For the Dutch construction company Martens en Van Oord, sustainability is an essential part of business. The company implements the CO2 Performance Ladder as an answer to a growing market demand of sustainability practices and CO2 reduction. However, in order to win the battle against climate change, more concrete action needs to be taken. In this interview, Madeleine Schenk, team leader KAM (Quality, Business and Environment) at Martens en Van Oord, talks about the ladder and sustainable practices that tackle climate change.
In an assignment of Rijkswaterstaat, the operational institution of the Dutch ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Martens en Van Oord works on the redevelopment of the Heesseltsche Uiterwaarden. This project consist of the redevelopment of a flood prevention system nearby the river Maas. Martens en Van Oord has been certified with level 5 on the CO2 Performance Ladder. For this reason, the construction concern received an award advantage during the tendering process of the project. “The CO2 Performance Ladder has made it possible for us to enter tendering procedures and receive an award advantage. From a commercial and economical point of view, the ladder therefore provides many business opportunities”, says Schenk.
Rijkswaterstaat is responsible for water safety and flood prevention. As a consequence of climate change and heavy rainfall, many flood prevention systems in the Netherlands are being redeveloped. For the project of Heesseltsche Uiterwaarden, Martens en Van Oord will improve the flood prevention system to create more space for the river stream. This should decrease the water level with up to 5,5 centimeters and keep the surrounding environment safe from floods due to heavy rainfall. The redevelopment of the flood prevention system also creates more room for greenery, which will be populated by the local flora and fauna. Martens en Van Oord aims to contribute to sustainability by working on the aspects of water safety and nature of the Heesseltsche Uiterwaarden.
“Martens en Van Oord has often times worked on projects that focus on high-water safety. The motivation behind our work, such as the redevelopment of the Heesseltsche Uiterwaarden, arises from the changing climate. In order to realize these type of projects, it is also important for us to apply sustainable solutions”, says the team leader KAM. “Next to the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder, we apply a business model that makes efficient use of resources, fuel and energy. Sustainability can certainly be paired with a lower priced method to conduct business. When we enter tendering procedures, we make clear to commissioning parties that we take effective measures into account to contribute to the fight against climate change.”
Most of the tasks that need to be conducted for the redevelopment of the flood prevention system consist of digging, transporting and processing soil. This is done by large machinery in which fuel is the main component. In order to save fuel, Martens en Van Oord applies efficient logistics. An example of this practice is the placement of a roadway of 10 kilometers to transport the material. The roadway consist of large plates made of steel, that are 12 meters long and 3,5 meters wide. These plates make sure that regular trucks, the ones that can also be used in road transportation, can be driven around in the area. Without the roadway, Martens en Van Oord would have to use another type of truck that consumes more fuel. By using the regular trucks, the construction company can transport a greater amount of material while consuming less fuel than the trucks that were initially used to conduct this type of work. This leads to enormous fuel savings, which is essential within a sustainable business. Thanks to the roadway, the trucks can also be driven on a hardened ground, which prevents the wear and tear of the vehicles.
For projects such as the Heesseltsche Uiterwaarden, Martens en Van Oord added a few of these efficient trucks to its fleet. The trucks can be compared with regular trucks that are seen on the highway, but the fuel-efficient trucks are provided with a raised chassis. This enables the trucks to transport 55 metric tons of freight instead of 30 metric tons. Moreover, the trucks can also transport a greater amount of freight with less movement. This too causes fuel consumption to be saved.
Martens en Van Oord also makes use of a loading bridge for the trucks to be driven on across water. The loading bridge is made specifically for the trucks to move the freight into the ship without making use of any other machinery. This enables the construction company to place a freight of 1.000 cubic meters inside the ship within five minutes. Next to the time efficiency, this method of freight shipping also leads to fuel savings.
For the redevelopment of the Heesseltsche Uiterwaarden, Martens en Van Oord requires a certain type of clay to improve the flood prevention system. The clay that is required for this project has been used in a different project. Other materials that are required for the flood prevention system have also been reused. By reusing these materials, the construction company aims to decrease the amount of raw materials that it consumes to conduct business.
“These measures have been taken, because we are aware that we need to conduct our business more sustainably and efficiently. The sustainability practices are not necessarily applied due to the demands of the CO2 Performance Ladder. We conduct our business more sustainably as an answer to a growing demand from the market”, Schenk says.
According to the team leader KAM, the CO2 Performance Ladder can play a much bigger role at actually reducing CO2 emissions within projects. “Based on our experiences with the ladder, we can safely say that the system mostly stimulated us to reduce emissions on company level. It has not been oriented on a project level, and we are a project based organization. This is why the CO2 Performance Ladder needs to be applicable within projects, which causes CO2 reduction to become more practical and explicit. As an example, the ladder can provide alternatives for certified companies to reduce their emissions within projects. Then it becomes interesting, because project teams will be encouraged to strengthen their ambitions and compete against one another at reducing the greatest amount of CO2 emissions.”
Schenk: “It is noticeable that commissioning parties, both international as well as local, have an increasing focus on sustainability. Contractors need to act upon this shift of focus and the ladder can play a major role in the transition towards a sustainable economy. The renewed version of the CO2 Performance Ladder contains many sensible elements, such as gaining more insights in the Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) of products and materials, yet the ladder still contains a considerable amount of administration charges. By removing these charges and focusing on the opportunities to implement the ladder within projects, we can achieve more and inspire others. The CO2 Performance Ladder should therefore not be a mere certificate or a file, but actually contribute to measures in the fight against climate change.”