Since 1993, European companies have been able to evaluate, report and improve on their environmental performance with EMAS, the European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. In 2001 the scheme was extended to cover public and private organisations alike and the Commission made the political decision to practice what it preaches and to apply the EMAS Regulation to its own activities!
In 2005, four Commission Directorate-Generals and services obtained EMAS certification for greening their daily activities. They pave the way for other services in the near future.
Through the EMAS certification, the Commission has now joined the increasing number of European public authorities in their drive towards better environmental management of resources and processes in agreement with the principles of sustainability and sustainable development.
Commission buildings are located at different sites. Just in Brussels, there are more than 50 buildings. This means that Commission staff often have to travel from one Commission location to another during the course of the day for meetings, etc. Nearly 200 service bikes are available in Commission buildings to encourage staff to travel around Brussels in an environmentally friendly way and get fit at the same time. Over 10,000 trips were made on these bikes during 2004.
The Commission has also made special agreements with the Brussels public transport company (STIB/MIVB) and free or reduced-price travel on three special bus routes which travel between the Commission buildings and between central Brussels and its airport. This helps officials avoid unnecessary car journeys.
Find out more about our mobility plan for Commission staff in Brussels .
The Commission’s flagship Berlaymont building which re-opened in November 2004 has many ground-breaking environmental aspects. This includes a water recuperation system which captures rainwater and uses it in plant irrigation and sanitary systems. It also has a gas-fired combined heating and power system and features such as motion-sensitive light sensors in each office, which help save energy by ensuring that lights switch off automatically when the room is not occupied.
Since 2004, our internal building-related rules ensure that our existing buildings comply with high environmental standards as far as possible within the constraints of the continuous upkeep of our buildings and that new buildings which we purchase also comply with strict environmental requirements.
We live and work as members of a wider community. Just to mention one example: the Commission is working together with the Belgian federal and Brussels regional government to regenerate the “Quartier Schuman” in Brussels. By encouraging a good mix of commercial, residential and administrative buildings, the European Quarter can once again become a viable, sustainable and vibrant place to live and work.
Like any organisation with more than 200 employees in the Brussels region, we have outlined an ambitious mobility plan to encourage Commission staff to reduce their car use and take public transport, cycle or walk to work.
In the past four years, the Commission has more than halved the amount of pages it prints a year. By drastically reducing the unnecessary printing of official documents, print runs have fallen from 220 million pages in 2000 to 37 million in 2003. We save roughly 36 million pages per year by no longer printing our internal vacancy notices, 50 million pages through a more targeted distribution of internal information notices and another 100 million pages per year by no longer printing an internal phone directory.
Cafeterias and restaurants have sold a range of ‘sustainable development’/fair trade products since 2003. Each Commission building has recycling bins for plastic and metal bottles and containers.
The Commission recycles 100% of all its electronic waste. In Belgium, our old computers are donated to Belgian charity Oxfam Solidarité. In 2002, 12,000 computers were recycled this way.