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Summer smarts: tackling seasonal environmental challenges in construction

As the summer months approach, environmental challenges on construction sites can become more pronounced, presenting significant hurdles for professionals dedicated to sustainable development. More than mere compliance measures, effective management of these challenges is critical to maintaining project integrity and safeguarding the natural environment.

CEMPs: tackling seasonal environmental challenges in construction

The Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP)

As we’ve previously discussed in detail, a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) is essentially your guidebook for managing a project's environmental obligations during construction, and the complexity of your CEMP should match the scale of your work.

From controlling dust and managing soil erosion to ensuring efficient water use and protecting biodiversity, each aspect of your CEMP demands careful consideration and strategic action.

What a good CEMP looks like.

What should be covered by your CEMP

Assuming your project has a CEMP, then the measures we’ve outlined below should be covered... but that’s not a guarantee. If yours doesn’t, or you don’t have a CEMP, please reach out – we can help.

Dust control

During the warm to hot summer months, construction sites are particularly prone to generating dust due to dry conditions and increased site activity. Dust can pose significant health risks to workers and nearby residents by affecting air quality and exacerbating respiratory conditions. Additionally, dust can settle on nearby vegetation and water bodies, causing environmental harm.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Water spraying: Regularly spray water on dusty surfaces to keep dust levels down.

  • Vegetative cover: Maintain vegetation on site where possible, as it can help trap dust particles.

  • Wind barriers: Erect barriers or wind fences around the site to reduce wind speed and limit dust dispersion.

  • Monitoring: Implement air quality monitoring systems to track dust levels and ensure they remain within safe limits.


Soil erosion and sediment control

Soil erosion can be exacerbated during summer storms, leading to the displacement of soil from construction sites into nearby water bodies, which can result in sedimentation, water pollution, and habitat disruption.


Mitigation strategies:

  • Erosion control matting: Use erosion control matting or geotextiles to stabilise exposed soil.

  • Silt fences and treatment systems: Install silt fences and treatment systems to capture sediment and prevent it from leaving the site.

  • Vegetative buffers: Maintain or establish vegetative buffers around the site to intercept and stabilise soil.

  • Proper grading: Design and implement proper site grading to reduce runoff velocity and soil displacement.

  • Stormwater management: Implement comprehensive stormwater management practices to control runoff and minimise erosion.


Water management

Effective water management is critical during summer months, especially with the risk of drought conditions. Construction activities require a reliable water supply, and managing stormwater runoff is essential to prevent site flooding and environmental contamination.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Water conservation: Implement water-saving measures such as recycling water on site and using water-efficient equipment.

  • Rainwater harvesting: Collect and store rainwater for use in dust suppression and other non-potable applications.

  • Stormwater management systems: Design and install systems like retention ponds, swales, and infiltration basins to manage runoff and reduce the risk of flooding.

  • Regular maintenance: Ensure that all water management systems are regularly maintained and functioning properly to handle sudden storms.


Biodiversity impact

Construction activities during the summer can coincide with critical periods for local wildlife and plant species. Disruption to these species can have long-term ecological impacts, including habitat destruction and population declines.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Environmental assessments: Conduct thorough environmental assessments to identify and protect sensitive habitats and species.

  • Timing of activities: Schedule construction activities to avoid critical periods such as breeding seasons for local wildlife.

  •   Habitat restoration: Implement habitat restoration measures, such as replanting native vegetation, to mitigate any ecological damage caused by construction.


Regulatory compliance

Maintaining compliance with environmental regulations can be more challenging during extreme weather conditions. Ensuring that all activities adhere to legal standards requires diligent monitoring and adaptive management strategies.

Mitigation strategies:

  • Regular audits: Conduct regular environmental audits to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.

  • Training: Provide ongoing training for site staff on regulatory requirements and best practices for environmental management.

  • Adaptive management: Implement adaptive management strategies that allow for quick responses to changing conditions and regulatory updates.

  • Documentation: Maintain thorough documentation of all environmental management activities and compliance efforts to demonstrate adherence to regulations.


By proactively tackling these summer-specific environmental concerns, you can ensure that your projects not only meet but exceed expectations, paving the way for a greener future.

If your CEMP doesn’t adequately cover the above, get in touch to see how we can help.


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