Infrastructure projects are now based on improving environmental sustainability and developing solutions to optimise energy usage, use renewable energy sources, water management and waste management.
The COVID-19 emergency halted many projects, significantly
affecting infrastructure projects as market uncertainties stopped
investors, although there was a more positive outlook towards the end
of the year.
Our Real Estate business, on the other hand, had a good year, exceeding targets by around 20%. Providing engineering and evaluation services for all kinds of buildings with dedicated technical and financial competencies, was helped by a new Italian regulation offering financial benefits for energy and seismic efficient renovations.
Building a sustainable environment
Across all parts of our business there is a focus on providing services to enhance sustainability. Infrastructure projects, such as a new cruise terminal in the port of Ravenna, Italy, are based on improving environmental sustainability and developing solutions to optimise energy usage, use renewable energy sources, water management and waste management. In 2020, we completed the design of a nearly zero emission sustainable building in the University of Djibouti, on the east coast of Africa. This building will be a showcase
for sustainable and energy efficient infrastructure for
the rest of the country.
ESG is also an increasingly important consideration for real estate. In 2020, we released new services to support SGR, asset management companies and funds for ESG compliance, ESG due diligence and Global ESG Benchmark for Real Assets (GRESB) rating. We issued a new tool to measure the ESG rating of a building, covering evaluation of energy, carbon, water, mobility, wellbeing, biodiversity, waste and governance.
A modern approach
The path towards digitalization is a core strategy for the real estate and infrastructure business.
In RE some of the challenges of 2020 were met using our remote survey capability, enabled through the Kiber smart helmet. This technology, which has been utilised widely across the RINA business, enables our experts to be on site in a ‘virtual’ way in real time.
Other digital innovations include our work on the structural health monitoring system (SHMS) and corrosion monitoring system (CMS) for
the Storstrøm Bridge, Denmark. Using the latest
fibre optic sensors to monitor parameters such as
strain and temperature, the systems will provide
comprehensive information about structure integrity along with analysis of bridge parameters and environmental conditions.
Even in projects where we are applying more ‘traditional’ services, digital elements are increasingly common. The landmark project for the demolition and
reconstruction of the Polcevera bridge in Genoa, which was concluded in 2020,
for example, used drone and image modelling technology to assist with monitoring, inspection and verification and the Kiber helmet for remote inspection during construction of the bridge’s piles.
Alongside the use of remote inspection services and work on the tool to evaluate building ESG, in real estate we released our Auction Real Estate System (ARES 2.0). This is a unique auction management system that allows clients to access all available information about the credit portfolio they intend to leverage and be scouted.
Highlights of 2020
With the conclusion of the construction phase of the San Giorgio bridge and our involvement with the Storstrøm bridge, bridges represented some of the key infrastructure highlights of the year. Although 2020 was a difficult year, there were many public tenders for inspection activities which are now showing some positive results.
2020 also saw the release of our new Innovative Asset Integrity Management service, which provides an end-to-end approach for clients to give a holistic approach to integrity monitoring. With a service that ranges from infrastructure status inspection to intervention execution, clients will benefit from working with a single entity that is responsible for all activities with a solution that is scalable across multiple assets and geographies.
In real estate, our resounding success in supporting organisations in accessing bonus funds for sustainable renovations (mainly concerning energy efficiency upgrades for buildings, seismic risk mitigation measures) in Italy is one of the year’s highlights. RINA has been supporting all industry operators who enter to the 110% value chain “Superbonus”, through all process stages, offering a range of technical services to target-clients (e.g., Condominiums, Credit Institutions, Multiutility providers, Accounting & Tax Advisory firms), in all Italy,
supervising: Feasibility, Project, Construction,
test, Certification and submission to the ENEA.
We also created new market share by investing in and supporting SGR, Asset management company and Funds to be ESG compliance to the European regulation for sustainable financial disclosure, which came into force in March 2021.
