Natural Capital

The OHL Group embraces environmental responsibility as an indispensable condition for ensuring the sustainability of the business facing environmental challenges such as the depletion of natural resources, pollution, climate change and the destruction of habitats, among others.

For this reason, the Group works on the identification of actions that will contribute to this objective.

Environmental responsibility is regulated through policies and rules on material aspects for the business and for the stakeholders considered relevant in this context. The lines of action for the protection of natural resources and biodiversity are specified in the CSR Strategic Plan 2015- 2020.


The Group’s environmental management establishes the resources and necessary controls for the management of environmental risks, compliance with standards and regulations and the monitoring and improvement of environmental performance. The significant environmental aspects are the basis for the operational control and the establishment of targets for improvement. In addition, appropriate emergency plans are prepared for addressing the potential emergency situations identified and assessed.

Due to the Group’s strong internationalization and the nature of its operations, environmental management is based on a set of common principles that are individualized for each business, location and client, subject to the principle of continuous improvement. Where required, the activities adapt their management to international standards such as: ISO 14001, EMAS Registration, ISO 50001, ISO 14064-1, ISO 14046, the Rainforest Alliance, Earth Check, Eco Check and Audubon.

Environmental best practices are encouraged through the annual Environment Award, for which all the employees are eligible and which recognizes and rewards the most significant and creative actions in this sphere. It also seeks to improve internal communication, expand the existing knowledge and promote the replication thereof in the Group.


The most significant environmental aspects of the OHL Group in 2016 are associated with the consumption of energy, water and raw materials, greenhouse gas emissions and the generation of waste. The emissions of noise and vibrations have been identified as a second level of significance, together with the impacts on plant and animal life, biodiversity and the ecosystems. All of these, together with management, communication and resilience, comprise the priority lines of action.

OHL manages its environmental responsibility at all of the locations where it carries out its operations. The percentage of sales under the environmental monitoring and control of the Group is as high as 98%, with a constant trend over the last three years.

As an added value, the environmental management system is accredited by 11 external entities of recognized standing, such as Deloitte, SGS, TUV Rheinland, BV, LRQA, BSI, Profepa, Audubon International and the RainForest Alliance, among others. The turnover certified, where certification is required by clients, is 53%, with 47% in the home markets.

In 2016, the Group began the process for the renewal of its ISO 14001 certificates, version 2015, with satisfactory results. This process will finalize in 2018.

The OHL Group’s environmental team is made up by close to 200 equivalent employees distributed among 20 countries. This figure is in line with the production activity and has tended to decline since 2014. In 2016, nearly 14,000 employees were trained, and around 19,500 hours of training were provided.

The decision on the Environment Award 2015 was announced in 2016, with the candidatures of Canada, Colombia and Spain selected as the winners.

In 2016, the OHL Group organized more than 680 day-long environmental audits, 20% of which were external. No serious cases of noncompliance were detected.

Likewise, mention should be made of the increase in internal audits in Mexico and the U.S. during 2016 with the aim of reducing risks.

OHL Group turnover with environmental certification.

OHL Group turnover with environmental certification

OHL Group sales with certified environmental management 2016. Countries.

OHL Group sales with certified environmental

OHL Group sales with certified environmental management 2016. Divisions.

OHL Group sales with certified environmental

Environment Award 2015

RESSEEPE Project Energy Efficiency.

1st Runner-Up

Savings strategies through the efficient use of water in the Medellin River Parks project Phase 1.1 GCO312 (Colombia).

2nd Runner-Up

Habitat for Humanity. Waste for housing for underprivileged groups. 407 Station Work project (Canada).

3rd Runner-Up

Capture and relocation of wildlife in the 407 Station Work project (Canada).


Environmental Audit in the OHL Group.

Environmental Audit Days 2016. Countries.

Environmental Audit Days

Environmental Audit Days 2016. Divisions.

Environmental Audit Days


During 2016, 13 incidents occurred. All were controlled and did not give rise to serious impacts on the environment

The OHL Group assesses its environmental performance through the monitoring and measurement of indicators of its activities.

The environmental performance indicators used are economic (expenditure, investment and penalties), environmental (number of natural areas protected, surface areas restored and the plant and animal species affected) and socio-environmental (consumption of natural resources and pollution of the immediate environment).

