1. Ghella’s headquarters

    Our Rome headquarters is a constantly improving Eco Office: it generates 25% of its energy needs thanks to renewable sources such as solar and photovoltaic panels. Seasonal plantings and a green roof which thermally insulates the conference room are an integral part of this project. 

    The building has undergone redevelopment works, including the addition of the new conference room. The new volume, built mainly using local materials sourced within 125 km from the construction site, was the first building in Italy to have obtained the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum v4 certification: the highest level in the certification system for environmental sustainability of the Green Building Council. The new architecture makes use of advanced radiation and ventilation control systems to ensure internal comfort. The glass façade integrates a system of mobile curtains to regulate the level of lighting and air circulation, while the collection and reuse of rainwater optimizes the use of natural resources. The lighting system uses LED lights with motion detectors. Since 2017, our car fleet has been converted into hybrid cars and electric vehicles. Thanks to this choice, we have so far saved around 119 tons of CO2eq. We encourage soft mobility when commuting to work: the garage is equipped with bicycles racks and charging stations for cars and electric bicycles. In 2019, we eliminated all plastic bottles by installing taps for water microfiltration. An annual saving of about 14,400 bottles is estimated. The dishes in the canteen area are compostable, reducing the use of disposable plastic. The office is equipped with a semi-automatic defibrillator: the device is registered on the website and on the app “TRENTA ORE PER L A VITA” (thirty hours for life), so that anyone in the proximity of the building who may need it can access it with the support of our trained staff.

  2. TBM Names

    TBM names Tunnel Boring Machines traditionally have female names. A practice that comes from afar and that over the years has taken on new connotations of great social significance.

    In Australia, at the Sydney Metro City & Southwest worksite, it was decided to dedicate the five TBMs to women who are important to the Australian community: Nancy, in honour of Nancy Bird-Walton OBE, the youngest aviator to be licensed for commercial flights in the Commonwealth and founder of the Australian Women Pilots' Association; Mum Shirl, Aboriginal activist, who devoted her entire life to defending the rights of Aboriginal Australians; Wendy, in honour of Wendy Schreiber, a volunteer at the one and only home for children with disabilities in New South Wales; Mabel, in honour of Mabel Newill, head nurse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney; Kathleen, as Kathleen Butler, the sole technical consultant to John Bradfield, the engineer who designed the bridge crossing Sydney Harbour.

  3. Innovation for safety: concrete traffic shield

    The in-situ enlargement of existing tunnels is a practice that allows to avoid deviations or interruptions of traffic by using a specific excavation method. This significantly reduces the inconvenience for users and the costs and time for carrying out the works, however at the same time it presents the need to manage a series of risks, both for workers and motorists.

    In 2014, during the upgrading works on the A14 motorway between Ancona North and Ancona South, in Italy, Ghella modified and redesigned the protection system for in-situ enlargement designed by the client. This involved the construction of a steel shield about 20 m long, suitable for segregating just the work area near the excavation face from car traffic. The rest of the tunnel was separated using new jersey barriers with a net fitted above: a system not suitable to reduce the risks involved. For this reason, a concrete lining shield was designed, running for the entire length of the tunnel, having a box-like shape. This substantial innovation in geometric shape, length and material made it possible to completely segregate the work areas from car traffic, hence eliminating or minimizing the risks associated with the original system, especially in terms of safety management, and creating at the same time a third work front in the upper part of the shield. The benefits of this innovation extend beyond our construction sites, where the idea was developed and implemented. To date, the concrete shield finds application in other projects where it is necessary to keep the motorway in operation with minimum disruption, such as the restoration of deteriorated tunnels. The system guarantees high levels of safety to workers and users during the entire duration of the works.

  4. Psychological wellbeing in New Zealand

    A study carried out in 2018 by BRANZ, an independent research institute, found that the construction sector is by far the one with the highest suicide rate in New Zealand.

