The emergence of environmentally friendly practices. Three analyses in the construction, anaerobic digestion and transport sectors
The construction, agricultural anaerobic digestion and freight transport and logistics sectors are the subject of three case studies that examine in turn public policies on the ‘greening’ of each sector, the development of new approaches to energy and the environment and, finally, the leading role that voluntary associations and regional authorities might play in giving impetus to, guiding and facilitating the environmental transition. The study identifies two competing principles underlying environmentally friendly practices and their dissemination within the training system. The first is based on energy savings, the second, less widespread one is based on a more holistic vision of the environmental issues at stake.
As part of a study commissioned by the General Commission for Sustainable Development (CGDD ), Céreq has analysed the emergence of environmentally friendly professional practices in three sectors: construction, agricultural anaerobic digestion and freight transport and logistics.
In order to identify these new practices, an assessment had to be carried out (2014‐2015) in order to pinpoint the specific characteristics of the spheres of activity under investigation.
The team began by investigating the nature of the environmental challenge in each sphere, the objectives of the policies in that regard put in place since the Grenelle environmental initiative was adopted and the measures taken to ‘green’ activity in the areas under investigation.
The task of identifying the environmentally friendly working practices was then structured around the following questions :
- What impact have the ‘greening’ measures had on firms, professionals and their clients?
- What forms of support have been offered to firms and professionals?
- Has this support met professionals’ expectations and/or accelerated the expected changes?
Construction (P. Kalck), agricultural AD (P. Cayre) and freight transport and logistics (F. Drouilleau-Gay and D. Landivar) were the subjects of separate but similarly structured case studies. The case studies begin with an investigation of the public policies on ‘greening’ in the sector in question before going on to analyse the development of new approaches to energy and the environment. They then focus on the leading role that voluntary associations and regional authorities could play in giving impetus to, guiding and facilitating the environmental transition.
Thus the three case studies reveal the existence, in three different spheres of economic activity, of two competing principles underlying environmentally friendly practices and their dissemination within the training system.
The first of these principles takes energy savings as its starting point and is based on a restrictive notion of the energy transition.
In the construction industry, this vision hinges on training modules closely linked to an approach to energy renovation or retrofit that does not allow the overall bioclimatic balance of dwellings, construction materials, their particular properties or the needs and expectations of occupants and consumers to be taken into account.
This purely energy-based vision also prevails in agricultural AD. The farmers operating AD units are engaged in an ‘industrial’ form of production in which little or no consideration is given to the environmental implications of their operations. Only a small number of training programmes promote a more territorialised approach to AD revolving around networks of actors with a critical and more wide-ranging perspective on the environmental and energy-related issues.
This energy-based vision is predominant in freight transport as well, particularly through the promotion of training courses on environmentally friendly driving. These training courses help road haulage companies to spend less on fuel and thus to emit less CO2 (while at the same time reducing their costs) thanks to ‘smoother’ driving. They are widely taken up by companies and included to some extent in the compulsory initial and continuing training programmes for drivers ; however, they concern only one small link in the logistical chain, namely drivers. Some actors take the view that this places too much responsibility on drivers in road haulage companies’ environmental policies. This case study sought to demonstrate that, in order to make road transport more environmentally friendly, it will be necessary to rethink the entire logistical chain, from production to distribution, in a much more holistic way.
Whatever the sphere of economic activity concerned, the various training programmes mentioned (training in energy saving for building workers [FEEBat], courses provided by the chambers of agriculture, environmentally friendly driving etc.) have been diffused nationally and in a very top-down way.
The second principle identified in the various spheres of activity, albeit to varying extents, is based on an holistic vision of the environmental issues and advocates a more territorialised, more collaborative notion of what constitutes environmentally friendly practices. It revolves around networks of voluntary associations that are attempting to organise themselves, sometimes with difficulty, around more horizontal, localised training practices. These territorialised professional practices are, moreover, heavily dependent on information and communication technologies, such as digital platforms.