Brownfield Sites: coordinate civil and environmental engineering or pay later

Brownfield sites are environmentally impacted properties which have been okayed for development based on risk assessment rather than strict regulatory compliance. So, if it's cleared, what can go wrong?

Coordination Problem #1: If the cut soil cannot be reused on the site, and it is impacted soil, you still pay an environmental tipping fee at a disposal facility, if they accept the soil.

Civil engineers do not always know where the impacted soils are, or what to do with them. Environmental engineers do not always know where the building excavations are planned, utility trenches or storm water structures go.

A better plan can be devised if both sets of engineers give input.

Efficient utilities with a minimum impact on contaminated soils. One or the other costs money.

Coordination Problem #2: Will laborers be working in contaminated soil? Any confined space or similar conditions may require respirators and protective clothing and gloves.

The civil engineer may not know the sanitary sewer at eight feet below grade will touch impacted soils. When the fumes enter the trench, work must stop. The trench must be ventilated. Special personal protection or specialty crews must be brought in.

Wouldn't you rather know these conditions in advance?

Coordination problem #3: Where can you take the soil?

If the environmental engineer knows what soil is likely to be disturbed, they can sample and test the soil for landfill criteria. This process takes about ten days of laboratory time. Spend the money in advance rather than shutting down the site waiting for manifests to move the soil.

More coordination between civil and environmental engineers is required than is often allowed. Together, they can resolve many costly delay problems in advance.

And, it doesn't hurt to have the structural engineer or architect in these meetings. As they may be unaware of the issues raised by their design, coordination often leads to a better project.


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