    To fully protect the workers of the Central Interceptor site, our Joint Venture Ghella Abergeldie contributed to the foundation of “MATES in Construction NZ”, a suicide-prevention organization specifically aimed at construction workers. The organisation, already present in other countries, has developed specific support programs: at the Central Interceptor construction site, it provides all workers with a period of training and on the job support to help anyone who may need it.

  5. Local communities engagement in Buenos Aires

    The resident population around the work areas of the Matanza Riachuelo project exceeds 400,000 people. The land involved in construction site activities is mostly made up of residential areas with extremely diverse sociodemographic characteristics and includes also industries, warehouses and commercial areas. For this reason, the management of the expectations and needs of local communities has been structured in a Social Management Plan, aimed at identifying and adopting targeted strategies for all types of stakeholders involved and focused on three main objectives:

    • Plan construction site activities, considering the need to minimize social impacts.

    • Provide information on construction site-activities and coordinate communication exchange with all stakeholders.

    • Manage social conflicts (if any), including elements of compensation to the local community, where appropriate. The project included elements of internal training at all levels and sharing with subcontractors of the main procedures on Social Management.

    Between 2017 and 2019 complaints received decreased by 75%.

  6. Integration into Māori culture

    In our Central Interceptor construction site, which started during 2019, we have carried out a series of initiatives focused on integrating construction site personnel into the Māori culture: interactive language sessions aimed at promoting the use of Māori expressions in everyday communication and activities such as participation in the Māngere Mountain Challenge, a cultural initiative organized ever y year by our client Watercare where the participants in the competition can communicate exclusively in the “te reo Māori” (Māori language).


  7. Bringing beauty to the areas where we operate

    Given the large-scale construction activities associated to the excavations for the metro in Sydney’s city centre, together with our partners John Holland and CPB Contractors we transformed the Marrickville construction-site into a gigantic mural, 125-meter long and 3-meter high. A heterogeneous group of street artists led by artist Tim Phibs was selected to create the work. The mural represents, using effective symbolism, various elements including identity, native Australians, local flora and fauna and the culture of street art. The Marrickville mural has thus transformed the area into an open-air work of art, serving as an element of urban regeneration benefiting the whole community.

  8. The automatic rib: innovation for on site safety

    In 2014, during the upgrading works of the A14 motorway between Ancona North and Ancona South, in Italy, Ghella tested, built and patented the so-called Automatic Rib, designed by Francesco Palchetti.

    The Automatic Rib has the potential to significantly reduce the risk factors related to the presence of workers on the excavation face during the rib positioning phase in the excavation of traditional tunnels. This is because an operation typically conducted by 4-5 workers, close to the excavation face, with an automatic rib can be conducted by a single operator who maneuvers a specially designed lift from inside a cabin. The rib is made in such a way as to avoid the laying of the chains, the laying of the electro-welded mesh and the tightening of the bolts. Operations at the excavation face are reduced to just fixing the rib on the appropriate hooking supports. A camera assists the operator who, from inside the cabin, can make corrections and improve the accuracy of the installation. In addition to the potential positive implications on safety, the introduction of the Automatic Rib has reduced the laying operating times from about 60 to 15 minutes, thus also improving excavation productivity. The Automatic Rib was presented at various events to promote the knowledge of its potential and its adoption among design teams and contracting authorities. In 2019 it was presented to the NZTA - New Zealand Tunnel Association - to raise awareness among local companies about the advantages of this innovative system. It was also the subject of a publication presented during the World Tunnel Congress 2019. 

  9. IT tools & knowledge sharing

    Over the years we have equipped ourselves with a series of tools aimed at making production control more precise and improving the flow of information between the headquarters and construction sites around the world.

    We have developed a monitoring system, called Production, supporting two sectors that are strategic for us: Excavations and Renewables. The system allows site engineers to have all the information on the excavation face in a smartphone, updated in real time. This tool has made it possible to limit the use of large email attachments that reported only partial information, offering instead a platform where the information is univocal and personalized.

