05 Jun 2020

World Environment Day - June 5

Companies can't choose anymore, they are already active players in preserving nature and the environment

When someone mentions ecology and engineering, especially in civil engineering, it is somehow hard to connect the two. But, on the eve of Environmental protection day, marked on June 5 this exact paradigm prompted us to investigate this connection.

We talked about this to Ena Bičanić Marković, Head of the Ecology and environmental protection Division in Institut IGH.

Public works, whether we are talking about road construction, or the construction of other buildings in an ecosystem, undoubtedly leave a mark. How do we prevent such interventions from leaving a permanent mark on the environment?

Environmental protection is no longer a choice for companies dealing in civil engineering. Instead, you are an active participant in preserving biodiversity in your area of impact. This requires certain reorganization, introducing new business and organizational models, new materials, and, most importantly, upgrading skills and educating your own employees.

How does Institut IGH handle these issues?

The beginning of „ecology“ in IGH, if we can call it that, dates back to 1999, to the founding of the Environmental engineering department as one of the nine departments of the then Croatian Civil engineering Institute. Ever since it was founded, the Department employees have used their professional and scientific expertise to implement complex interdisciplinary projects and have actively collaborated with other organizational units, including architecture and spatial planning, water engineering, waste management and supervision. In the many years that follows, the structure, organization and number of employees in the Division as well as its scope of service, has changed according to market demands, and has kept up with ever more elaborate procedures required by EU Directives, that is, environmental laws and regulations.

How were these changes implemented?

Well, above all, the Division has undergone intense development in recent years, based on traditional company values - synergy and interdisciplinarity of expert staff. As a result, we employ 11 staff members who connect biology, civil engineering, landscape architecture, agronomy, environmental engineering and spatial planning through intense cooperation and an analytical approach to work. It is part of the Design Department, and as such is an inseparable part of any project from the beginning.

Which areas showcase your work the best?

We monitor all the strategic projects of the Institute dealing in transport infrastructure ( road, railway and maritime), water engineering, energy and waste management. IGH has been authorized by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy to conduct environmental protection work. This means that, through the development of Environmental Impact Studies, and Appropriate Assessments, the Division's employees participate in procedures that are the prerequisite for obtaining location permits as well as in procedures implemented when obtaining building permits.

Thanks to a well-coordinated team, a fact I am very proud of, our employees have recently had the experience of developing study documents for some of the largest infrastructure projects of which the Environmental impact study for the Škrljevo – Rijeka – Jurdani railway line is certainly worth mentioning, road infrastructure projects which include the Nova Gradiška Bypass, maritime structures, including the Pašman nautical port, and water and utility structures in the Križevci agglomeration. Right now, we are developing a study of the Ogulin Bypass, Našice Bypass and many others.

EIS of the South Bypass of Nova Gradiška and Feasibility Study Beli Manastir- Osijek

In addition, through feasibility studies developed in cooperation with colleagues from the Transport planning division we take part in assessing alternative solutions for interventions in transport infrastructure for the purposes of international funding.

When it comes to waste management, other than developing Environmental protection studies and reports and waste management plans, our employees are also experienced in developing project applications, project implementations and development of procurement documents on projects for which funding contracts have been signed. A recent example includes the Development of an extended project application and professional help and developing bidding documents for the project of repairing a closed “Stružice” municipal waste landfill, in the Gundinca municipality.

Current regulations mandate that every intervention into the environment has to include a plan of se called “green areas”?

That’s right, we are also intensively working on developing the area of landscape architecture through collaboration with our architects and road designers. Therefore, our landscape architects have a lot of experience in developing designs for and supervising transport infrastructure projects, complex green areas, parks, children playgrounds, waste landfills, paths and walking lanes. Along with designs their activities also include supervision of landscape projects, and developing study documents, as was mentioned above. An example of these activities is the recently completed detailed and implementation design of Institut Ruđer Bošković’s exterior. I don’t really know how to express the satisfaction I felt when working on this project. Can you imagine developing designs based on drawings developed in detail back in 1954, reconstructing their ideas in that same area. The team of designers and associates on this project, cooperating with the competent authorities, the entire organization and leadership was such that this is truly a project I’m grateful to have had the chance to work on.

The Institut Ruđer Bošković landscaping design was developed based on the original drawings of Zvonimir Kajin, an architect, and date back to 1954/1955
When it comes to parks, we’d like to mention the development of alternative solutions of a park in the southern settlement of Samobor

We participated in every transport and infrastructure project the Institute was involved in, from the A5 Zagreb-Sisak motorway, Beli Manastir-Osijek-Svilaj and Ravča-Ploče sections, to the Remetinec roundabout and other roundabouts currently being constructed, such as the Farkaševac-Bjelovar. This, of course, includes the specialist landscape character assessment studies, which were a great pleasure to take part in, professionally.

Since we live in a fast changing world, continuous education is not only necessary, but, in a way, mandatory?

We believe we have to keep educating ourselves so that we can provide clients with as high a level of expertise as possible, which is no longer just a slogan when it comes to environmental work, but a condition without which the job will simply not get done. Our employees take part in a series of conferences in the area of environmental protection.

In 2019 alone, the Institute took part in the 4th Regional Conference on Environmental Impact Assessment, organized by the Croatian Association of Experts in Nature and Environmental Protection with 6 papers on nature and environmental protection, landscape architecture, spatial planning, all related to design experiences of the employees of the Water Engineering and Transport Design Divisions.