NCC Environmental Services has long been involved in the execution of linear projects from pipelines to power lines. Our main role on the project is to advise on project compliance and monitor said compliance in line with the project documentation and legislation.
Our client's need
I, along with many of my colleagues, have been involved with these projects and we have been honing our skills over the years. Many of us work using a systems-based approach driven by the guiding principles laid out in the ISO 14001 group of standards. The standard is based on the methodology known as plan-do-check-act, the driving principle of which is continual improvement.
Designing a customized solution
It’s a great sense of achievement completing a project within the parameters set in the EA and EMP, but, in terms of continual improvement, is that enough? It is important to learn from past challenges and implement those learnings in future projects. How can we save money in a tight economy by stepping in for the planning phases of a project? How can we, as employees at NCC, take our strategic philosophy of ensuring “real growth for people, planet and business” to the next level?
I’ve been operating as an advisor for some time in a corporate environment, and have developed a mantra: “If you want to get your message across in the multifaceted world in which we ‘greenies’ operate you have to start speaking the language of the individuals you wish to influence”.
To achieve this, one has to be a team player and preempt project risks by drawing on past experiences and lessons learnt from colleagues and other environmental professionals. If environmental professionals are included at a planning stage, the entire project will benefit, the environment will benefit and therefore business will benefit too.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in the design and planning of a new power line in the Free State region. It must be said that I was not the only Green orientated individual involved in this walk down, as we were accompanied by an Ecologist, Avifaunal specialist, Wetland specialist, Heritage specialist and an Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP), as well as my counterpart in Project Development. There was a lot of interaction between the Environmental Specialists and the Engineers. Initially I wondered what possible contribution I add to this discussion but I soon realized that, as is generally the case, that I was the only member of the Environmental Professionals who had been involved in construction.
A unique aspect of NCC is that all of our team members working in environmental management have experienced construction on a site level. We know the challenges, we know the risks and we know the solutions to most of the environmental aspects encountered on any construction project. Taking this experience and inserting it into the project development team leads to the preemptive management and overall mitigation of various risks associated with a linear project. This experience and holistic approach aids in effectively managing a project’s impacts and benefitting the triple bottom line.
It is important to note that we can’t always avoid the risk, however, adequate planning allows us to manage the risk before it becomes an impact. Calling on various expertise and experience, either in the board room or in the field, can positively benefit a project.
Achieving Real Growth
As members of a multifaceted team and approach, NCC can influence real growth for people, planet and business in the principles of sustainable development, and together we can create ‘Greener’ linear projects. Although these types of projects are not always exclusively beneficial to the environment, with responsible and effective management on- and off-site, they can seek to find an acceptable level of sustainability in line with the constitution of our beautiful country.