The Dutch automatization and engineering agency Soltegro has recently obtained a certificate of the CO2 Performance Ladder on level 5, the highest level. Soltegro says they have raised the bar when it comes to sustainability, which is why the Ladder is a perfect fit for their organisation. However, the agency notices that commissioning parties should make a greater contribution in the transition towards a sustainable economy.
The implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder has been a conscious decision for Soltegro. The automatization and engineering agency claims to regard sustainability and social corporate responsibility with great value. “Since the start of our business, we have invested in sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) to make sure that our company contributes to a world that facilitates future generations. In order to develop CSR within the organization, we have chosen to implement the CO2 Performance Ladder. The system fits perfectly with our ambitions to create a sustainable future”, says Hans de Man, managing director of Soltegro.
Creating sustainable tunnels
“Before we started implementing the Ladder, Soltegro was already working on CSR. We support initiatives such as the Ocean Clean-up, sustainable waste management, and the development of vehicles that are powered by solar energy. As an organization, we are aware that we must contribute to the fight against climate change.” Soltegro is a member of the COB, a Dutch networking organization that focuses on collecting, developing and sharing knowledge about underground infrastructure. “COB includes different areas of expertise and initiates a diverse range of projects. One of the projects of the COB is called ‘Energy reduction in tunnels’, in which we actively participate.”
The knowledge gained from the COB network is applied in other projects of Soltegro that deals with sustainable underground infrastructure. In one of its projects, the organization aims to reduce energy consumption of tunnels through the implementation of sustainable lighting, ventilation, daylight grids and the use of a back-up supply system for energy. Creating sustainable infrastructure is more than just implementing energy efficient solutions, Soltegro claims. A different measure that leads to energy efficiency of tunnels is the use of a condition measurement system (CMS) that is attached to tunnel control system. The CMS controls sensors and devices that are present inside the tunnel. This makes it possible to collect current data that can be used to plan and conduct maintenance work on the infrastructure more efficiently.
ICT as an enabler of sustainability
“A recent development has shown that more and more time is spent on the design of infrastructure projects. Commissioning parties are requesting their contractors to apply energy efficient measures to the project and even applications that generate energy. For underground constructions such as tunnels, commissioning parties are more interested in reducing its energy consumption. In order to save the energy use of tunnels, we must make better use of resources such as ICT, which is why Soltegro believes that ICT is an enabler of sustainability.”, De Man says.
Next to the focus on energy savings of underground infrastructure constructions, Soltegro aims to reduce the carbon emissions caused by the organization itself. Thanks to the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder, Soltegro has a thorough insight on which areas of the company are causing the greatest amount of emissions. Research based on the requirements of the CO2 Performance Ladder has shown that 70 percent of the company’s carbon emissions are caused by its fleet of vehicles. “We want to increase awareness among our employees in order to decrease the emissions caused by our fleet of vehicles. Our employees need to be more conscious of their driving style and be able to ask themselves whether it is absolutely necessary to make use of a car. This is why we encourage our employees to make use of public transportation as much as possible. All of our employees now own a public transportation card. This sustainable option to travel has been available within our organization for the past year. Thanks to the use of the public transportation card, we have managed to cut down our vehicle use on a yearly basis.”
Lagging behind competitors
The managing director says that the CO2 Performance Ladder is being both directly and indirectly applied within the organization and within different projects. “A certificate on the ladder provides Soltegro the opportunity to distinguish itself from its competitors. The certificate allows us to receive an award advantage when we enter tendering procedures. Moreover, we increase our chances of being awarded the project with a certificate on the Ladder. When an organization does not implement the CO2 Performance Ladder, they will be lagging behind their competitors.”
The managing director notices that it is becoming more and more challenging to distinguish the company from its competitors by making use of the ladder. This is because a great number of its competitors are also working with the CO2 Performance Ladder. Moreover, most competitors are still making decisions to award projects based on the lowest price range instead of the highest ambitions towards sustainability, claims De Man.
“Commissioning parties that request their contractors to obtain a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder are in most cases governmental institutions. The commissioning parties from other business sectors do not make use of the ladder yet, because they are not familiar with the system. This is where the SKAO can boost the CO2 Performance Ladder in order for more commissioning parties to implement the system in tenders. SKAO can also develop the system towards helping certified organizations distinguish themselves more from their competitors.”