The “Pont-Rouge” development is creating a completely new district on a 230-hectare site about two kilometres away from Geneva’s current city centre. “Pont-Rouge” is revitalising the former PAV industrial zone, which covers the neighbourhoods of Praille, Acacias and les Vernets. At the same time, the “Léman Express” and the new CEVA line (Cornavin – Eaux Vives – Annemasse) is improving public transport connections in the region around the Swiss-French border. The hub of the “Pont-Rouge” development is the major construction project commissioned by SBB Immobilien. Consisting of five buildings with rental space for offices, shops and real estate, it dominates the area around the Lancy-Pont-Rouge railway station, which opened in December 2017.
Plot B1, Pont-Rouge
SBB Immobilien AG
Three mixed-use buildings (offices, shops and restaurants)
CHF 250 million
One specific challenge for the project is the requirement to achieve DGNB sustainability certification. Pont-Rouge has been pre-certified in the “Gold” category.
“Pont-Rouge” is the urban centre growing up around a new railway station in the Geneva neighbourhood of Lancy. It is one of the largest construction projects in the region, and in June 2015, following a competitive tender, SBB Immobilien AG commissioned Implenia to build the first stage of the development on Plot B1 as total contractor. Comprehensive infrastructure work began on the site in September 2015. Construction work is due to finish in January 2018.
With “Pont-Rouge” Implenia is demonstrating what sustainable construction sites could look like in the future. Two project managers give us a progress report on a construction site that goes to the heart of the company’s philosophy.
“There’s still much to be done in the construction industry. Our processes are not yet as heavily standardised as in other industries.”
Why is sustainability becoming increasingly important in construction?
Benoît Klein, Sustainability Project Manager: Every company should respect the environment and live up to its social responsibilities, and there are also more laws that have to be taken into account. Meanwhile, customer requirements are increasing in terms of quality and deadlines. We have to navigate our way through all these demands.
Laurent Jarlégant, “Pont-Rouge” Project Manager: Sustainability is becoming a requirement for more and more builders. The fact that “Pont-Rouge” is being built to the strict DGNB standard features prominently in SBB Immobilien’s marketing. It’s an important selling point when seeking to attract international corporations as tenants, for example. Sooner or later, sustainable construction will become the norm.
What makes “Pont-Rouge” such a beacon project?
Benoît Klein: It’s the first project in Western Switzerland to be built according to the sustainability standards set by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). Secondly, Implenia is using a ground-breaking, innovative logistics concept for the construction work on “Pont-Rouge”. And thirdly, we have rigorously applied our new Environmental Concept for Construction Sites on the project.
Benoît Klein (left), Sustainability Project Manager, and Laurent Jarlégant (right), “Pont-Rouge” Project Manager, are proud of the fact that their huge construction site is a beacon for sustainability.
Why the concentration on logistics?
Laurent Jarlégant: Previously, each subcontractor would take delivery of their own building materials when they arrived on site and then transport them across to where they were being used. But this is not efficient and it involves too many empty runs. So we put logistics in the hands of a dedicated team, which uses an online tool to help manage the receipt, checking and onward transportation of materials. This means subcontractors can concentrate entirely on their core tasks.
Benoît Klein: Centralising the logistics like this also meets one of the specific DGNB requirements. The logistics team carefully controls and validates delivered material to ensure, for example, that no solvent-based products enter the site. Waste is also sorted directly on site.
What are the distinguishing characteristics of the new Environmental Concept for Construction Sites?
Benoît Klein: In 2015, we produced terms of reference for waste management, water management, noise emissions and air pollution, and then used this framework to formulate various measures that we are now implementing at the “Pont-Rouge” construction site.
Laurent Jarlégant: In the initial phase of the project, we used the nearby railway to take away about 112,000 tonnes of spoil, thus saving more than 8,600 truck journeys. Up to now, another 2,200 tonnes of waste has been sorted and separated on site; 72 percent of this has been recycled. We’ve learnt a lot during this pilot phase.
What’s next for Implenia and sustainable construction?
Benoît Klein: Implenia has its own competence centre for sustainable construction, which helps us transfer the knowledge we’ve gained to other sites. There’s still lots to do, because our processes are nowhere near as heavily standardised as in other industries. In addition, lean principles are increasingly being used in the construction industry.
Are there specific plans in western Switzerland?
Benoît Klein: We’re currently applying out our comprehensive sustainability concept, which we call “Chantier Marguerite”, at a building project we’re doing for the United Nations in Geneva. As well as meeting strict environmental criteria, this involves a strong commitment to occupational integration. We’re working with international students to record what we learn about sustainable construction, and thus transfer knowledge to developing countries.