2021 and beyond
We start 2021 with our newly formed Real Estate and Infrastructure Business Unit and with great enthusiasm. Although uncertainty remains as we continue the battle against COVID-19, we expect infrastructure markets to be buoyant. We will continue to build on our successes in project management consultancy services for major infrastructure projects and push our Innovative Asset Integrity Management solution. We will further look to expand our markets into areas such as healthcare and aviation and push for growth in Africa.
The tax benefits for renovations in Italy lasts for two years, so we will consolidate our position in this market along with our standing in real estate evaluation and sustainable and environmental services. We will also look to invest in an IT prop tech company to move our digital capabilities forward.
The construction of the Storstrøm Bridge is being carried out by SBJV, an Italian joint venture lead by Itinera SpA. The 3.84 km structure will become the third largest bridge in Denmark, connecting Zealand and the island Falster via Masnedø. The bridge is in a particularly challenging location, which is prone to high winds and harsh weather conditions.
RINA is providing a structural health monitoring system (SHMS) and corrosion monitoring system (CMS) that will give comprehensive information about structure integrity along with analysis of bridge parameters and environmental conditions.
The SHMS will use the latest fibre optic sensors to monitor parameters such as strain and temperature. The SHMS / CMS will correlate measured levels of corrosion with other parameters, such as temperature. Structural information will also be correlated with environmental conditions, such as wind speed. Comparing against a baseline and using fatigue analysis algorithms, the system will estimate the residual life of the bridge structures.
RINA was awarded a contract for Project Management Consultancy services for project design and construction management, health and safety management and quality assurance services for this prestigious project, which was completed in 2020. A landmark project for RINA to show its capability in large contract PMC, an 80-strong multidisciplinary RINA team overcame the challenges faced by extreme weather and a global pandemic during the works. The challenging site, close to other buildings in Genoa, required careful demolition with close monitoring of the environment. RINA made use of digital tools such as drones and image modelling technology to assist with monitoring, inspection and verification and its smart Kiber helmet for remote inspection during construction of the bridge’s piles.
Within the framework of the design activities to support Royal Caribbean for the concession of the public service for the construction of a new cruise terminal in the Port of Ravenna, RINA provided the definition and development of solutions aimed at improving environmental sustainability and classifying the building according environmental and sustainability certification protocol (e.g. LEED, BREEAM) in line with Royal Caribbean requirements.
Solutions to improve environmental performance included:
In 2020, RINA completed the design of a near-zero emission sustainable building in the University of Djibouti. The activity was part of the cooperation for climate change vulnerability, risk assessment, adaptation and mitigation between the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of the Republic of Italy, and the Ministry of Habitat, Planning and Environment of the Republic of Djibouti.
The building will be in the new University of Djibouti and will act as a demonstrative of innovation for the upcoming construction of the Pepiniere (Incubator Hall). The greening of the Pepiniere will be a visible and important symbolic “case study” for the sustainability and energy efficiency in the built environment for the rest of the country. The project has the aim of inspiring legislative measures to support and promote sustainable energy efficiency and renewable sources, opening the potential of the sustainable building materials and photovoltaic market in the country.
Starting in 2019 and finishing in 2020, this huge project will enhance agriculture in northern Cameroon by providing irrigation based on a better use of rainwater. RINA was contracted to provide preliminary technical studies for up to 15 sites, feasibility studies of hill reservoirs on up to 10 sites, and detailed studies of up to five hill reservoirs with irrigated parameters, which will help ensure rainwater is mobilized and utilised to meet the different water needs of the population in the region and help combat the issues of climate change. RINA was further contracted to prepare tender documents and to propose alternative options for development of sites not selected within the project.
In 2020, RINA provided project management and construction works supervision to support the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources Development in the implementation phase of the Danzy PV plant. The plant will include battery storage and provide 25MW of renewable local power in the Central African Republic (CAR). The RINA team comprised solar PV and storage, electrical systems and engineering, environmental, procurement and civil engineering specialists. The project will have an important positive impact on the development of PV projects in Africa. Phase 2 of the project is currently under negotiation.
