Engineering out a problem generally delivers the best environmental outcomes but it can also consume a lot of resources that could be used in other ways to achieve a greater overall environmental benefit.
The mitigation of significant risks and step-wise performance improvement is often reliant on the implementation of capital improvement projects. The progress of these projects must be periodically reviewed to ensure they are progressing satisfactorily and achieving desired outcomes. Careful planning and scheduling is critical to ensure completion on time, on budget and to standard. To do this a project manager needs to be appointed as a primary driver for the project.
The need to invest in capital improvements needs to be very carefully considered never losing sight of the most important question of whether the money could be better spent. A clay bund for example in combination with good procedures may give equivalent protection to a large concrete bund and the money saved used to plant tens of thousands of trees.
It is also worth considering the environmental costs of large capital works:
- What is the embedded energy in the steel and concrete (i.e. Greenhouse gas costs)?
- What is the length of life of this facility?
- What will be required to decommission this facility and rehabilitate the area?
Engineering solutions are often chosen over procedural controls because the work-force is not trusted in either their competence or commitment to prevent environmental harm. A robust management system can, however, deliver excellent operational control from a committed and competent work-force without the need to invest as many resources in capital works.