The Company has adopted a philosophy of Going Green, which requires every level of the Company to adopt and implement an eco-friendly concept in all standards, systems, processes and practices used in its construction work. Our green initiatives range from eco-friendly designs and construction procedures to paper re-use to tree planting.
From a design perspective, we have had the opportunity to contribute our expertise in several bridge and building designs for making these projects more environmentally friendly. In the Trincomalee Integrated Infrastructure Project, we designed five major bridges where we used high strength Grade 50 concrete for the superstructure and high strength strands, selected the most economical beam sections and introduced couplers instead of reinforcement lapping in order to reduce the use of material, introduced re-usable materials and used local resources as much as possible. To control slope erosion we used river bank protection with Reno mattresses and rubble pitching, river training works and Gabion retaining walls. When designing buildings, we have adopted techniques such as multi-functional spaces at intermediate floor levels, maximum utilization of natural ventilation and lighting, ‘Passive Solar Building Design’, increasing efficiency of lighting systems and AC systems, water conservation and rainwater harvesting.
During the last year, we carried out two construction projects in the dry zone of the country, namely construction of Aravi Aru bridge in the Mannar District and raising of Unnichchai tank in Batticaloa District. The project offices and other facilities had to be located in areas where the temperature reached above 35o C during day time. When designing the temporary facilities, we made a conscious decision to make it as eco-friendly as possible. The natural vegetation of the area was preserved as much as possible by designing the buildings around the existing trees. Many recycled material and waste material were used for the construction. We used natural lighting and ventilation wherever we could to minimize energy usage. Not a single air-conditioner was used in the facilities and even fans were used sparingly. With these actions, were we able to minimize the ecological impact we would have had if we followed conventional methods of building temporary facilities for construction projects.
Most traditional foolproof material used in the construction is concrete. However concrete is not regarded as a sustainable material due to its high energy consumption, polluting byproducts, etc. Realizing this fact and the comparatively high sustainability of steel over concrete due to its low energy consumption, low harmful by products and 100 percent re-usability, we have taken steps to promote steel construction in the country. As a part of this sustainable initiative we, in partnership with Mabey Bridge UK, pioneered in bringing prefabricated steel flyovers in to the country. These flyovers were constructed in record time in areas with high density of traffic with minimum disturbance to the movement of daily traffic. Examples are Kelaniya Flyover, Dehiwala Flyover and Nugegoda Flyover. Also, extending the same technology further we recently completed the construction of Sangupiddy bridge as a prefabricated steel bridge. As most of the bridge/ flyover components were fabricated outside of the country there was minimum impact to our environment.
Felling of trees is invariably associated with construction activities, especially road widening projects. When undertaking such projects, we exercised our environmental responsibility to negotiate with the client and engineer to workout design changes to preserve trees. In the project for widening and improvements to Padeniya-Anuradhapura road, there were over 200 instances where some huge trees were saved with design changes such as shifting of the center line and diverting the drains. The trees which had to be felled were compensated by planting new trees along the roadside.
The tree planting programme continued during the last year as well with 530 trees including mango, kumbuk, mahogany, naa, teak and halmilla trees being planted at various locations which brings the total to over 6,000 trees. This year tree plantations were carried out at Rattanapitiya Maha Vidyalaya, Ratmalana Technical College, Pannipitiya Doowa Temple, Bokundara Dhamma Samadhi Temple, Attidiya Police Academy and Modara-Mattakuliya Road.
The Head Office had used 2.4 metric tons of paper in 2009 and this prompted us to take some initiative to minimize the environmental damage we are causing by the use of such huge amount of paper. We initiated two actions in this regard, one was to install a computer software to monitor the number of copies and printouts and the other was to have two copier/printers using exclusively used paper. By re-using paper for copying and printing, we have been able to save 472 kg of new paper.