SuRF’s rating tool is set up so road authorities can set targets for relevant credits they wish to apply to specific projects for use by their service providers.
For the first time in South Africa, a rating system is being developed that is dedicated for road projects and which promotes the use of sustainable best-practices in the planning, design and construction of roads.
The Sustainable Roads Forum (SuRF) rating tool allows road authorities to set sustainability intervention targets for their projects, and to start measuring and reporting them in a clear, transparent and aligned manner.
The tool, which is being piloted on the N3 corridor upgrade between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, provides a list of design and construction interventions, guidance for implementation and a unified method of reporting.
It also introduces the concept of a carbon footprint and attempts to start quantifying the reduction in the carbon footprint resulting from the interventions.
Dumisani Nkabinde, Regional Manager – SANRAL Eastern Region, said unlike similar tools in use, which predominantly weigh scores based on the environmental aspect of sustainability, the SuRF rating tool provides a unique focus on the socio-economic impact of road projects in the context of South Africa’s inequality, unemployment challenges, skills development and history of restricted movement.
Nkabinde said: “Several attempts have been made in the past to set up rating systems for the broader infrastructure industry such as roads, dams, buildings, power plants and toll systems but these took a one-size-fits-all approach.
“Thus, the roads industry in South Africa started pursuing a rating system which would be entirely specific to roads.”
Royal HaskoningDHV undertook the earliest stages in developing a new localised rating system with support from SANRAL.
“South Africa is playing catch up as countries such as New Zealand, America and Australia have had a rating system for many years.
“In these countries, sustainability in infrastructure provision is enshrined in law. Their construction and consulting companies use the sustainability rating system as a business strategy and this gives them a competitive advantage over their rivals,” said Nkabinde, adding that South Africa should have adopted a mandatory rating system a long while back.
SuRF’s rating tool is set up so that road authorities can set targets for relevant credits they wish to apply to specific projects for use by their service providers.
These are then used for progress reporting purposes and final scoring on completion of the project phases.
There are currently 10 mandatory intervention levels for “best practices”:
- Relevant environmental, social and heritage resources related permits obtained;
- Compilation of an Environmental Management Plan;
- Proper disposal of hazardous waste;
- Use of energy efficient plant;
- Initial and follow-up pedestrian surveys;
- Noise impact assessment;
- Early community engagement;
- Youth Skills Development (in-service training)
- Percentage of works reserved for labour intensive construction and targeted enterprises;
- As-built data reporting.