“Sustainability is a founding part or our work, right from the planning and construction phase of a plant. The sustainable building site translates best practices and innovation into reality, so that our insertion into the territory that hosts us during the construction and operation of the plant has a purely positive impact.”
Like every building needing a solid foundation, the Sustainable Worksite is based on three essential pillars: measuring, mitigating and off-setting.
Starting with the initial phases of a plant’s construction, we analyse the area that will host the new plant by using all the technologies available to us today, including drones. Data collection, which continues for the entire construction phase as well as during normal operation, allows us to measure the impact and performance of a plant’s construction.
During the construction phase (Engineering & Construction, E&C) as well as in phases of management and maintenance (Operations and Maintenance, O&M), we adopt solutions that are specific to the context to mitigate the impact of the plant’s presence with respect to the needs of the local communities hosting us and try to respond to their needs from a CSV point a view.
Off-setting activities are designed to safeguard environmental assets and biodiversity, to balance carbon dioxide emissions and generally to reinstate the balances present before our arrival.
“The Sustainable Worksite is the evolution of best practices from people who, day after day, work at our construction sites and attempt ‘innovation’ by thinking about how to turn normal actions into ‘sustainable’ actions.”
In line with the Sustainable Development Goals
Every one of our actions starts from the premise that everything we do can and must be measured and evaluated.
This is why we determined our performance indicators using the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda as a reference.
Specifically, we measure how much renewable energy we use in the construction of a plant (SDG 7) and how much water we can save or reuse within the worksite (SDG 6).
Then we monitor the emission levels of the machinery we use and how much waste we produce in various categories, reducing both as much as possible (SDG 13 and 12, respectively).
We also work in close contact with the land that hosts us, for the safeguarding of biodiversity, including marine (SDG 14 and 15), and entering into close contact with nearby communities (SDG 8), involving local workers and suppliers.
Sustainable solutions: the old railway at Bungala Solar
The “Sustainable Worksite” is a model we use around the world, considering the nature of contexts that are very different to one another. From deserts to forests, to large American prairies, each territory has its own specific characteristics, which become our starting point for putting the sustainable principles we aspire to into practice.
For example, at Bungala Solar, the large photovoltaic plant under construction in the Australian desert, we put an old railway near the site back in use to transport all the materials needed for the plant’s construction. In this way, we were able to avoid using lorries, lowering the polluting emissions of articulated lorries, eliminating the problem of dust caused by heavy vehicles and avoiding the use of additional water to solidify the terrain and avoid the creation of further dust, a great disturbance for communities.
In other contexts, it has been possible to use electric vehicles for movements within the worksite. A different approach leading to the same result: lowering emissions and helping to protect the air and the environment.
The recovery of waste water in Peru
When we work in extreme environments, one of our main concerns is the efficient use of resources.
This is why, at the “sustainable worksite” of our Waira I wind farm in Peru, in the middle of the desert, we built an innovative system for the zero-emission recovery and treatment of waste water thanks to a mini wind plant and a storage system.
The system, specifically, makes use of the characteristics of a series of ceramic membranes with nanotechnologies able to purify water naturally, without the use of further energy.
Thanks to technology and innovation in Peru, we managed to limit the impact of our worksite on the land, using nanotechnologies to reuse water, a fundamental resource in the desert of the Ica region.
The importance of relationship with local communities
Sustainability is also measured in the ability to build lasting and trusting relationships with local communities.
Like in Mexico, at the worksite for the Villanueva solar plant, where EGP launched the Semillas de madera (Wood Seeds) project, created to meet the needs of communities living in the area.
Semillas de madera was founded with the goal of reusing the 260 tonnes of wood from the plant’s construction site. Our multidisciplinary team (made up of Engineering and Construction, Health & Safety, Environment, Quality and Sustainability), with the valuable support of contractors, coordinated a more than 5,700-hour training programme so that 25 members of the local community could become artisan carpenters.
The course participants, guided by a local instructor, transformed waste (e.g. pallets for the transport of photovoltaic modules) into various everyday objects: roofs for small commercial and community spaces, canteens, tables, recreational centres and furniture for bedrooms and public areas.
“The real shared value of projects like "Wood Seeds" goes beyond learning how to turn waste into raw materials. Its importance lies in the ability to change the lives of community members. The technical training we provide is a tool for these people to decide what kind of future they want to build for themselves”
These are the distinctive traits of a Sustainable Worksite, which is now a widespread model, while also in constant evolution.