Road-building—noisy, dusty, smelly. Diggers, concrete, bitumen. What’s sustainable about that? Correct answer: a lot. All around the world, HOCHTIEF is building green
roads—and it isn’t only geckos and skinks who can be grateful.
Road-building—noisy, dusty, smelly. Diggers, concrete, bitumen. What’s sustainable about that? Correct answer: a lot. All around the world, HOCHTIEF is building green roads—and it isn’t only geckos and skinks who can be grateful.
Well before the diggers moved in, the ecologists arrived at the site close to Wellington in New Zealand. They discovered wild animal species classified as threatened: skinks, geckos and peripatus worms (also known as velvet or walking worms). No surprise, given that the construction area runs mainly through an unspoiled natural landscape. CPB Contractors, a company owned by HOCHTIEF subsidiary CIMIC, and its joint venture partner HEB Construction, are building a 27-kilometer-long road there, the Transmission Gully Motorway. What the company is aiming to do is build a road that meets green criteria and will be certified by the US organization, Greenroads.
Green roads, green measures: some of the rare animals were resettled in the Nga Manu Nature Reserve close to Waikanae. There they were given large “apartment cages” containing ferns, bark, sticks and branches. Once the construction work is completed, the animals are to be returned to a spot close to their former home where they will be given new and permanent natural habitats. Our team will be replanting an area the size of 700 soccer pitches around the project. Be it plants, water, CO2 emissions or stakeholder needs—we take responsibility.
Being kind on sensitive natural landscapes
Efforts to make roads sustainable, like other infrastructure or buildings, are increasing. Green roads have many facets. When building them we try to keep our consumption of non-renewable resources low. A green road consists largely of recycled material. In addition, we strive to use raw materials whose production and transport use as little energy as possible. For certification from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) or the Greenroads Foundation, a road’s maintenance intensity over its life also plays a role.
CPB Contractors is thoroughly familiar with these systems. Several of its major projects have already been certified by ISCA. These include the Great Eastern Highway, Elizabeth Quay and the Gateway WA, all three in Perth, Western Australia. In that state, the government requires public-sector projects with an investment volume in excess of 100 million Australian dollars to be built and certified in line with ISCA criteria.
Sustainability pays for itself—in many ways
Because of the more comprehensive planning with an integrated approach and better data security, certified projects produce significant advantages for both construction and operation. To give an example: the Great Eastern Highway—which extends one of Perth’s most important arterial roads—was completed nine months ahead of schedule. This was only possible because all those involved in the project pulled together, taking many sustainability measures both major and minor. The team, for instance, used a warm mix asphalt which is produced and placed at lower temperatures compared to traditional ‘hot mix’. This warm mix uses less energy which means lower energy costs and carbon emissions.
Our team working on the Project Gateway WA—an access road to the international airport in Perth—avoided a mountain of rubble. The project has gone on to win several awards, and the ISCA jury praised the extraordinary ratio of recycled material used, thus avoiding unnecessary landfill: a good 850,000 tons. More than 95 percent of the waste produced was recycled. One million plants have now been planted along the route, including 2,300 rare species. The team also worked closely with the local indigenous community.
Green pilot project in the USA
A look now at California in the area around San Francisco’s famed Golden Gate Bridge. There are several pilot projects in the USA that are aiming for “Greenroads” certification. One of these is the Presidio Parkway, the southern access road to the world-famous bridge. This public-private project on which HOCHTIEF is the lead involves the construction of a 2.2-kilometer road through the Presidio nature reserve.
For certification, Greenroads requires comprehensive sustainability management including extensive recycling of construction rubble and waste. In California, sustainable construction automatically entails earthquake safety measures. In the event of an earthquake, the Presidio Parkway would function as one of the city’s central “emergency exits”. Another important element is providing a safe guidance system along the road for pedestrians and cyclists.
In order to integrate green aspects into infrastructure projects in Europe as well, the first HOCHTIEF employees have now trained as Greenroads Foundation “Sustainable Transportation Professionals”. “Every road built encroaches on nature and changes landscapes,” says Michael Kölzer, Coordinator Corporate Responsibility. “We take our responsibility very seriously throughout the whole Group and are making an important contribution to sustainable road-building.” Although much effort is required to achieve certification, it assures the quality of the project and that pays off in the long run.
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