    Production news is also spread through the Ghella app, designed to simplify data searches and reduce the use of information emails. The app allows reserved and profiled access to news from the world, production data, tender information and all the various other systems used within our Group.

  10. Art in Ghella

    We have invested in art projects that have generated new perspectives and have allowed us to express our passion for beauty and quality.

    Street-artist Lucamaleonte created a work in the internal courtyard of our headquarters, giving new life to a concrete wall, that was transformed into a pictorial garden on which various species of animals stand out: each animal ideally represents a country where we operate. The result is a new feeling of harmony, which transformed a common space into a place of well-being and beauty, bringing all Ghella sites back to a single imaginary place. We have commissioned the artist and engineer Lorenzo Mariotti 27 works depicting the fleet of TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines) that have excavated or are still excavating in our work sites around the world. Each work depicts a machine using a meticulous hyper-realistic technique that confuses the viewer by making him believe he is in front of a photograph.

  11. Sustainability rating at the project level: IS

    Our strategic choices have led us to work in countries where sustainability is a consolidated cornerstone of national culture such as Norway, Australia or New Zealand. This approach is also reflected in the infrastructure sector, where challenging objectives and targets throughout the life cycle of the works are applied by clients.

    A tangible example of this can be found in the use of the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating system in our projects Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Cross River Rail, in Australia, and Central Interceptor in New Zealand. The IS rating system was developed by ISCA (Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia), a nonprofit organisation focused on sustainability in the infrastructure field. IS is the only comprehensive rating system in Australia and New Zealand assessing the sustainability of infrastructure projects in the planning, design, construction and operational phases of the works. The Central Interceptor project, started in 2019, is accredited to ISCA version 1.2 and has an “AsBuilt” target of "Excellent", to be achieved upon project completion. The rating requires the definition of a Basecase that includes the calculation of the carbon footprint of the project design. This is set as the baseline against which improvements are measured to reach the score requested by the client. The Sydney Metro City and Southwest project is currently our most advanced project in the IS path: in 2019 it obtained a score of 100.05 / 110, the highest ever assigned by the IS rating and which gave the John Holland CPB Ghella (JHCPBG) JV the rating “Leading” for the Design of the TSE (Tunnel and Station Excavation) works.

  12. The Brenner conveyor belt system

    Logistics in a tunneling site is affected by the large quantities of excavated material (spoil). At the Brenner site it was decided to mechanise and automate the transport system of the spoil, in order to reduce external impacts, by avoiding transport by road as much as possible and keeping the transport of waste materials within the site boundaries.

    This was achieved through the installation of a conveyor belts system, over 76 km long and powered by electric engines with a nominal Power of 15 MW, which convey the spoil of all excavation works towards areas dedicated to temporary / permanent storage or areas where the material is reused as secondary raw material. Transporting the spoil by means of an electric belt system, rather than by truck, has made it possible to avoid the production of local atmospheric emissions, to significantly reduce the production of dust and to avoid the impact of site activities on vehicular traffic, thus minimising the impacts on local air quality and limiting disturbance to the local community.

  13. Quantification of the impacts of our materials

    In order to comply with a requirement of Bane NOR, our client for the Follo Line project, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was conducted on two key building materials - ready mix concrete and bi-component mixture - produced directly on site and used by the JV AGJV (Acciona - Ghella).

    The study quantifies the environmental footprint of concrete “from cradle to gate”- i.e. including the extraction and processing of raw materials, transport, on site processing of the material - and the environmental footprint for the bi-component mortar “from cradle to grave” – i.e. including also the construction phase and end-of-life phases. The results relating to each material have been certified and shared externally through an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). This is an "environmental identity card" that informs about the performance of the product in relation to a series of impacts, including the “Contribution to Climate Change”. In particular, the greenhouse gas emissions relating to 1 m3 of concrete are equal to 361.20 kgCO2eq, while those relating to 1 m3 of two-component mortar are equivalent to 75.9 kgCO2eq. The information on the production processes of the two materials, the results on the relative environmental impacts and the methodology applied to obtain them, have been disseminated through a platform for public use (www.environdec.com, the official website of the EPD System International System). In addition to obtaining a better understanding of the environmental performance of the materials used in our project, this study has produced certified emission factors that could potentially be used by anyone, hence contributing to further scientific progress on life-cycle assessment. In addition, some suppliers have produced EPDs following the request of our JV: in this way, we have extended our responsibility beyond the company boundaries, by promoting best practices for the quantification of environmental impacts in our value chain.

