Electrix project manager Finau Fonua is the creator of a new transmission tower soak pit design, one of Electrix’s eight submissions in the inaugural VINCI Environment Awards.

In late 2020, VINCI (Electrix’s parent company) launched the Environment Awards, calling for employees across the world to share initiatives that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, optimise resources and preserve the environment.

Staff from VINCI subsidiaries submitted initiatives to a shared Environment Awards platform where employees voted on their favourite ideas from within their region. Finau’s clever underground soak pit design was one of 57 submissions in the Oceania region (New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia), which together accumulated over 4,000 votes from employees.

The initiative was tailormade for the Environment Awards, as it had the environmental benefits of significantly reducing corrosion and extending the life of tower steel by up to 15 years.

Since its creation, our client Transpower has accepted the innovative design and work methodology, with trial sites already completed.

The idea is focused on preventing rainwater pooling around transmission tower legs and corroding the galvanised steel.

To combat this, tower painting remediation and maintenance is a routine activity in Transpower’s Asset Management programme. Corrosion is conventionally addressed by cleaning areas of rust using a blasting medium and applying layers of zinc primer and paint to the steel, extending the life of the structure.

Finau developed a solution to increase the life of the tower steel and foundation bolts by installing drainage around the legs’ concrete pile caps, leading water to an underground soak pit five to ten metres away from the tower.

It also reduces Transpower’s maintenance requirements, which has the secondary environmental impact of minimising the use of the zinc primer and paint—a chemical which can be hazardous to human and animal health, as well as the environment.

Extending the life of the tower grillage is a prime example of Electrix’s effort to continuously improve and has the potential to contribute positively over time to Transpower’s carbon footprint and reduce the procurement of galvanised steel.