Integrating sustainability into the planning, design, execution and delivery of remediation projects addresses the three interrelated dimensions of economic growth, social responsibility and environmental stewardship—the triple bottom line.
Sustainable remedial approaches can deliver numerous benefits, including improvements to the local environment, regional economy and surrounding community; increased remediation efficiency, and therefore decreased project costs; use of more innovative technologies; and compliance with sustainability related regulations and guidelines.
Here are six ways to make remediation projects more efficient and sustainable:
Use cutting-edge technologies. The use of innovative tools and technologies, such as data visualisation, 3D modelling and in situ treatment, often generates less waste and reduces overall project implementation costs. Sustainable processes can be selected based on their capacity to reduce chemical use and greenhouse gas emissions; conserve energy, water and other resource consumption; minimise waste and promote contaminant destruction.
Consider multi-faceted solutions. Thorough characterisation and a comprehensive conceptual site model are vital when developing a cost-effective, multi-faceted remedial solution for complex sites. Multi-component remediation strategies often provide the best route to a sustainable solution, and the synergy from integrating treatment technologies—combined remedial approach—can maximise benefits.
Reuse treated media. One aspect of sustainable remediation is identifying and reusing remediated materials or properties. If the treatment is not conducted in situ, stakeholders should consider potential reuse of the treated media. For example, treated groundwater can be reused for irrigation, industrial cooling or drinking water purposes. Excavated soil can be recycled for backfill or placed in a “soil bank” for reuse at nearby construction sites.
Design flexible solutions. Flexible treatment solutions offer efficiency and resiliency during long-term remedial programs by easily adapting to treatment efficiency, unforeseen site conditions and newer technologies. Approaches include integrating multiple technologies (e.g., pump-and-treat phased out by in situ bioremediation) and designing open-ended remediation plans to incorporate newer or more appropriate technologies (e.g., advanced in situ approaches) as cleanup progresses.
Stakeholder and community engagement helps ensure that remedial activities are aligned with project goals.
Better today and tomorrow’s economy. Through land reuse, job creation, soliciting local vendors and minimizing disruption to local businesses, an efficient, effective and low-impact sustainable remediation project can increase property values, boost economic growth, reduce project costs and increase the local tax base. It can also proactively address future concerns—climate change, public and ecological health—by mitigating their negative effects and eliminating future funding requirements.
Be socially sensitive. Stakeholder and community engagement helps ensure that remedial activities are aligned with project goals. Engagement opportunities can also identify local impacts, such as noise and light pollution, congestion, and health and safety concerns, and the means to address them. Projects can provide amenities, like parks or community centers, which improve quality of life.