Those four circular bridges at Floriade Expo 2022 are wonderful. Can we implement this sustainable Bridge Campus Blueprint across the Netherlands? It is a major challenge with around 85,000 bridges and viaducts qualifying for replacement in the coming decades. At the Connecting Circular Infrastructure event on 4 October 2022, the pillars for the future were laid.
As raw materials become scarcer, it is necessary to find alternative connections. With the Smart Circular Bridge (flax fibre), Second Life Bridge (recycled materials), Bever Bridge and Rondje Weerwater Bridge (both cementless concrete), the Bridge Campus at Floriade Expo 2022 is a good zero measurement. But how do you ensure the right foundations for economies of scale?
To the government: pay up
The thing is, these bridges are still in the pioneering stage. Regulations, liability and uncertainty in cost forecasts means clients (often governments) are reluctant to issue tenders for circular infrastructure projects. According to Floriade’s bridge project manager Tjibbe Winkler, however, the time is just right. After all, the bridges are climate-friendly, and they can certainly be produced at lower costs in the longer term compared to brand-new alternatives. Especially if all social costs are settled, such as CO2 pricing and if the costs/benefits are settled across the entire chain.
To the market: take the lead
That is why the infrastructure sector itself should take the lead in stimulating the upscaling of this circular bridge construction. Preconditions for this are circularity in the tender, better cooperation between market and government and the facilitation of data. According to Wouter Kersten of Platform31, the Bridge Campus pilot is a wonderful start. He gives initiators the necessary tips for scaling up, precisely because bridges are often customised. For example, the starting points, circumstances and implementation of each bridge project are often very different. It is all the more important to involve as many parties as possible in the plans from pilot to scaling up at the earliest possible stage.
Explain – The New Normal
What helps here is the use of clear standards on which clients and contractors can base this circular approach. The New Normal is an elaboration of that and is being developed at a national level; aiming to launch it as a benchmark in 2023. Floriade’s bridges, among others, were brought in to further develop the standard. By studying indicators like origin and future value, toxicity, energy consumption, handling of residual materials and climate adaptation, the system builders want to provide a measuring tool for the (added) value of circular construction. Based on the environmental cost indicator, clients can already make a choice for new bridges. The New Normal Infra refines this method in terms of circular materials. The goal is to evaluate 100 comparable practical projects; new projects are welcome!
Ensure transparency – CDE databases
A database is then essential to properly store all materials and, above all, to find them. The Common Data Environment (CDE), for example, offers clients and contractors complete insight into various infrastructures. The possibilities of entering, combining and dimensionalising construction drawings and models in the CDE offer many advantages. For example, a 3D model can provide insight into the existence of errors in a drawing and thus prevent costs of failure and delays. As a CDE, the Digital Construction Trailer was developed specifically for the Bridges Campus for the four circular bridges. All construction partners shared their models and information, making the construction process transparent and smooth.
To the people: dare to take that step
The technical possibilities to achieve economies of scale are therefore present. The restraining factor often turns out to be people, who rely on regulations, costs or are completely unaware of the possibilities. This therefore requires a more comprehensive approach. The timely involvement of a larger group of stakeholders is key to gain support for innovation or economies of scale. It’s not too late: soon there will still be 84,000 infrastructure projects that can use a ready-made blueprint for scaling up.
- Lucas de Man, day chair
- Wouter Kersten (Platform31) on upscaling
- Rutger Buch (founder of Cirkelstad) on ‘The New Normal’
- Bas Roelofs (Witteveen+Bos) on ‘The New Normal’
- Jan Willem Kattouw (Collaborall) on the Common Data Environment
- Tjibbe Winkler, project manager of Floriade bridges and programme manager of Bridge Campus and programme manager of the Raw Materials Collective Almere, on ‘De Digitale Construction Trailer’ as part of the National Ecosystem
This was the last of three meetings dedicated to circular bridge construction in the Netherlands.
- 09-05-2022 – The Floriade Bridges Talkshow
- 30-05-2022 – Symposium Smart, Old & New materials
- 04-10-2022 – Symposium Connecting Circular Infrastructure