Starting in 2020, this project is the elaboration of a Geographic Information System (GIS) system for the biggest municipality in Tunisia. RINA is providing services including identification and geolocation of all roads, sidewalks, stormwater drainage, traffic infrastructure, major buildings, public lighting, waste collection points and green spaces. This geographic information will be established on a GIS platform and RINA will support the municipality in strengthening its technical capabilities to operate the system autonomously. The tool will support the municipality’s management mechanisms to improve its capacity to establish a system that is subject to the requirements of good governance.
In 2020, RINA carried out a feasibility study and provided the definition of the design criteria for a railway track related to the extension of the current Genoa metro network for a new route between the existing station “Dinegro” and a future station, “Fiumara”, with intermediate stops of "Via Dino Col", "Villa Scassi" and "Piazza Montano". The route is a double track, less than 3 km long. The Metro extension will help limit traffic congestion in the western part of the town.
Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) intends to develop the port infrastructure in Lake Victoria to unlock and integrate the lake regions in Tanzania with the national and international economy. Starting in March 2020, RINA is supporting TPA in studies and recommendations of current and estimated growth requirements, and economic, legal, social and environmental viability. Upon approval of a viable development option, RINA will undertake the detailed design and prepare user requirements and tender documents required for the procurement process of the development.
Leading a multicultural team, RINA is ideally suited to support TPA through its multidisciplinary capability and 360° knowledge of port business and port engineering. Environmental and sustainability studies for port expansion are part of the scope, which were carried out by one of the local partners and coordinated by RINA. Estimated project completion is August 2021.
Starting in 2018 and still ongoing, RINA is contracted by IHI – Astaldi JV to design and supply a distributed network of hybrid sensors on the Brailia suspended bridge across the Danube, to provide real-time, permanent monitoring of the structural condition of the bridge throughout its operational life. The suspended bridge is strategically important and will be the highest over the Danube in Romania, connecting the Dobrogea region to the rest of the country. It will have a length of 1,900 m plus two side openings to the shores of Brailia and Tulcea. The client will benefit from RINA’s experience in smart solutions and latest technology for health monitoring of large infrastructures.
Using new software and hardware technology, this project sees the development of an asset management methodology that could be applied by Public Administration to improve implementation of extraordinary road maintenance. The multidisciplinary study involves technical and economic aspects which will allow the client, state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), to perform the census and assessment of risks for the Italian road network and prioritisation of maintenance interventions.
In 2020, RINA was awarded a contract for the feasibility study, final and detailed design for the conversion of a historic former aeronautical warehouse, in Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy. The project will preserve buildings of proven historical value with structural and functional adaptations. Other buildings without historical or functional importance for the design will be demolished. The design includes the construction of a multi-level car park and a new building to form a structural ‘link’ between existing buildings.
The project was developed using Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology and methodology and is aimed at creating a high efficiency new built area, requiring almost zero energy. This was achieved using hydronic heat-based and solar thermal systems along with a dedicated photovoltaic system for the car park.
Starting in 2018 and still ongoing, RINA is contracted for the design of the redevelopment of the former Caserma Boscariello in Naples. The project will create a coordinated system of buildings to host offices, accommodation, social areas, a shooting range, garages, gymnasium, guard corps and surveillance and management services. The new Cittadella will be an efficient, functional and flexible area, characterized as a high-security environment.
The design has been developed using Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology and is aimed at ensuring almost zero energy construction of the complex array of buildings. It includes two photovoltaic fields on the roofs of the garages and a meteoric water collection network for re-use and irrigation. Rina was able to ensure timely and efficient coordination between all stakeholders involved in the project.
Starting in 2018 and completed in 2020, La Spezia Cruise Terminal project obtained concession for the construction and operation of the cruise terminal under a public-private-partnership (PPP) scheme. Contracted by a JV composed by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Costa Crociere and MSC Cruises, RINA acted as the main consultant, developing the market, finance, engineering and environmental studies. This was the first PPP port project in Italy to secure state concession, which will last for 36 years.