  14. Wildlife protection in DEWA

    We conducted a translocation program of the wild species that inhabited the areas designated for the DEWA Phase III PV Solar Power project, in an area of approximately 20 Km2 . The project involved mammals - including Arabian Gazelles, Desert Hares, Cheesman Gerbils - and reptiles - including Egyptian Uromastics, Sand Fish, Agame, Sand Geckos.

    The animals were surveyed, and information were recorded on the species, on their number and the state of their health. The collection and transport were carried out in line with the best practices for each species, without causing stress to the animals and ensuring their safety during the transfer. All the animals were introduced to the nearby Al Marmoum Nature Reserve, the largest unfenced nature reserve in the UAE, rich in native wildlife and known for its admirable sustainability initiatives. The translocated animals therefore live in conditions of freedom and well-being

  15. Protection of biodiversity in Buenos Aires

    The staff of the Matanza Riachuelo construction site, in Buenos Aires, celebrated the 2019 World Environment Day with the cleaning of the Dock Sud beach, in front of the construction site, where the Riachuelo river flows: the industrious team of volunteers removed over 50 m3 of plastic from the beach, restoring environmental decor, to the benefit of local biodiversity.

    The awareness initiative has strengthened cohesion, a sense of belonging and awareness of the importance of teamwork. Also, in the Villa Lugano district of Buenos Aires an important green restoration project, including replanting with native trees, took place in the area of Parco de la Victoria, a site impacted by construction work activities. The initiative saw the participation, among others, of the World Bank, Ghella and AySA .

  16. Spoil management in Sydney Metro City and Southwest

    In our Sydney Metro project, delivered by John Holland CPB Ghella, waste becomes a raw material for other construction sites: 100% of the uncontaminated spoil generated by the tunnel excavation – 2,350,000 m³, equivalent to 752 olympic swimming pools – is reused in over 100 projects in the Sydney area, contributing to the construction of roads, homes and airports.

    In particular, more than 500 thousand tons of sandstone, extracted from the heart of the city, will become part of the airport runway of Sydney Western International Airport, due to open in 2026. The synergy between Sydney Metro and local projects represents a virtuous example of circular economy in the world of construction. Particular attention was also given to the means of transport used for the spoil, which was mainly handled by barges travelling across the bay. Spoil barging has removed trucks from busy CBD streets and quiet residential areas, avoiding about 40,000 truck-and-trailer movements over 26-months. This has social benefits through mitigating impacts on traffic congestion, while benefitting the environment through reduced emissions from increased idling time of trucks in traffic. Barging will save about 1,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. All these challenges were reflected in community and stakeholder concerns expressed during the early project planning phase, with numerous submissions received about truck movements and spoil-reuse opportunities. Sydney metro’s spoil management has been awarded as “Environment and Sustainability Initiative of the Year” at the New Civil Engineer Tunneling Festival 2019.

  17. Separate to recycle: packaging project in DEWA

    The construction phase of the DEWA Phase III PV Solar Power Project, in the United Arab Emirates, involved the purchase of a large number of photovoltaic panels, generally transported by the supplier using multi-material pallets and therefore not directly recyclable.

    In 2019 alone, the “ GRS, ACCIONA , Ghella” JV purchased 968,500 photovoltaic panels whose packaging is the main component of the waste produced by the site. The JV has implemented a process of separating the packaging into its various elements and recycling them at specialized local companies. The process involves about 40 people who work in an area of the site dedicated to the separation activity, allowing the recycling of over 1,000 tons of wood per year.

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