bright spaces:

  • use of geothermal energy for heating and cooling, thanks to heat pumps and radiant ceilings operating at low temperatures, which are therefore more energy-efficient;
  • 1,200 m² of photovoltaic panels with a capacity of 100 kW (i.e. 125 MWh/year);
  • a fully planted and permeable terrace fitted with retention and drainage trenches, plus green spaces designed in consultation with an ecologist/ornithologist;
  • up to 80% recycled concrete bearing the CSC label (certified sustainable concrete);
  • direct access to public transport and 50% of parking spaces fitted with charging stations for electric vehicles.

The project is also aiming for DGNB Platinum, KFW Efficiency Building 40 + Renewable Energy and Wiredscore Gold certifications and labels.

Eco-construction not only addresses the climate emergency, it is also a driving force towards a more sustainable future. It represents a collective awareness and the transformation of construction and real estate practices.

At Covivio, our commitment to eco-construction is guided by our wish to reduce the carbon footprint of our activities, anticipate new environmental regulations and incorporate social and environmental responsibility into each phase of our projects. We work alongside stakeholders to develop buildings that are not only efficient in terms of resources and energy, but also contribute to biodiversity and the enhancement of community life.

Our vision goes beyond the construction phase to encompass a broader view of sustainability, where each project represents an opportunity to strengthen ecological resilience, promote biodiversity and create living areas in harmony with their environment.

[1] Artificialisation des sols | Ministère de la Transition Écologique et de la Cohésion des Territoires (