Consideration must be given to the fact that the activities of Construction and Industrial are characterized by the:

  • Economic and time variability of their projects
  • Diversity of the work units to be performed, the construction methods to be used and the location
  • Requirements pre-established by clients
Futuro Solar project. Getafe. Spain.

This makes each project and each financial year unique and, consequently, the capacity for improvement in projects is very limited. For this reason, the analysis of the year-on- year trend in indicators and the comparability between projects are not at all conclusive for assessing improvements in performance. In contrast, the activities of Concessions and Developments are more stable, however, their payback period together with the asset rotation process render the comparability between annual periods difficult.

In this context, the Group attaches particular relevance to the initiatives for improvement in construction processes and in support activities, the results of which may not be significant in global performance terms but better reflect the level of environmental commitment. Significant examples include: the purchase of energy with certificates of origin; investment in energy efficiency improvements in fixed centers; the reuse of waste from construction sites or the plans for sustainable offices and sustainable mobility in Spain, which apply to the stable facilities of the fleet and the travel of employees.

The involvement of all the employees of the Group is relevant in the dynamics of innovation, through the performance of R&D&i projects, as well as in the use of the newest and most efficient technologies. Examples of this include the Equinox, eGEO, Futuro Solar or RESSEEPE projects. In the last project mentioned, OHL participates together with 24 partners for the renovation of 102,000 m2 of public buildings using innovative technology, with the target of achieving a reduction of at least 50% of the energy consumed.


In 2016, the Group accumulated the experience of 44 projects with sustainable construction techniques certified to the international LEED standards. At the present time, there are 19 LEED projects under construction (2 Platinum, 8 Gold, 7 Silver and 2 basic) in the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Canada and the Czech Republic.

OHL was present on the CDP’s A Lists in 2016 for the Climate Change Program and Supplier Climate Program, which include only the top 5% of companies with the best performance and communication in the world. Similarly, the Group attained Leadership level during 2016 in the CDP’s Water and Forest programs.

The Group also obtained the triple seal: Calculate, Reduce and Offset granted by the Spanish Climate Change Office (OECC), dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA).

In terms of communication, OHL participated in the National Communications and Transportation Meeting, Infrastructure for Sustainable Development, and in the Rainforest Alliance Leadership Summit in Mexico. Moreover, in Spain, the company organized a dynamic conference room on innovative public procurement and its contribution to the low carbon economy, at the National Environment Congress in Spain, CONAMA 2016. The event was attended by representatives of the World Bank and of Latin American government institutions, such as the Municipality of Asunción (Paraguay), the Ministry of Industry, Food and Fisheries (Chile), the Intendencia of Montevideo in Uruguay and the Union of Ibero- American Capital Cities. The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ICEX, CDTI and the OECC, engineering and materials manufacturing companies, as well as entities such as Forética and the CEDDET/KPESIC Foundation were also represented.


Environmental Investment by the OHL Group.

Environmental Investment by the OHL Group.

The environmental investment (3.0 million euros in 2016) declined 34.0% with respect to 2015.

The percentage of environmental investment in R&D&i activities in 2016 totaled 84.0% and was concentrated in the Industrial and Construction divisions.

OHL Group Environmental Expenditure.

OHL Group Environmental Expenditure.

Expenses have grown 17.1% due to the increase in environmental control in Construction. The proportion of the decontamination expenses (46.5%) was slightly higher than the expenditure on protection measures (53.5%).

Environmental penalties totaled 21,086 euros in 2016, due mainly to the effects on communications services in Kuwait and Chile.



Development of Portland-free ecocements manufactured with geopolymers obtained from fly ash waste, blast furnace slag or metakaolin (microsilica and grey sludge), with improved properties and durability.


(Retrofitting Solutions and Services for the Enhancement of Energy Efficiency in Public Edification).

Project focused on the energy rehabilitation of public buildings, through the implementation of innovative technologies in the field of energy efficiency, both active as well as passive, which deliver a significant reduction in energy consumption.


(Built to Specifications: Self-Inspection, 3D Modelling, Management and Quality-Check Tools for the 21st Century Construction Worksite).

