The model conceived by Enel Green Power to build new plants and refurbish existing ones has been rechristened 'sustainable worksite'. The Guardian, as part of its editorial partnership with Enel, has published an article on this cutting-edge model that places sustainability at the centre of all the various stages of planning and execution of construction efforts, combining environmental protection, rational use of resources, the involvement of local communities and areas and a focus on the health and safety of workers.
Examples of sustainable worksites are found in Europe and Latin America. The first pilot projects were implemented in 2014 in Italy, to refurbish the San Pellegrino and Mura hydropower plants, and to this end Enel Green Power has drawn up a catalogue of actions that must take place in order for a worksite to be defined as sustainable. The experiment then became a model used for the construction of the Dominica wind farm in Mexico, the Valle de los Vientos wind farm in Chile and the Apiacas hydropower project in Brazil, as well as for refurbishing renewable plants in Italy.
The objectives of a sustainable worksite can be summarised in four main points:
- engage the local region in a way that enhances its value (integrated architecture, accessible parks and paths);
- respect nature (emissions reduction and possible offsets, use of biodegradable oils and biocompatible paint, study of flora and fauna in order to avoid impacting the ecosystem);
- support local economies (local suppliers and workforce);
- limit acoustic, visual and environmental impacts (on-site reuse of excavated material to reduce trips to landfills; employing techniques and technologies that reduce the need for water, energy and space).
Everything done on the worksite takes place with an eye to sustainability, from selecting materials, to environmentally friendly management of the worksite once construction begins and the daily functioning of the plant once it is operational. The sustainable worksite model also provides for constant monitoring of operations, which has the aim of mapping environmental performance within the worksites, aiding improvements and helping to create a virtuous and effective partnership with both contractors and suppliers.
The air, water, and land receive care and attention during all operations carried out at the worksite. These include not only offsetting carbon dioxide emitted by machinery, but also the use of environmentally friendly paint and flooring, biodegradable machine oils, recyclable materials, systems for washing and recycling concrete, plant-based abrasives for sanding and low-carbon or short chain delivery products.