With reference to California high-speed-rail- versus typical road-work, there really is no comparison. The difference, to put it succinctly, is like night and day.
So, what makes the former so different?
What makes California-high-speed-rail-construction stand alone is the cleanliness or should I say “air-friendliness” of related operations.
Equipment adhering to and meeting the most stringent of air-quality standards for its type, the Tier 4 emissions standards, compared to typical construction fleet equipment, from “Exhibit 3.6: 2016 Fleet Criteria Pollutant Emissions” table on page 20 of the 2017 California High-Speed Rail Sustainability Report, here are the numbers for Construction Package One (CP 1), the Madera-Fresno construction section (measured in pounds):
- Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) CP 1 fleet – 23,024; typical fleet – 46,548; % diff. = -51
- Reactive Organic Gas (ROG) CP 1 fleet – 1,715; typical fleet – 4,085; % diff. = -58
- Particulate Matter (PM) CP 1 fleet – 1,082; typical fleet – 2,689; % diff. = -60
- Black Carbon (BC) CP 1 fleet – 833; typical fleet – 2,071; % diff. = -60
Something else you might not think of: the area of waste.
In 2016, more than 99 percent of all waste from construction-related activities was recycled, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) in this year’s California High-Speed Rail Sustainability Report, including concrete, steel, asphalt and wood waste. As a matter of fact, 100 percent of all concrete and steel waste was recycled. Meanwhile, 98 percent of debris from demolition was likewise recycled in 2016. That’s practically zero waste from construction and demolition activities.
Furthermore, in the December 19, 2017 news release: “California High-Speed Rail Continues Leading American Infrastructure with Green Construction and Clean Energy Operations,” what was noted was that, through these efforts, 13,251 metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions were avoided and 87,100 tons of waste did not end up in landfills. Where else do you find this kind of concern for the environment as part of infrastructure-related building?!
And, add to this, during demolition work, structures being razed are sprayed with water to keep the levels of dust created, low.
“High-speed rail’s commitment to sustainability influences a variety of activities, from procurement to system design and operations,” the Authority in the release stressed. “The system will rely on 100 percent renewable energy to run its trains and facilities. The Authority has established station performance requirements to achieve net-zero energy, meaning that each year stations will produce as much energy on-site as they consume. Additionally, every year, on average, greenhouse gas emissions avoided by riders on the system running from San Francisco through the Central Valley and to Los Angeles/Anaheim is projected to be equivalent to removing 285,000 passenger vehicles off the roadways.”
Besides the recycling-related savings, from the release, here are some other highlights:
- “Continued safe and clean construction practices resulting in no work-related fatalities and air quality on site that was 50 to 60 percent cleaner than an average California construction site.
- “Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the California Energy Commission to explore the latest in green technology and renewable energy, which will help inform the operations and maintenance of the high-speed rail system.
- “Preserved more than 2,000 acres of natural habitat.”
Here is what the Authority had to say about the report.
“Today, the California High-Speed Rail Authority … issued its annual Sustainability Report which updates the progress made in 2016 on the innovative approach it is taking to the design, construction and operation of California’s high-speed rail system. The report highlights a range of topics including energy, natural resources, infrastructure, station communities, and business & management.”
Why, you ask, does any or all of this matter?
Imagine if every other site followed suit.
Need I say more?
Images: California High-Speed Rail Authority (middle); Russell Lee (lower)
– Alan Kandel