Environmental Impact Assessment in Construction

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The building materials that we use in the construction projects to the Technology and the construction sites all contribute to Global warming. So it is very important to identify, evaluate and monitor the impacts of the construction activities on the environment and rectify them as soon as possible.

According to ‘A. B. Dutta & I. Sengupta’[397] (Authors of Article – Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Construction, which has published in International Research Journal of Environment Sciences), the Construction Industry is one of the largest industries globally, responsible for 23% of the air pollution, 40% of water pollution, and 50% of landfill waste pollution. Therefore, every single activity that is associated with construction has some impact on the environment.

Before starting the construction of any development project or housing project, it is essential to evaluate that project’s environmental impacts on the surrounding environment. These impacts may be beneficial or detrimental.

After the amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) 2006 in India, the EIA is also needed for the Real Estate Sector.

The ultimate goal of the EIA for various construction and housing projects is to ensure the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources, including human health aspects, against uncontrolled development.

The EIA for the proposed construction project is normally carried out in conjunction with all the technical advisers, assessors, and representatives of all the stakeholders in an appropriate problem-solving process.

There are various alternatives for reducing the caution footprint of construction and development projects, such as changing the location of the construction project, alteration in the designs and planning of the project, or changing the size of the project.

In this article, you will know all about the Environmental Impact Assessment in construction, such as ‘What Is Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)?’ And why it is necessary for housing projects and the step-by-step process of EIA.

Environmental Impact Assessment in Construction: What? Why? When?

01. What Is Environmental Impact Assessment?

02. Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

03. Why Is EIA Necessary?

04. Advantages of Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) of Housing Projects

05. What Assessments Are Related to EIA

  1. Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA)
  2. Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA)

06. What Types of Environmental Impacts Are Analyzed?

  1. Quality of Air
  2. Noise Level
  3. Water Quality As Well As Quantity
  4. Land Environment

07. Process of Environmental Impact Assessment for Housing Projects

  1. Screening
  2. Scoping
  3. Baseline Environmental Status
  4. Impact Assessment and Mitigation Measures
  5. Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment Reports
  6. Review and Licensing

08. Limitations of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

09. Environmental Clearance for Housing/ Civil Engineering Projects

10. Conclusion

So let’s see what exactly EIA in construction means 

What is Environmental Impact Assessment?

Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental Impact Assessment

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is defined as the systematic process widely used to evaluate the impact of any project or construction work on the environment.

“The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)” defines the environmental impact assessment (EIA) as a tool to identify a construction project’s environmental, social, and economic impacts during its decision-making and before statutory approval.

The environmental impact assessment is a powerful tool for achieving sustainable development. The EIA is more than a technical report, which ensures the protection and improvement of the environmental quality of life.

Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment
Objectives of Environmental Impact Assessment

There are various objectives of environmental impact assessment which are as follows

  • To identify the construction project’s probable impact on the environment and the surrounding area.
  • To determine the environmental compatibility of any housing or building project.
  • To evaluate and select the best alternatives of technology, materials, etc., that create less impact on the environment.
  • To study the existing bio-geo physical and socio-economic conditions of the area where the project will be executed and its impact on them.
  • To assess and weigh the environmental costs and the benefits of the development project to the community.
  • The EIA will help incorporate the various environmental management plans and monitor multiple mechanisms to minimize the short-term and long-term impacts.

Why Is EIA Necessary?

Necessity of EIA
Necessity of EIA

Whenever we construct any structure or development project, it has both positive and negative impacts on the environment. The large-scale housing projects may adversely affect the environment and the natural resources present nearby the project.

It is essential to evaluate and determine the impact of the proposed project on the environment so that the required measures can be taken and the changes can be done in the project to ensure that it will not badly affect the environment.

The construction projects should create a proper balance in the environment and be sustainable.

