Green Remediation in Environmental Cleanup Projects
Green remediation has been a growing topic in environmental remediation planning for over a decade. EPA guidelines recommend that superfund and other environmental cleanup projects incorporate elements that reduce waste, energy and water use. An additional goal and clear benefit of green remediation practices is that these actions, with advance planning and responsible application, can also reduce operating costs and increase profits for operators.
Goals of Green Remediation
The EPA’s goals for green remediation are useful guidelines for responsible cleanup of environmental damage to restore contaminated land and waterways to safe public and other uses. Operators focus on reducing the environmental footprint of the remediation project, including reducing potential damage from the following impacts that may happen during remediation project operations:
- Air pollution from toxic or other particulate matter, such as lead, for example through dust control.
- Water use and water cycle disruption of cleanup operations.
- Soil erosion and nutrient depletion.
- Greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4).
- Ecological diversity impacts on plants, animals and insect populations.
Limiting the impact of an environmental remediation project leads to better outcomes for all parties, including lower operating costs to benefit the operator and more value delivered at the finished site, where the land and environment have higher reuse value to developers or local communities. When well-executed, previously contaminated and unusable land can support naturally balanced systems such as healthy water cycles and ecological diversity, and be fully prepared to be developed for long-term, sustainable use.
Planning and Budgeting for Green Remediation
Environmental remediation projects cover a wide range of situations, such as urban industrial sites, dry cleaners and gas stations, as well as depleted mining sites and Department of Defense or Department of Energy facilities. There are seven identified types of environmental remediation projects:
- Superfund sites or top priority sites that are listed on the National Priorities List or that represent immediate hazard.
- RCRA sites encompass waste treatment, storage and disposal sites that need cleanup due to degradation, damage and leakage.
- Underground storage tank releases of hazardous products include thousands of new reported cases annually from both private and public sources.
- Department of Defense sites at both active and inactive defense department locations.
- Department of Energy sites including sites that require groundwater decontamination and long-term monitoring.
- Other Federal Agency sites requiring hazardous waste cleanup.
- Brownfield, state or private sites including urban site reclamation, metals-contaminated mining sites and hazardous waste remediation on tribal lands.
There are thousands of cleanup sites around the country involving toxic chemical spills of varying types, sizes and challenges. Each project needs a unique approach that includes careful planning and budgeting. Green remediation project planning should consider the goals involved in minimizing the project footprint and examine the tools and methods that will best achieve those goals.
Invest in Energy Efficient Technologies and Equipment
Entities that invest in energy efficient equipment and systems will be best suited for successful green remediation projects. State of the art technologies for equipment and vehicles are improving productivity and reducing energy use, both of which, along with environmental benefits, result in lower costs and higher profitability. Maintaining equipment in peak condition can further improve performance. Investment in solar, wind or other renewable energy generation systems at the project site can replace or supplement traditional sources of energy.
Plan to Minimize Water Use and Conserve Hydrologic Systems
Careful planning for water use, such as using reclaimed water and preventing runoff into nearby freshwater systems, can reduce water consumption during the project phase and leave a healthier water cycle for the long-term.
Reduce Use of Materials
Conservation of materials used at the site provides another opportunity for environmentally sustainable and cost saving operations. Careful analysis will help identify materials that may be reused or recycled. Avoiding unnecessary natural resource extraction at the site and minimizing waste generation can also reduce the cost of transport, disposal and remediation of materials used in the project.
Minimizing demolition and earthmoving activities and re-using existing site structures provide further reductions in materials and energy use and decrease the impact on soil, plants and other natural systems.
Lower Project Impact on Land and Nearby Communities
The use of minimally invasive technologies reduces the project footprint and the cost of site rehabilitation. Reducing the production of noise, excess light, dust and airborne contaminants at the site helps make the project better received by and less hazardous to nearby communities.
An established solution to reduce the direct impact of a cleanup operation is to use an enclosed fabric building that provides ample workspace while closing off the site, safely reducing the amount of airborne hazardous contaminant, dust and other effects that otherwise would impact the nearby environment. Tension fabric buildings provide a cost-effective and environmentally sound solution to the need for remediation site enclosures.
Benefits of Tension Fabric Green Remediation Site Structures
Allsite tension fabric structures (TFS) are widely used as temporary building enclosures for environmental remediation at a variety of Superfund, mining and other environmental remediation project sites. These clear span structures, supported by a high-strength, corrosion-free engineered aluminum frame and reinforced with a heavy PVC fabric skin, are highly stable and durable. The column-free interior features high eave and peak height to maximize space for operating heavy equipment. The structure can be configured in sizes that range from 48’ to 156’ in width and in unlimited lengths to easily accommodate site size limitations or provide expansive enclosure for very large project fields. Using horizontal tension to stabilize the structure, these rigid enclosures contain the worksite and protect the internal environment from extreme weather conditions while shielding the site from having certain undesirable impacts on the external environment.
Control Environmental Issues with a Tension Fabric Remediation Site Structure
Whether containment is required by the project use permit or as part of a green remediation project plan, tension fabric structures are ideal for containing dust, noise, odors and light at the project work site. They reduce the amount of contamination around the site that may occur during the use of unenclosed heavy equipment, or due to wind or rain over the work area. These self-contained structures shield the “eyesore” open work pit, waste and equipment from public view, with the added benefit of restraining odors and other airborne particles from reaching passersby or nearby communities.
Other benefits of the TFS for green remediation site use include:
- No foundation required, minimizing materials, environmental footprint and cost.
- Meets local and international engineering building codes, including high wind resistance in case of extreme weather.
- Negative air pressure capability to reduce airborne contaminants inside the structure.
- Accessory options such as air filtration, ventilation, freight and personnel doors, lighting and truss system.
- A variety of anchoring options and crane lift package for easy installation and quick relocation wherever the structure is needed.
- The structure is modular, can be installed quickly and is portable so that it can be relocated and reconfigured as needed.
The Allsite tension fabric structure helps achieve the materials and energy use reduction goals of green remediation operators. The aluminum frame has an unlimited life and is fully recyclable, making it an excellent choice to help meet sustainability goals. The lightweight aluminum frame has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel. The high grade fabric withstands UV radiation and meets NFPA code for flame resistance. The white fabric reflects heat away from the TFS, reducing energy use inside the structure. The same white fabric ceiling and walls inside the structure mean that less artificial lighting is needed, further reducing energy costs.
The TFS can be affordably leased for the project duration, eliminating the need for a capital equipment expenditure and providing for the structure to be returned and fully re-utilized in a sustainable fashion. The fabric enclosure is lightweight and leaves no permanent impact on the land, reducing the costs of restoring the site to a natural or reusable state.
For more information on a tension fabric structure for environmental remediation projects, contact Allsite today.