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Last edited 09 Sep 2020
Environmental plan for building design and construction
An environmental plan (or environmental management plan (EMP)) is an essential tool for setting and managing environmental objectives for a project. Generally an environmental plan will be part of an environmental management system (EMS) and will sit within a hierarchical suite of documents:
- Environmental policy
- Environmental plan/environmental management plan (EMP)
- Method statements
- Work instructions
The over-arching environmental policy is a high-level statement of mission and principles in relation to environmental performance. It creates the framework for setting environmental objectives and targets and is often a public document. A project might simply adopt a client’s corporate environmental policy, or a project-specific policy might be prepared.
The environmental plan is the key document in the environmental management system and sets out the detailed, targets, objectives and procedures that will be adopted in order to achieve the goals set out in the environmental policy. On small projects it may form part of the brief, but on larger projects is likely to be a stand-alone document.
The environmental plan should:
- Identify roles and responsibilities
- Set specific, measurable targets.
- Set standards that must be adhered to.
- Identify risks and establish mitigation measures.
- Establish procedures for communication and training.
- Establish procedures for monitoring and reporting.
On large projects, there may be different detailed environmental plans for different aspects of the project or for different stages of work. For example, there is likely to be a specific construction environmental management plan (CEMP).
An environmental risk assessment should be undertaken when developing the environmental plan. This will identify areas of environmental impact and potential risks. Management procedures can then be put in place to eliminate, minimise or mitigate those impacts and risks. This might cover areas, such as:
 Selection of consultants
Procurement route, travel plan, working methods, standards, ecology and landscape, energy use and energy source, flexibility and durability, waste management, water management, material selection and pollution.
Energy use and energy source, embodied energy, use of harmful materials, material sources, ecology and landscape, flexibility and durability, waste management, water management, disposal, travel plan, contamination and pollution and resilience to climate change.
Transport, embodied energy, use of harmful materials, material sources, working methods, site waste management plan, recycling, pollution, wheel washing, dust generation and noise nuisance, protection of ecology, traffic management, archaeology and heritage management, water management and contaminated land management.
It is important that everyone involved in the project is aware of the environmental policy and environmental plan, and that they are bound by their requirements. Appointment documents should make clear the extent and standard of environmental performance and assessment that is required as well as requirements for monitoring and reporting. These requirements need to be cascaded down throughout the entire supply chain.
- A senior client champion should be appointed to take responsibility for environmental matters.
- Client environmental representative to manage environmental matters on a day to day basis. On a large project this can be a full-time job for a specialist.
- Contractor’s environmental manager.
- Contractor’s site environmental representative.
- Contractor’s site foreman.
These individuals need to carry out regular inspections, audits and reporting and must be empowered in order to be effective. It is all too easy to ignore environmental requirements, particularly when there are time or budgetary pressures, or when ‘emergencies’ crop up.
An outline for an environmental plan might include:
- Project description.
- Environmental policy.
- Environmental management system.
- Roles and responsibilities.
- Lines of communication and reporting requirements.
- Complaints, incidents and emergency response procedures.
- Auditing, non-conformance and corrective action.
- Risk assessment.
- Objectives and targets.
- Planning, legislation, regulations and guidelines and permits required.
- Standards to be adopted.
- Method statements.
- Review and revision procedures.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Construction environmental management plan.
- Definition of waste: Code of practice.
- Deleterious materials.
- Ecological impact assessment.
- Eco-Management and Audit Scheme EMAS.
- Embodied energy.
- Engineers and hurricanes.
- Environmental consultant.
- Environmental impact assessment.
- Environmental management procedures manual.
- Environmental management system.
- Environmental policy.
- ISO 14001.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
- Performance gap.
- Protected species.
- Soil survey.
- Strategic ecology framework SEF.
- Sustainability aspirations.
- Sustainable materials.
- Sustainability outcomes.
- Sustainable procurement.
- Wheel washing system.
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