Following are the Necessities for an EIA of Construction and Development Projects –

  • To provide detailed information for the perfect decision-making on the environmental consequences of the proposed action to mitigate the adverse impact.
  • To improve the environmental design of the construction project so that it will not affect the surrounding environmental conditions.
  • To ensure that all the resources are used appropriately and efficiently.
  • To ensure good human health and safety because of the project’s adverse effects.
  • To safeguard the valued resources, including natural resources and the various ecosystem components.

Advantages of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Housing Projects

Advantages of EIA of Housing Projects
Advantages of EIA of Housing Projects

There are various advantages of environmental impact assessment of the housing projects that are as follows

  • The EIA will help reduce the extra burden due to the environmental impacts on nature.
  • EIA is done to prevent or minimize the adverse effects of large-scale housing projects and other construction projects such as power stations, dams, reservoirs, Industrial projects, etc.
  • The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is also used as a planning tool to promote sustainable development by integrating the various environmental considerations into a wide range of proposed actions.
  • Help with the cost savings and the modifications in the project’s design.
  • The EIA will help you to identify the primary and the secondary consequences.

Beyond EIA, other types of environmental assessments are implemented to identify and eliminate the adverse effects of construction projects.

01. Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA)

Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) is a systematic process that includes a decision-making process to analyze the environmental as well as health effects of a proposed construction project.

This process is always conducted before the environmental impact assessment (EIA), and it helps to determine the scope of the EIA, the depth analysis, and the public participation.

02. Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA)

The Integrated Environmental Assessment (IEA) is a process that includes producing and communicating future-oriented information and data on key interactions between the natural environment and human activities.

What Types Of Environmental Impacts Are Analyzed?

Environmental Impacts
Environmental Impacts

The process carried out in the EIA or an environmental impact assessment example will usually classify impacts as:

  1. Quality of Air
  2. Noise Level
  3. Water Quality As Well As Quantity
  4. Land Environment

Let’s have a detailed look at the environmental impact assessment examples –

01. Quality of Air

  • The air quality present in the environment is predicted and evaluated.
  • Quantity of emission of harmful gases from the construction project.
  • Impact of the emissions on the nearby area
  • Meteorological data such as wind speed, the direction of the wind, and the humidity.
  • Standards of the air quality

When it comes to air quality, I guess you must go through the below blog to know about the feasible option for air pollution control.

02. Noise Level

  • The levels of noise in the surroundings due to the project are predicted.
  • Different strategies can be implemented for the reduction of noise pollution.

03. Water Quality As Well As Quantity

  • Different groundwater resources and surface water resources in the vicinity.
  • Quality and the quantity of water present.
  • Impact of the proposed project on the quality and the quantity of the water.
  • Waste water and its treatment and use for other purposes.
  • Rain-water harvesting
  • Disposal of storm water

04. Land Environment

  • Study of the soil characteristics,
  • Uses of the land, drainage patterns, and the impact of the project.
  • Study of land erosion, land degradation etc.
  • Impact on flora, fauna, wildlife etc.

Process of Environmental Impact Assessment for Housing Projects

Process of EIA for Housing Projects
Process of EIA for Housing Projects

The step-by-step process of environmental impact assessment for housing projects is as follows

Preparation of Project Brief and Submission of Drawings

The housing projects are mainly categorized into three types based on the size of the project

  1. Large-cost residential housing projects
  2. Low-cost residential housing projects
  3. Small-scale mixed residential and commercial projects

The environmental impact assessment of the proposed building project should ensure that all the environmental parameters and their consequences are considered in the project’s design.

01. Screening

The screening is the initial stage for the environmental impact assessment in construction. In the screening process, decide whether the housing project requires an environmental impact assessment or not.

The screening process is done for the proposed development project, and it may have four outcomes:

  1. No further EIA is required for the proposed project.
  2. A fall and comprehensive EIA is necessary for the proposed project.
  3. A more limited EIA is required for the proposed project.
  4. A further and detailed study is necessary to decide the level of the EIA needed for the proposed project.

02. Scoping

It is important to determine the scope of the EIA for the particular project. Scoping is defined as the early coordination with the interested and the affected agencies, and the public.

