Environmental Impacts of Construction Projects
Often the environment is the invisible victim of a construction project and damage can be hidden, costly and have lasting consequences. We see this, with increasing frequency, now when we are dealing with contaminated land and historical pollution from the post war construction heyday. So, what can we do to prevent this happening now and in the future?
At every stage of a construction project there are effects on the environment which can be measured and when it can be measured we can aim to reduce the effects of our project.
The concept and design stage
Think about how energy is used in our design and the type of energy that will be used, the types of materials – non-renewable and renewable – where the materials come from and the transportation of the materials, waste management and disposal, the ecology and landscape of the project. Is your project resilient, flexible and adaptable to climate change?
Energy use on site, transport of workers and materials, having a waste management plan with clear routes for waste elimination, reduction, reuse and disposal, reducing nuisance dust and noise and protecting water courses and drainage from pollution.
Operations and maintenance stage
Consider how the project will use resources when it is complete and operational – energy management, water management, resources management and waste management. Can it be maintained safely and efficiently?
When considering the end of your project’s useful life, can it be dismantled and demolished in a way that does not damage the environment? Can components be re-used, recycled or re-sold? Can the landscape and ecology be returned to it’s original condition? What hazards will remain and how will they be managed?
Unlike Health and Safety, damage to the environment is not tangible or personal like a cut finger, a fractured leg or damaged equipment. The damage might not seem to affect us personally, but it does affect our legacy, our future and our children’s future.