Reducing environmental impact

Elia is taking the necessary measures to limit the impact of its activities on the environment, both in its activities in the field and in its administrative buildings.

Soil studies and remediation

In Flanders, since its inception in 2001, more than 220 sites have been studied. 14 sites were highly contaminated and required remediation. Currently, this remediation is still ongoing for some sites. By 2020, Elia expects for all remediation to have been completed.

In Wallonia and Brussels, Elia operates more than 100 sites. Elia actively monitors its sites to identify for any contaminations and to ensure remediation should it be needed.

Stripping and painting of pylons

As part of its facility maintenance activities, Elia regularly (every 15 years on average) strips and paints its pylons to protect them from corrosion and thereby ensure their longevity.

Elia's grid still features a number of black steel pylons coated with lead paint, a type of treatment that was widespread until 1995. To prevent lead dust or lead chips from spreading when the paint is stripped off the pylons, the pylons are wrapped up in tarpaulins before work begins. Once the pylons have been stripped, the tarpaulins are removed and the pylons are painted in the open air.

The paints used nowadays meet the highest environmental standards. When work is complete, Elia and the subcontractors in charge of painting jointly inspect the ground around the pylons to make sure that their activities have not polluted the surrounding area.

Noise

In high-voltage substations, transformers convert electricity to a different voltage and electricity is distributed to power connections. The transformers make a humming noise. Legislation and regulations concerning noise are strictly complied with during the construction of new high-voltage substations or the expansion of existing ones. Elia ensures that noise levels remain below the thresholds set by the applicable standards by installing equipment that makes the least amount of noise and erecting noise barriers around the transformers. 

If, despite the measures taken, there are complaints about noise pollution caused by an existing high-voltage substation, Elia undertakes to investigate each individual complaint. Noise studies are conducted and the results are used as a basis for devising suitable solutions. 

Under certain circumstances, overhead lines may also make some noise, usually a crackling sound known as the corona effect. The electrical field around the electric wires generates small electrical discharges that ionise the surrounding air molecules. This effect is exacerbated by air humidity. Imposing additional requirements on the material used in new power connections or replacements also helps minimise the corona effect. The crackling sound does not pose a health hazard.

If you have any complaints or questions regarding noise in the vicinity of our facilities, feel free to get in touch with the Contact Centre. The team there will be able to help you further.

Electric and magnetic fields

Daily Elia receives inquiries regarding electromagnetic fields (EMFs), especially from concerned citizens and governments. Elia’s policy regarding EMFs is to advance further scientific knowledge and to enhance continuous transparency towards our stakeholders.

To this end, Elia supports various researchcentres and universities throughout Belgium, grouped in the Belgian BioElectroMagnetics Group (BBEMG), as well as internationally via the American Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Elia offers complimentary EMF readings to local residents, and information via leaflets and the website.

Waste management

Elia produces different waste streams related to its activities, including some recyclable and hazardous waste.

Elia has a waste policy in place to collect, sort and handle the waste from its Service Centers, high-voltage stations and its administrative posts. Specific containers are placed in premises and waste yards, and are removed by an authorized collector. Through these activities, Elia can monitor the waste streams and integrate them in the environmental management system. This allows for individual waste targets, and measures to lower the waste streams.

Customer eco-efficiency

Elia can best contribute to customers, or end-users eco-efficiency by transporting more electricity emanating from renewable sources. We are committed to increase this ration and also further implement innovative solutions in the grid to allow for that increase.

Elia regularly organises Users’ Group meetings and working groups. One of these groups, the Belgian Grid Working Group, addresses issues associated with the Elia grid and related mechanisms, products and services that are of interest to Elia’s customers.

Water

As water is not used in our main operations, they do not pose a material sustainability topic for Elia. Notwithstanding, Elia manages the rain- and wastewater streams of its buildings.

Elia’s policy commitments concerning responsible water usage mainly relate to household wastewater (from toilets and sinks) and water used to clean the office buildings. We build internal awareness of our employees for responsible water use, and to use water as efficiently as possible, e.g. via an e-learning material developed.

As water use is embedded into Elia’s environmental management system, targets for water consumption are defined, performance is monitored, and results are reported.

1 Administrative sites

  • At Elia, we promote the efficient use of water and the recovery of rainwater to be used in the lavatories.
    The taps in the lavatories are fitted with aerators at the outlets that limit both the flow and the duration of the flow. The toilets have a 3/6-litre dual flush system and the urinals have proximity sensors so that they automatically flush when the user leaves. A flow control system continuously monitors water consumption and detects water leaks or wastage.
    At the quai Monnoyer site, which is certified under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), water is managed sustainably by means of a reed bed that naturally purifies wastewater, and a 1,700 m² pool complete with vegetation, which serves as a storm basin, a haven for biodiversity and a lagoon.
    Rainwater that falls on the building is collected in tanks. If it falls elsewhere on the site, it flows into the lagoon and then into the Senne. The building's wastewater and blackwater is discharged into a settling tank and then into the reed bed. The clean, purified water is discharged into the lagoon. As well as treating water and reducing maintenance, the reed bed ponds allows a natural biotope to develop
    (orange subtitle) At this site, we are pursuing three objectives:
    • limiting tap water consumption
    • better managing rainwater
    • managing sanitary water..

2 Car wash for utility vehicles

  • Mobile cleaning floor fitted with a wastewater collection system.

    When Elia organises the car wash for its fleet vehicles on 2 sites, we use the concept of a mobile cleaning floor fitted with a wastewater collection system. A coalescing filter treats the wastewater, which can then be discharged into the sewer.



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