Much of the work undertaken by Energy Assets Utilities (EAU) requires disturbing existing structures such as carriageways and footways, and grass verges. However, as a business, we always aim to go above and beyond to make sure that we not only reinstate any affected areas, we also ensure we dispose of any debris and waste in as environmentally friendly way as possible.
As one of Britain’s most agile and innovative utility network construction businesses, we see it as our responsibility to do what is both morally and ethically right for our customers, employees…and the planet. We also hope to lead by example, especially when it comes to our efforts to reduce any negative environmental impacts and promote more environmentally friendly processes and procedures.
Gavin Allan, Environmental and Sustainability Co-ordinator at Energy Assets, says: “As an energy business, we want to be an exemplar company when it comes to sustainable working practices.”
Energy Assets Group already has a robust waste-to-energy sustainability programme in place for our offices, stores and site operational activities.
Where excavation is required in the highway, any disruption needs to be reinstated with suitable materials, and stabilisation materials to as-dug materials for backfill purposes can also be introduced. The bituminous material needs replacing and sub-ground rigidity needs to be confirmed as matching the existing conditions. This traditional ‘open cut’ method is not the most environmentally minded approach, therefore, where possible EAU utilises a different excavation technique: directional drilling.
Directional drilling allows for around a 90% reduction in trenching. For example, instead of having a 100m open trench, directional drilling could allow for trenches with small dimensions of 6m at both ends (launch and receiving) with a couple of 2m trenches along the route. Effectively this would result in a 10m trench for every rolling 100m.
Due to factors out of our control, such as existing ground conditions and the number of utilities in close proximity to each other, directional drilling is not always possible and we must ‘open cut’. But we always aim to use directional drilling whenever possible as it has a much lower environmental impact than the ‘open cut’ method.
When excavation is required in a grass verge, our operatives ensure that all of the organic materials are put back. Grass is carefully removed and replaced in sections, with the team skimming a 50mm top layer to replace upon works completion. Failing this, the area will be raked level and re-seeded. The only exception to replacing all original organic material is when we need to fine fill sand around utility apparatus. If backfilling a grass verge within a meter of a carriageway Type 1 backfill material will be imported.
Unfortunately, we do sometimes create waste. However, when this happens, we make sure that we do this in the most environmentally friendly way too. We work with a third-party company who have partnerships with quarry and aggregate companies across the country. All our removed waste is taken to an outlet that is local to the works being undertaken to reduce travel and mitigate our carbon footprint. From there, all of the materials are recycled and can be re-used in future road construction.
On top of this we also have extensive recycling options at our Birstall location. We are also proud to say that all EAG offices and stores produce 0% waste-to-landfill.
With further regards to our environmental impact, we are now looking to go beyond our ISO 14001 Environmental Management accreditation and hope to achieve ISO 50001 - Energy Management, which will help our organisation cut carbon and save money. This endeavour will be a marathon, not a sprint, but these accreditations are the stepping stones on the road to becoming a Net Zero organisation.