The purpose of the project is to establish improvements in the quality controls of construction processes for the purpose of narrowing the “energy efficiency gap” of a building and/or a structure once built or rehabilitated.


Development of a surface treatment for asphalt pavements, capable of reducing the nitrogen oxide compounds (NOx) originating from traffic through the photocatalytic action of titanium dioxide (TiO2).

Futuro Solar

Design, construction and operation of a pilot Linear Fresnel technology solar thermal plant where innovative technologies will be applied in the principal sub-systems comprising the plant.

The OHL Group promotes the responsible consumption of resources and the minimization of waste generation, as measures for economic and production efficiency. These principles are the basis of the circular economy, which seeks to achieve a sustainable, low carbon economy, efficient in the use of resources and more competitive.

The strategic lines of action in consumption and waste management are set out below:

  • Plans for the responsible and efficient consumption of natural resources, materials and products
  • Use of more environmentally friendly and responsible materials originating from reuse and valuation which, at the end of their useful life, will make it easier for clients to reintroduce them into the economic cycle
  • Management of all the waste, giving preference to recovery over deposit
  • Research, development and innovation in designs and solutions in the framework of the circular economy

To improve its management, OHL has drawn up a Water Scarcity Footprint Calculation Protocol, based on the principal international standards of reference, ISO 14046, WFN and the CEO Water Mandate. This protocol has made it possible to prepare a first Water Scarcity Footprint Report, the scope of which will be expanded in future financial years.

As a measure for enhancing employee awareness in 2016, work commenced on the development of a course on the water footprint and water management for the entire OHL Group, which will be operational in 2017.


The consumption of materials and the generation of waste in 2016 were reduced by 16% and 34% respectively in comparison to 2015, associated with the decline in production.

The home markets are responsible for 66% of consumption, mainly Chile and Spain. Australia, Algeria, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia account for the remaining 34%.

The principal types of materials consumed are soil, rock and aggregate (70%), as well as concrete and cement (18%).

The construction business consumes 99% of the OHL Group’s materials.

The percentage of materials originating from recycling and reuse totals 38.2% and includes soil, aggregate and steel.

The principal waste generated is made up by soil and aggregate (99% of the total figure), derived from construction operations. The distribution by country is similar to that of the consumption of soil and rock: Spain as the primary generator, followed by Chile, Algeria and Peru.

In the activities of Concessions and Developments, the waste generated consists mostly of urban and organic waste, due to the operations for infrastructure maintenance and to the services provided.

In terms of management, the Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) presents a high percentage of recovery (30%) in comparison to deposit. There is little scope for improving this percentage because of the difficulty in locating cost-efficient alternative uses in the vicinity of the works. The rest of the non-hazardous waste is managed for the most part by recycling and reuse, thanks to the development of a market for by-products.

Water consumption in 2016 increased 13% with respect to 2015, due to the start of plant maintenance contracts in the Industrial division and the construction projects in Australia. This increase in consumption has taken place in reused or recycled water, thereby reducing the impact on the extraction of the resource in the immediate environment. With the drawing-up of the Water Scarcity Footprint Protocol, the discharges are calculated with the urban waste water as well as with the water from the water table, which is the reason why a year-on-year comparison is not feasible.


Consumption of materials by the OHL Group 2016.

Consumption of materials

Consumption of materials by the OHL Group 2016

Consumption of materials

Types of materials consumed by the OHL Group 2016

Types of materials

Waste Generation by the OHL Group.

Waste Generation by the OHL Group.

RRC Waste Generation by the OHL Group 2016

RRC Waste Generation by the OHL Group

Management of non-CDW waste of the OHL Group 2016.

Management of non-CDW waste

Other non-hazardous waste of the OHL Group 2016.

Other non-hazardous waste

Water used by the OHL Group 2016.

Water used by the OHL

Water used by the OHL Group 2016.

Water used by the OHL

Water used by the OHL Group 2016.

Water used by the OHL

Discharge of waste water by the OHL Group 2016.

Discharge of waste water

Discharges of waste water by the OHL Group 2016.

Discharges of waste water

Energía y cambio climático

Los Ramones Phase II North gas pipeline. Mexico.

In terms of energy and climate change, the OHL Group is firmly committed to the transition to an energy-efficient economy and to the improvement of the air quality of cities.

