Earth overshoot day: the construction sector takes on the climate challenge


30 March 2021 is the day when we in Belgium have used up all renewable resources for the whole year. This is our so-called Overshoot Day. Globally, this day is on 22 August, but in many European countries it is a lot earlier. The Flemish Construction Confederation (VCB) therefore calls on young people and professionals with work experience to choose a job in the building industry. In this way, together with your future colleagues, you will succeed in reducing 40% of CO2 emissions in our country in the building sector alone. In addition to the energy renovation wave, you will be working day in and day out, on a better living environment with more greenery, optimal water management, green mobility, green energy production, circular material flows, etc. In the construction industry, you can make a significant contribution to shifting overshoot day in our country #MoveTheDate.

Moreover, with its "recovery measures", the Flemish Government is investing more than 60% in sustainable building and infrastructure works. In this way, it wants to restore the economy in our country, work on a better living environment and tackle the climate challenge. Not only does the Flemish government want to further accelerate the renovation wave, make our inner cities greener and achieve a modal shift in our global water management, it also frees up a lot of resources to make mobility sustainable with charging stations, extensive bicycle infrastructure, more freight transport by water, etc. In each of these areas, construction professionals are the problem solvers.

copyrights: Tijl De Meulemeester, Jan Heirweg, Dieter Brunee
copyrights: Tijl De Meulemeester, Jan Heirweg, Dieter Brunee

"The construction industry has grown into a very diverse sector. In addition to a hefty dose of high tech, the sector addresses numerous social aspects. In particular, renewable energy techniques, smart buildings and the climate challenge are the keynotes in the construction industry's daily work. The VCB therefore warmly appeals to all young people and professionals with experience to use their skills and expertise to pursue a job in construction and to work together on innovative applications to get our region and environment on track," says Marc Dillen, Director General of the VCB.

Sustainable jobs in a sustainable sector

In 2021, the VCB will once again be investing heavily in its #WERFZE campaign to draw attention to the assets of the construction industry. It draws attention to the great social importance of the sector for, among other things, climate, digitalisation and the circular economy. This includes both the traditional professions in construction, which are much needed, but we also highlight profiles and start-ups that are still little known to the general public. And they are in the slipstream of evolutions in the construction industry such as high-tech and sustainability. Both are inextricably linked since many digital applications help to realise circular construction and optimal use of materials. Just think of BIM professionals who prepare the building project digitally and fully in 3D, installers for smart buildings, specialists in 3D concrete printing, robot operators, innovation coordinators, etc.

And climate and energy, in particular, are indispensable in construction jobs. Technicians from engineering agencies, site managers, conductors and architects are crucial for the realisation of low-energy buildings because of their role in the preparation and implementation of projects. They have to detail the projects and at the same time supervise the implementation in such a way that the energy requirements and the increasingly controlled airtightness are effectively achieved. Now, more than ever, bricklayers, for example, have to pay attention to insulation in the building envelope. Various carpentry professions have to consider the airtightness of window and door openings. Roofers have to consider the insulation of roofs. More than before, the maintenance professional has to take care of the maintenance of installations and the building envelope.

Finally, a building project increasingly involves climate-adaptive interventions such as the reuse and infiltration of rainwater, the use of permeable materials, the construction of green roofs and facades, roof gardens, etc. Contractors have more and more green workers in their ranks and they are using more and more natural materials. Environmental technologists and engineers are also focusing on sustainability and the economical use of water.