California High Speed Rail targets supplier management to deliver low carbon solutions

The $ 64 billion infrastructure project in California to build a 520 mile high-speed rail linking San Francisco and Los Angelos looks to radically change transportation habits and “shrink the state”. At the same time it is looking to maximize sustainability and minimize carbon use.

Speaking at the CCC Seminar at Conexpo, Las Vegas, Sustainability Manager Margaret Cederoth of the California High Speed Rail Authority explained how project is looking to minimize green house gas production in both the construction and operation of the new rail network and will be driven by 100% renewable energy.

The high speed rail network will get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under 3 hours at speeds up to 22O mph. This will be make it fully competitive with air travel and automotive travel will be relegated to the realm of the dinosaur, Margaret Cederoth explained.


The High Speed Rail Network will be the background of electrified transportation in California and will be “transformative” for the State. One key objective of the 15 year project is to transform how Californians move around the state, in particular moving people out of cars and airplanes and reducing vehicle miles travelled.


Sustainable construction and operation

Margaret Cederoth as Sustainability Manager overseeing the process of ensuring sustainable infrastructure, implementing best business management practices and ensuring respect for natural world.

The Authority focuses on greenhouse gas emissions forecasting, and monitoring inventory throughout the life of the programme to see where is efforts should be best focused.

520 miles of track and stations means a lot of construction and the goal is for construction of the rail network to be carbon neutral .


Supplier management

To deliver the sustainability standards of the $64 billion project the Authority is tightly focused on the relationship with contractors and the appropriate procurement contracts.

“This is where we will need to make a key difference,” Margaret Cederoth explains. “We are requiring contractors to recycle all concrete and steel from both demolition and construction. Thy must recycle of at least 75% of everything else.”

“In terms of the construction equipment they use, they have to bring to the site the cleanest equipment available.”

Suppliers are obliged to provide Environmental Product Declarations showing third party verifications. This has been a requirement from the outset for concrete and steel products. As the project develops, EPDs will be essential for other procurements such as rolling stock communications and systems.

“If you require it, as part of the contract, that is the key mechanism for making something happen on the construction site,” Cederoth says.

“While California has a lot of regulations and legislation with targets and objectives in this area, the real the implementation mechanism is the contract with the supplier.”

Understanding the supply chain

The High Speed Rail Authority is intent on working as closely as possible with the supply chain to deliver optimum sustainability.

“We think it is important to understand the whole life impact of products going into the system so we can understand our supply chain better. We can then start motivating better behavior in our supply chain.”

Fulfillment of targets

30% of construction contracts are being allocated to small businesses. In this way the project will be an engine for jobs growth in California.

“We are doing a lot of workshops and engagements with small businesses ss well as onsite training. The aim is to help the small businesses to be certified in California.

To able to succeed with such a project it is necessary to have a good grounding in carbon emissions, in sustainability as a concept, in supply chain and in the economics of how we obtain our materials and how we use them. It is also important to understand how suppliers think, and what is happening in that realm.With a 15 year construction cycle it is important to know where they are moving.”

“But the key thing is the contract.”

See interview with Margaret Cederoth:

See presentation by Margaret Cederoth at the CCC Seminar at Conexpo:

May 12, 2017
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