Boskalis is one of the initiators of the Building with Nature innovation program, phase 1 of which was executed in 2008-2012 and involved a total investment of EUR 30 million. The program has now entered its second phase under the umbrella of the Dutch government’s Top Sector policy. Boskalis is also investing in this phase. The focus is on using the ecosystem and the dynamism present in it on the one hand, and on creating new opportunities for ecology and nature on the other. This requires a fundamentally different approach to projects. Interdisciplinary project teams take the natural system as the starting point for a design and look from the start for added value for all parties involved. The emphasis is on shared interests and synergies, rather than on differences and polarization. The years of research and development have produced a great deal of knowledge about eco-engineering, or ‘Building with Nature’.
Eco-engineering task force
The objective of the Eco-Engineering Task Force, which was established by the group management in 2012, is to present Boskalis as an innovative and leading player in eco-engineering and to further expand our knowledge network.
In addition to our own engineering consultancy Hydronamic, all activities are represented at management level in the task force to ensure that eco-engineering is incorporated in the project development, tendering and execution stages. The task force met once during 2013.
The successful application of eco-engineering is only possible if our clients are also prepared to embrace the concept and take on projects.
To date, it has been mainly our clients in the high-end segment of the market who have been open to this. We actively promote the concept with all our clients by demonstrating that eco-engineering not only produces added value for nature and the environment: projects can also be completed faster in many cases, and at lower cost, because this knowledge can be brought into the permit procedures and consultations with stakeholders. This brings projects into reach which were not previously feasible.
It is important for us to be able to demonstrate that eco-engineering has resulted in successful applications in practice. A few examples:
Protecting the coast by creating a dynamic nature and recreation area
In 2011 the Dutch coast acquired a unique new nature feature to protect the Netherlands against the sea: the Sand Motor.
The Sand Motor is a peninsula consisting of no less than 21.5 million cubic meters of sand. Wind, waves and currents are gradually dispersing the sand along the coast of the province of South Holland between the Hook of Holland and Scheveningen, changing the shape of the Sand Motor, which will eventually be transformed into new dunes and a wider beach, protecting the coast while creating a dynamic nature and recreation area. The Sand Motor is generating considerable interest from coastal managers and project developers from both the Netherlands and abroad.
Large scale coral relocation in Jamaica
The construction of the Falmouth Cruise Ship Terminal in Jamaica required changes to the access channel and the relocation of large coral reefs on either side of the channel.
During the work involving the coral, there was close contact between experts on these eco systems. Over a period of eight months, trained divers successfully transplanted 140,000 coral colonies from an area of more than 11 hectares. (See also the case study on www.boskalis.com/csr).
Soft en green flood protection for rivers
Building or raising dikes for ﬂood protection is a proven concept with which we have a great deal of experience in the Netherlands.
Higher dikes often also mean more opposition from local residents, who face major changes in their surroundings. And so we are looking for other solutions where possible. For example, we have planted a willow forest in the Noordwaard polder in front of the existing dike. Rigorous annual pollarding makes the trees put down long and strong roots, enabling them to reduce wave impact by an estimated 80 per cent. This natural solution also cuts construction and maintenance costs.
Protecting whales in Gabon
Boskalis was involved in the construction of a new industrial area in Gabon in 2013.
Protecting the marine environment was a major challenge on this project. An important consideration was to mitigate noise and other factors affecting whales, because Cap Lopez Bay is home to large numbers of humpback whales in the winter. You can read more about the solution we chose in the case study on 'Eco-engineering in Gabon'.
Boskalis shares its knowledge of eco-engineering with interested (market) parties. For example, we were part of an alliance with ﬁfteen offshore contractors, engineering companies, research institutes and Arctic consultants in February 2012 to launch a Joint Industry Project (JIP) and produce recommendations for guidelines relating to safe, reliable and sustainable operations in the Arctic region. The focus was on the installation of ﬂoating and ﬁxed platforms and pipeline laying, as well as on dredging work. We also looked at more general activities such as forecasting and monitoring weather conditions, assessing the environmental impact of activities, logistics, preparing equipment, and health and safety management. The Arctic Guide Report Challenges & Recommendations manual was issued at the end of 2013. We hope that it will enable us to make a contribution to the public debate about infrastructure in this region.
Furthermore, in the Netherlands, we will be using a number of eco-engineering projects to show that fuel-saving measures have both environmental and economic value. We want to engage in dialogue with clients about this area. (See CO2 performance ladder inset text elsewhere in this section.)
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