The Group has set new emission reduction targets according to the Science-Based Target methodology. For the sum of Scopes 1 (fuels) and 2 (electricity), the following reduction targets have been set: 35% in 2020, 55% in 2030 and 65% in 2040, taking the 2010 financial year as the base year. The target for Scope 3 indirect emissions is 10% in 2030, taking 2015 as the base year.

Work has also been undertaken for developing measures of adaptation for the Group itself and for its clients facing the possible risks and impacts of climate change.

The following stand out among the strategic lines of action established:

  • The development of products and services that will facilitate compliance with the commitments of the Paris Agreement: sustainable buildings and infrastructures, electric transportation and renewable energy plants, among others
  • Awareness-raising and training of employees and collaborators
  • Promotion of the use of clean energies and of enhanced energy-efficient technology
  • Increase in the amount of GHG emissions prevented in the 2015-2030 period by means of mitigation initiatives, using an internal carbon price
  • Research, development and innovation with respect to the fixation of pollutants, renewable energies and energy efficiency in building construction and infrastructures

Finally and with reference to the aspects of biodiversity and the conservation of ecosystems, it should be noted that the impact of the OHL Group on the protected natural areas and non-protected areas but with high biodiversity value is determined by the projects in which it collaborates as a partner or contractor.

The strategic lines of action of the Group in this context are as follows:

  • Improvement in the protection of plant and animal life, the soil and water resources
  • Inventory of the protected areas and areas with high biodiversity value affected and of the protection and restoration measures
  • Awareness-raising and training of employees and collaborators, through corporate volunteering activities

The consumption of direct and indirect energy has been reduced with respect to 2015 by 11.2% and 2.9%, respectively, associated with the decline in activity.

The trend of the Group in terms of the sources of energy consumed is toward the reduction of the use of fossil fuels in favor of electricity. Moreover, in 2016, the use of electricity with a 100% renewable energy guarantee of origin totaled close to 15000 GJ, in line with the principles of sustainable procurement.

In addition, the Group generated and consumed slightly more than 7000 GJ of energy from the sun in its concessions during 2016. The decline in activity and in consumption has resulted in a reduction in direct GHG emissions of 13% (almost 25,000 tCO2e) in comparison to 2015, while reducing the indirect emissions from the consumption of electricity by 3%. Scope 3 increased 20.6% with respect to 2015, due to the start of operations of several concessions in Colombia and Mexico.

The Construction business generated more than 75% of the Scope 1+2 emissions stemming from its energy demand, while 78% of Scope 3 was associated with the activities of the Concessions division, owing to the use of the infrastructures under concession.

In 2016, 3,075 tCO2e were offset in the U.S., Spain, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru. The tons offset by the Group since 2011 total more than 10,000 t.

The emissions of other pollutants to the air (NOX, SOX, COV and PM) have been reduced by 10.7% with respect to 2015, consistent with the lower fuel consumption.

In 2016, OHL has worked in adjacent areas or has been located in 39 protected areas or non-protected areas with high biodiversity value. The main impacts are on water resources, the coastal environment, the ecosystems and the preexisting plant and animal life. The impacts are controlled by means of measurement plans and through offsetting actions, included in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

In the context of biodiversity and as a result of the occupation of the land by its operations, the Group has developed soil protection measures on a surface of 1,062 ha and has performed the environmental restoration of 4,111 ha.

  • Energy Consumption
  • Emissions

OHL Group Energy Consumption 2016.

OHL Group Energy Consumption

OHL Group Energy Consumption 2016.

OHL Group Energy Consumption

OHL Group Scope 1 and 2 Emissions.

OHL Group Scope 1 and 2 Emissions

OHL Group Scope 3 Emissions.

OHL Group Scope 3 Emissions

At the end of the financial year, the condition of the protected and restored areas was considered to be in line with the project planning and adequate. The external verification of the operations was performed by governmental bodies or by independent external audits in accordance with the requirements established in the permits, the contracts or the environmental impact procedures. Examples include PROFEPA, the Rain Forest Alliance and Ecocheck de Cristal in Mexico, or the Environment Departments of the local governments where the operations take place.

More information in supplementary documents available on the website: