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Extension A9 Badhoevedorp-Holendrecht

05/07/2024

One of the largest Dutch infrastructure projects in recent years is the extension of the A9 motorway between Badhoevedorp and Holendrecht. Rijkswaterstaat is responsible for this project and used the CO2 Performance Ladder in their tender. The project was awarded to the construction consortium VeenIX, consisting of FCC Construcción and Macquarie Capital. We spoke about the project with Raúl Hortal Alonso, project director at FCC. The Spanish company is among the 15 largest construction companies in Europe. During the conversation, we discussed the role of the CO2 Performance Ladder in the project and the CO2 reduction measures taken.

The project

The A9 between the Badhoevedorp and Holendrecht junctions is one of the busiest connections in the Netherlands. A lot needs to be done to improve the situation here. Hortal Alonso: ‘The motorway will be widened to four lanes in each direction and a dual carriageway will be built that can be opened depending on traffic density. Near Amstelveen, the A9 will be deepened and there will be three canopies with green spaces so that residents can enjoy a park. In total, this involves some 10.5 kilometres that we are taking care of.’

The CO2 Performance Ladder was included in the tender for this project by Rijkswaterstaat. Hortal Alonso is pleased that FCC achieved the highest level of certification (level 5) and was awarded the contract: ‘Working with the COPerformance Ladder is both a challenge for us and an opportunity. We learn to deal with new standards and what knowledge and skills are required to implement such an instrument within a Dutch project. Challenging ourselves this way in terms of sustainability is part of our DNA.’

Green electricity and electrical equipment 

Ahead of the A9 project, FCC set ambitious targets in terms of reducing CO2 emissions. Hortal Alonso: ‘This involves a reduction of 300 tonnes of CO2 for scope 1. Then another 300 tonnes for scope 2 and 30,000 tonnes for scope 3. We are doing everything we can to achieve that target.’

To meet these targets, FCC is implementing several measures. First of all, the construction company is switching to green energy. Buying only green electricity drastically reduces Scope 2 emissions caused by electrical energy consumption. Hortal Alonso added: ‘In addition, we have reduced the use of diesel fuel as much as possible to carry out the project, among other things, by using electric equipment.’

'We have reduced the use of diesel fuel as much as possible to carry out the project, among other things, by using electric equipment.’ - Raúl Hortal Alonso, project director at FCC 

Reusing materials and adapting driving behaviour

Regarding the use of materials within the project, FCC has entered into an agreement with Rijkswaterstaat. Based on this agreement, the old beam structures deployed in the project will not be demolished after use. Instead, the beams will be reused in another project of Rijkswaterstaat. Hortal Alonso welcomes this development: ‘This kind of measure keeps the recycling cycle going, applying fundamental principles of the circular economy.’

In addition, some of the current asphalt will be reused in the production of new asphalt for the project. The reuse percentage is quite high, at more than 50%. Moreover, the guard rails will be refurbished. Hortal Alonso: ‘We have to install quite a few kilometres of guard rails in this project. In doing so, we are trying to reuse as much of the existing guard rails as possible.’

Another measure making a lot of impact is changing drivers’ driving behaviour. On many projects, a large part of the CO2 emissions consists of transporting materials for construction. For this project, FCC developed a programme for the company's employees to create awareness around driving behaviour. Based on this, the drivers learnt a more efficient way of driving, allowing them to minimise CO2 emissions as a group.

The importance of transparency and monitoring

At least as important as taking all these sustainable measures, is being transparent about the actions being implemented. Hortal Alonso: ‘We are very transparent around sustainability. We communicate not only internally, but also externally about our progress in the project in terms of CO2 reduction. On our site, information and reports are shared, and they are accessible to everyone.’ But transparency requires enough and reliable information, and processes must be monitored to obtain the information FCC wants to communicate. That is why, besides transparency, monitoring the project is important for the company. On the basis of a follow-up plan, the progression achieved by the measures is continuously monitored.

Hortal Alonso is satisfied when he reviews what the above measures have achieved: ‘All these measures together have made a huge difference and ensured that we have reached the highest level on the Ladder.’

The CO2 Performance Ladder brings things into focus

Having worked with the CO2 Performance Ladder for over four years within the A9 Badhoevedorp-Holendrecht project, Hortal Alonso has formed a good understanding of the sustainability tool. ‘It challenges us and ensures that we have to be innovative all the time. The Ladder forces us to explore different ways of reducing CO2. These are necessary to meet our targets. This is not always easy, but it pays off handsomely. Reusing beams is a good example. Without the Ladder, we would not have come up with this.’

'The CO2 Performance Ladder challenges us and ensures that we have to be innovative all the time. It forces us to explore different ways of reducing CO2.' - Raúl Hortal Alonso, project director at FCC

The CO2 Performance Ladder system makes it clear which actions are needed to make a positive impact. Besides reusing beams, changing the composition of asphalt is also a great example of something FCC didn't do to the same extent before, Hortal Alonso explains. ‘Materials often have a second life. They may not be suitable for all parts of another project, but there is always overlap. It's good to make the best use of that.’

Creating awareness among employees and suppliers 

In an organisation, it is important that everyone is on the same page. Especially when it comes to a topic like sustainability. After all, making progress does not happen automatically; it requires dedication and energy. Hortal Alonso agrees and says that this was the biggest challenge in achieving level 5 on the CO2 Performance Ladder. He says the Ladder ultimately helped create support within FCC and in the organisation’s supply chain. ‘Construction companies have an obligation, a responsibility. The policy they pursue has to have a certain priority and focus. The Ladder helps us do that. Namely, it makes it easier to explain to our employees and suppliers what we are doing and why we are making certain choices. As a result, the urgency of the measures we take is felt and understood. If that had not been there, many innovative measures would have been omitted. After all, you are asking something new from the chain, from your suppliers. They do have to accept that change. Without them, we cannot do what we do. Sustainability is, necessarily, a task for everyone and all stakeholders have an unavoidable role to play.'

'The CO2 Performance Ladder makes it easier to explain to our employees and suppliers what we are doing and why we are making certain choices. As a result, the urgency of the measures we take is felt and understood.' - Raúl Hortal Alonso, project director at FCC

In addition, Hortal Alonso indicates that once a team believes in the targets, it is actually not that difficult to meet them. Setting specific targets is a challenge, though, and that also played a role in achieving level 5 on the Ladder. ‘You can promise all kinds of things, but you also have to deliver. So the challenge is to set ambitious yet realistic targets. In doing so, it is important to know the possibilities and limitations of the chain. Suppliers cannot always deliver the sustainable materials you have in mind. It is good to take that into account in your plan of action.’

The A9 Badhoevedorp-Holendrecht project started in 2019 and is expected to be completed in 2027.




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Project details


Contracting authority:
Contractor:
Size:

± €845.000.000,-

Location:

A9 between Badhoevedorp and Holendrecht

Project duration:

7 years (2020-2027)

Ambition level winning party:

Level 5

Focus CO2 reduction on project:

Using green electricity and electrical equipment, reusing materials, adjusting drivers' driving behaviour