Smart Project Management tips for a sustainable environment | Vol. 1

Environment is the only thing we all have in common. So, let’s contribute collectively for this noble cause.

There is of course no instant recipe for undoing the harm we have been causing to the environment. However, sincere attempts from professionals like Scientists, Town Planners, Government authorities, Project Management Consultants (PMCs) can help minimise pollution considerably. PMCs can help in conducting due diligence of the site and prepare an Environmental Risk Register to capture foreseen risk, gauge their severity level post analyzing the impact and probability level and subsequently devising mitigation strategy to minimise the harmful impact on the environment. I am happy to throw light on some of the many strongly advocated practices in the construction field from the eyes of a PMC. These tips at a broad level can be a boon to any project if implemented during design and execution at the site.

Landscape Topography

Efficient landscaping is a long term investment with confirmed return in the form of reduced operational cost & aesthetic.

  • Retain existing condition of the soil to the maximum achievable extent and do not disturb the existing vegetation / greenery on the ground. The greenery shields the soil from the impact of erosion and hardens the soil too.
  • Preserve the top 200 mm of soil prior to commencing bulk excavation. That bit of soil is more fertile containing necessary minerals for plant nutrition, improves soil moisture retention and can be used later for landscaping.
  • Go for energy efficient landscape design to reduce heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter by primarily focusing on the key governing elements – Climate, Shading, Windbreaks and Water conservation. Regulating the energy flows from the sun and wind can help us reduce the operational cost as well.

Deciduous trees helps in reducing heat ingress in summer and maximize in winter

Dust and Air Pollution

  • To stop dust and noise spreading, barricade the periphery of the site properly with solid panels / sheet rather than fencing; keep soil in moist condition at all times by spraying water regularly; wheel washing facility to be provided where daily vehicular movement is frequent.
  • Diesel oil used in vehicles at site should have low Sulphur content to reduce hazardous emissions.
  • Provide grating on all traps, drains and Khurraas; cover all manholes and pits and use grease traps.
  • Plan logistics in a manner to manage risk of flooding; establish cut off or intercept drains to redirect storm water to vegetated areas or effective treatment installations, else drain off.
  • Design ventilation to ensure adequate fresh air intake and position such intakes away from contaminant sources like sanitary vents, vehicular parking, cooling towers etc.
  • Provide separate smoking rooms in office, restaurants, pubs and other enclosed public areas.
  • Provide return for air exhaust through ducts in Toilet blocks and Cafeteria else enclosure should terminate at soffit of true ceiling with no opening left above false ceiling.
  • Design for a separate AHU for cafeteria & Chemical rooms and enforce strict policy in office to not eat in work place to minimize Microorganisms growth.

Good Internal Air Quality (IAQ) enhances worker productivity by 5% - 15%*

Noise Pollution

  • Prefer noise emitting machinery with acoustic properties or house them in an acoustic enclosure.
  • Ensure regular maintenance of construction equipment so that extraneous noise from mechanical vibration is kept to a minimum and operate them on low and slow settings.
  • Fit noise reducing devices like silencers and baffles to equipment.
  • Take electricity from mains instead of the DG.
  • Compressors should be fitted with lined and sealed acoustic covers.

Noise exposure above 45, 85 & 120 decibels has a potential to cause unhealthy sleep, hearing loss and ear pain respectively

There are of course many tips. I will be back soon covering how Material Selection, Waste Management and Water Efficiency contribute towards a sustainable environment.

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