Pictured L-R: Alex Atwood, Minister for the Environment; John Armstrong, Managing Director, Construction Employers Federation (CEF) and; Jan Chmiel, CEO of IEMA.

A ground-breaking initiative designed to improve the environmental performance of the construction industry in Northern Ireland was launched yesterday by Northern Ireland's Environment Minister Alex Attwood with support from IEMA's CEO.

Launched in Belfast on 26th September, NVIR-O-CERT is an environmental management system tailored to meet the needs of the construction sector. Developed by the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) with the support of IEMA and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), the new system will require participating companies to commit to continual environmental improvement.

Speaking at the launch the Minister (pictured left) said, “Building and civil engineering projects have a major impact on the environment through waste produced, energy used and the risk of damage to our natural habitats and watercourses. This impact must be carefully managed to ensure that future generations can benefit from a high quality natural environment alongside a high quality built environment... NVIR-O-CERT will provide an important focus for companies wanting to improve their performance; it has the potential to raise the standards of environmental management right across the industry, from the largest to the smallest business.”

“I commend the Federation for taking the lead in this initiative and look forward to continued improvement in environmental management from the local construction sector..”

John Armstrong, CEF Managing Director (pictured centre) said, “NVIR-O-CERT has been developed by the industry with a clear focus on outcomes rather than process. We see this initiative delivering significant and measurable improvements in the industry’s environmental performance. This will include industry wide performance indicators tracking waste going to landfill, energy used on site and water usage. It will also reduce incidents of pollution.”

“The initiative was designed to be of benefit to companies of all sizes but with a particular awareness of the need to cater for smaller businesses. We have kept it practical, focused on performance on site, kept the paperwork straightforward and kept the costs down.”

In support of the scheme Jan Chmiel (pictured right) said, “As the leading professional body for environment professionals, we are delighted to be supporting NVIR-O-CERT in its aim to improve the environmental performance of Northern Ireland’s construction industry. This robustness of the scheme is underpinned by IEMA’s well recognised and respected professional qualifications. The auditors approved via NVIR-O-CERT will be certified as having superior knowledge and experience of business-environment issues, giving clients of accredited organisations confidence that when they see the NVIR-O-CERT logo that the company’s environmental performance has passed a rigorous assessment.”

“Ultimately NVIR-O-CERT places a strong emphasis on improving the environmental awareness and competence of people working within the industry, which is an organisational approach we support. As with any system, it is the knowledge and skills of people - acting individually or collectively - that really make the difference.”

NVIR-O-CERT is being launched initially in Northern Ireland. CEF is working with its sister organisation in the Republic of Ireland, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), to extend the scheme across Ireland. Click here to find our more about the Construction Employers Federation and NVIR-O-CERT.