The scoping process will help to determine the important issues and concerns, areas of concern for the particular project, and the other regulatory requirements.

The main aim of the scoping process is to identify the various issues and the impacts likely to be important in construction projects.

03. Baseline Environmental Status

After establishing the project’s scope, the next stage is to establish the baseline environment of the area and understand the existing conditions of the proposed site.

04. Impact Assessment and Mitigation Measures

After establishing the baseline, the next stage is to put all the reports together and assess the impacts on the BES parameters due to the project’s implementation.

The project is sub-categorized into two phases: the construction phase and the operational phase.

a. Construction Phase

The various impacts of the project predicted during the construction phase are as follows

  1. Impact on the use of the land
  2. Impact on the geology, topography including natural resources
  3. Air quality
  4. Impact on water due to construction
  5. Increase in the noise level due to construction activities and types of equipment.
  6. Green initiations to mitigate the impact

b. Operational Phase

The various impacts during the operational phase are as follows

  • Commercialization of area
  • Traffic congestion issues
  • Look at the area
  • Employment opportunities due to project

05. Preparation of Environmental Impact Assessment Reports

The final stage of the EIA is report preparation. The purpose of preparing the environmental impact assessment reports is to provide a solid statement of the potential impacts of a proposal and the required measures to be taken to reduce and remedy them.

The EIA report should meet the following objectives –

Actionable: The environmental impact assessment reports are a document that the proponent can apply to achieve environmentally sound planning and design.

Decision Relevant: The document should organize and present all the complex information required for the project authorization.

User-Friendly: The EIA report should have a systematic presentation of all the data and all the technical issues as well as the solutions so that they can be easily understood and implemented.

06. Review and Licensing

The review and the licensing are the final checks on the quality of the EIA report, which is submitted in order to license a project. After the successful submission of the EIA Report, the authority will go through the details of the report and come to an appropriate conclusion.

Limitations of Environmental Impact Assessment in Construction

Limitations of EIA
Limitations of EIA

There are also some limitations and challenges that EIA faces in the implementation.  They are as follows

  • The poor availability and the reliability of the Data. So, need more research and improvements to tackle the challenges due to the uncertainty in the data.
  • The complete process of EIA should be taken at the project level, but it is undertaken at the planning and the policy level, which is one of the limitations of EIA.
  • The availability of the different range of project alternatives in the project environmental impact assessment is small.
  • Practically on the field, the EIA will end just after the approval of the project clearance, and there will be no further follow-up.
  • The environmental impact assessment reports are very complex, academic, bureaucratic, and lengthy without proper data analysis and interpretation, making them very difficult to work with these reports.

Environmental Clearance for Housing/ Civil Engineering Projects

Environmental clearance is a crucial part of the construction projects and the area development projects under the new ‘EIA notification released in 2006’ by ‘Ministry Of Environment And Forests’ as amended from time to time as per the schedule given below.

Environmental Clearance for Housing Projects
Environmental Clearance for Housing Projects

However, different state governments have different practices and should be studied in detail before moving finally.

Conclusion

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a key factor that contributes to sustainable development. The world is slowly recognizing the importance of the adverse effects on the environment due to various human activities.

So, it is very essential for large-scale construction and development projects to go through the Environmental Impact assessment so that the probable adverse effects on the environment can be evaluated and minimized.

Hence, the Environmental Impact Assessment in construction is very important for the safe environment, sound, and sustainable development in the country. With this knowledge, read the below blogs to know more about protecting the environment with construction.

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Author Bio

Aditya Bhople – Aditya Bhople is a Technical Content writer and has done his Diploma in civil engineering and currently pursuing B.tech in Civil Engineering from Vishwakarma Institute of Information technology, Pune. He has 3 years of experience in Content development especially in the construction niche and works as a content writer with various websites and companies. He is passionate about research in Innovative Topics in civil engineering. You can reach him on Linkedin and Instagram.

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