Close to the world-renowned Cinque Terre, the port’s terminal building was developed to achieve high levels of sustainability to meet BREEAAM certification and a multidisciplinary RINA team, including engineers and project managers along with environmental, administrative, market and finance experts, worked closely with the JV from initial concept to signing of the concessions. RINA will continue supporting the JV with project management for the construction, the final and detailed design, and supervision of construction works.
In this ongoing project, which started in 2019, RINA is responsible for the execution of the seismic vulnerability and adaptation of state-owned public buildings. A high number of buildings located in a high seismic area adds to the complexity of the project. RINA services include technical supervision, preparation of investigative plan for laboratory tests, definition of the properties of materials, supervision of geotechnical investigations, assessment of seismic vulnerability using Building Information Monitoring (BIM) technology, and analysis of design options for seismic improvements, including cost-benefit analysis.
The Mantova Hub project (2016-2020) provided strategic urban and socio-economic redevelopment of a disused 90,000 m2 area of the city of Mantua. A complex group of buildings intended for public access; the project included a seismic adaptation strategy to ensure a capacity resistant to earthquake inertial actions equal to those prescribed by the standard for new buildings. Including ex-military complexes and industrial architecture, the disused buildings were declared of cultural interest.
RINA employed Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology to ensure maximum compatibility between architectural and technical / plant solutions, aimed at ensuring maximum savings, energy efficiency and minimal impact on the environment. The Mantova project was the first to be developed under the Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri framework for the urban regeneration and the security of the suburbs of the metropolitan cities.
In response to the COVID-19 emergency, RINA coordinated a JV of highly qualified healthcare companies for the preparation and extension of intensive and semi-intensive care units for hospitals in the areas of Cuneo, Bari and Cosenza. The design followed the most recent environment regulations, CAM principles, and Best Techniques for sustainability of construction. The new and renewed Intensive care units will be updated to the latest technologies and deliver added resilience for the Italian Health Care system to deal with emergencies such as pandemics.
Running from June 2020 to May 2022, this project assesses and monitors Outsourcers’ performance throughout Italy, covering more than 40 Funds and 300 buildings. It is based on existing and new SLAs and KPIs for critical functions of an SGR according to EU bank law, including SGR administration, fund administration, property management and project management. The RINA team includes corporate-tax-legal and technical experts and presents a unique opportunity to introduce an ESG approach to outsourced services.
Running from February 2019 to February 2023 (estimated), this project concerns appraisal and due diligence activities for divesting part of the CSI’s real estate assets. The project includes 32 buildings (15,700 m2), 234 buildable areas (1,337,280 m2) and 1,881 agricultural land and buildings (21,998,793 m2). The assets are scattered across provinces in Lombardy, Italy, except for one in Liguria. To handle the large number of buildings and locations, RINA is using its network of technicians in northern Italy and specialists in the sale of agricultural and building land for the divestment phase.
The project shows RINA’s capability in managing a large portfolio of assets and expertise in divestment. Project timescales were maintained, despite the COVID-19 emergency. CSI benefit from a clearer picture and understanding of the properties they own, overall value, critical points and obstructive factors about each asset, and market values for each plot of land.
Starting in 2017, this three-year project will certify the market value of FIP real estate portfolio, comprising 213 assets and using six appraisal reports in accordance with Italian law. FIP was the first investment fund promoted by the Italian Republic (Ministry of Economy and Finance), with a target to develop public assets through its transfer into real estate investment fund. The assets are in main Italian cities with a total market value of over €2 billion. The RINA team, comprising real estate, financial modelling, legal, statistics and urban planning experts, is providing independent certification of market value.
Within the area of Real Estate and Infrastructure, RINA certification activities included various projects, in particular a framework agreement with Padua University (Italy), for the verification of the university’s building, a contract from the Municipality of Florence for the verification of tramway lines and application of ESG principles for ‘green mobility’, and a contract for project verification of the new Cortina cableway, launched for the World Ski Championship in 2021 and designed to be used during the Winter Olympic Games Milano – Cortina, to be held in 2026.