As a statement of a possible greener future for Saudi Arabia, it doesn’t get much better than the Red Sea Project, the world’s most ambitious regenerative tourism project.
At 50 hotels (offering up to 8,000 hotel rooms) and around 1,300 residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites, the west coast resort is an impressive development on any scale.
The fact that all those structures have to adhere to the strictest environmental standards make it an even greater undertaking. Late last year, developer TRSDC (The Red Sea Development Company) announced that it was creating the world’s largest battery storage facility to enable the entire site to be powered by renewable energy 24 hours a day, including the island sites. It was an initiative among other sustainability and environmental regeneration schemes in and around the flagship project that led it to be named The Developer of The Year by T&FME’s sister publication Big Project Middle East.
“We are happy to see a greater focus being placed on rewarding sustainable and responsible development, which is a growing trend around the world, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC. “We firmly believe that development does not need to be at the expense of nature and the natural habitat.”
As with any development of this scale, TRSDC has been in overdrive to recruit the very best in construction consultants and contractors to help fulfil its ambitions but it also wants to reach out to the fleet and true industry too. Mott MacDonald is providing consultancy services to help build a world-class vehicle fleet of e-bikes, golf buggies, cars, vans, trucks, buses, seaplanes, helicopters, VTOL, passenger ferries, boats, maintenance vehicles, airside vehicles and even off-road leisure pursuit vehicles.
The global engineering firm has also been tasked with delivering a comprehensive and robust analysis of the total land, sea and air transport needs for the development and operation of the 28,000km² site, from its opening in 2022 to its completion in 2030. Central to this task, will be a proposal of the best fleet propulsion systems from a range of available sustainable options. Given the Red Sea Project’s profile, it could set the tone for green transport investment in Saudi for a generation.
At the Big Projects Awards, TRSDC was also awarded the Excellence in Health and Employee Safety award for their Covid-19 Health and Safety Plan. This year it is taking its safety programme even further with the recruitment of IoT specialist MachinesTalk which will deploy its ‘Workforce and Vehicles’ Smart Locator technology on 3,000 trucks.
Smart Locator badges designed by the Saudi tech firm will eventually be worn by up to 36,000 construction workers, and more than 3,000 vehicles will be tagged “to ensure safety and security”.
The smart badges and tags will aid help identify workers and vehicles within the mega-development while securing the construction area against unauthorised individual and vehicle access.
Individual access rights will be granted based on “role, responsibility, category and group of workers. In addition, the possibility of identifying vehicles remotely, geo-fencing perimeters and setting up alerts based on worker and vehicle access breaches will further enhance security.”
Workers in distress will also be able to use a panic button to send an SOS signal back to TRSDC’s security and emergency response centre. Once implemented, it will be one of the largest smart wearable technology and wireless tagging programmes in the region.
CEO John Pagano said delivering a project of this scale against an ambitious timeline while aiming to meet and exceed the highest international standards for health, safety and sustainability, required “innovative solutions.”
He added: “Our partnership with MachinesTalk will play an important role in ensuring the welfare of our workers, given their proven track record providing smart construction technology and alignment with our business goals.”
Nawaaf Alshalani, CEO of MachinesTalk said he believes the tagging shows “real forward thinking” and care for employees, “when a company wants to implement these solutions at such scale. Using IoT technologies will keep the workforce safer and support secure and more efficient operations.”
The new technology aims to address four key considerations for TRSDC’s core construction site area of 3,500km2: site security, worker safety, access control, and process efficiency.
Ian Williamson, TRSDC’s chief projects delivery officer, further explained: “We asked ourselves how we could enhance security on our site and enable an efficient construction process at the same time, while considering upwards of 36,000 workers across 3,500 km2.How could we ensure worker safety in case of health emergencies or prevent workers getting lost in remote locations in the desert or on islands? How could we control access and track the 3,000 vehicles of multiple contractors across the construction site, delivering materials, tools and transporting employees?”
The challenge for a project with green ambitions like this is also how to deal with the waste it generates. Last month, TRSDC opened an integrated waste management facility that was developed, and will be managed, by waste and recycling specialist Averda. The facility is designed to tackle all forms of waste generated during the construction of Phase One of the giga-project and will enable the TRSDC to meet its goal of zero waste to landfill.
Tonnes of rubble, rock and concrete generated by the construction of the foundations, buildings and infrastructure are sorted and treated by special machinery which converts them into smaller particles. These are then reused for other purposes, such as aggregate for building roads. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony Malek Sukkar, CEO of Averda explained: “We talk of waste management but here nothing is being wasted.”
The workforce employed to construct the first phase of the project make up the population of a small town and create all the same varieties of household waste. Dedicated recycling bins segregate waste, with recyclable glass, plastics, cans, paper and card being collected separately. These materials are then checked again before being baled and transferred to Saudi recyclers to be made into new products. Food and organic waste will be turned into compost, providing nutrient-rich material for the dedicated million-square meter landscape nursery built for the project, completed last year. The facility will eventually provide over 15 million plants required to landscape the destination.
Only a tiny proportion of non-recyclable, non-compostable materials remain after these processes. To avoid landfill, this residual waste is incinerated in special, environmentally-sensitive facilities, and the particles and carbon generated is captured. The resulting ash is used for the manufacture of bricks.
Ian Williamson explained that the facility allows TRSDC to facilitate waste segregation at every one of the construction sites across the development, followed by the collection and then repurposing and recycling of the waste by Averda’s team: “This waste management asset creates a new benchmark for large-scale development projects in the Gulf region and globally.”