How to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Excavation

How to reduce the environmental impact of excavation

No matter the type or scale of your excavation project, without adequate preplanning and cautionary measures, it has the potential to negatively impact the environment. Although excavation is a crucial part of many different types of construction projects, it is not typically a very delicate process.

In fact, it is quite the opposite of delicate. The earth on and around the dig site is usually roughed up by dozers. The ground that is dug up and collected is often moved elsewhere as waste.

In addition, excavation waste can have a major impact on the environment, depending on how it is managed. Excavation commonly leads to the creation of pens, runoff and drainage systems, sedimentation structures, holding ponds, and more. Thus, a variety of pollutants, such as dust, particles, and hazardous materials, can contaminate the air, soil, and water.

How to Lessen the Environmental Effects of Excavation

When it comes to most construction projects, it is impossible to avoid excavation work. However, for the sake of our environment, it is necessary to make this common practice more sustainable.

Fortunately, there are alternative approaches to excavation, which are much more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. The following are some of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of excavation:

1. Reuse excavated materials

Before leaving a job site after an excavation project has commenced, it would help to perform a full survey to determine the quality of the excavated materials and whether they can be reused.

While broken rocks and boulders may be harder to reuse, loose soil and sand can be used in other applications. Clay is especially suitable, as it can be turned into a sustainable form of concrete. Sometimes, it may also be possible to reuse the debris from a sizable excavation project for landscaping purposes.

Even if the soil removed during an excavation job is contaminated, it can still be reused. There are special methods to treat it and effectively remove the contaminants so that it can be used again. As a result, the environmental impact can be reduced by reusing excavated materials rather than merely wasting them.

2. Create an erosion and sedimentation control plan

Erosion and sedimentation control should be an essential part of any excavation project. It is necessary to ensure there is adequate drainage so that run-off water does not seep into the surrounding environment and ponds do not form on the site either.

By keeping eroded soil on the dig site, you can prevent it from leaking into nearby rivers and streams. Such leakage can create water pollution, damage wildlife, lead to flooding, and generate stream channel damage. A proper erosion and sedimentation control plan can help thwart all these issues.

3. Limit diesel consumption and carbon emissions

Unfortunately, excavation work often involves using equipment that is not environmentally friendly. Though emissions regulations have ensured the diesel-powered equipment being sold today is far less impactful than that of even 10 years ago, there is still an impact in running this equipment.

You can minimize this negative effect by properly planning out the project to reduce the number of vehicles needed on-site and only running equipment when necessary. When possible, it is also helpful to use alternative fuel sources and hybrid equipment to decrease overall carbon emissions.

During excavation projects, there can be a lot of driving back and forth involved for trucking and dumping, which uses up fuel and increases carbon emissions. Although much of this driving cannot be avoided, there are some ways to reduce it.

For instance, if you are working on a smaller site, you should encourage your workers to walk between locations rather than driving between them. If you are working on a larger site, encourage workers to ride share.

4. Dampen the excavation site to limit dust

One of the most significant ways that excavation leads to the contamination of nearby areas is through the production of large amounts of dust, which is then blown to other locations.

Although some dust production may be inevitable, there are ways to limit it. It is important to have access to water and hoses so that you can keep the dig site wet or damp for the duration of the excavation. This will prevent dust from forming and spreading.

In addition, if loose materials have been organized into stockpiles on your dig site, try to cover these piles to help decrease the spread of dust.

5. Limit or eliminate re-work

Doing the job twice will clearly result in increased emissions and environmental impact, not to mention increased costs and reduced time to move on to other jobs.

Fortunately several machine control systems are available on the market to help ensure your team does the job with precision, the first time. This can not only reduce the impact of your equipment, but reduce the need for repeat visits from the survey team.

How Great West Equipment Can Help Reduce Your Excavation-Related Environmental Impact

Another way to manage the environmental effects during an excavation project is by investing in environmentally-friendly equipment designed to be more sustainable.

If you are seeking eco-friendly excavators for sale in BC, Great West Equipment carries a wide variety of such equipment, including machines that are designed using the latest and most innovative technologies to reduce their environmental impact. We stock our inventory with equipment from brands committed to sustainability, such as Volvo.

Great West also carries and supports Hemisphere GradeMetrix Machine Control Systems, a lower-cost alternative that can be used on any make or model and integrated with other Machine Control systems on the market.

Investing in the right equipment can decrease carbon emissions not only during excavation projects but on all job sites. We can help you achieve this aim by guiding you towards equipment with sustainable power solutions and improved efficiency. Our team of equipment experts is familiar with all of the details of our machines and will gladly help you meet your goals.

For more information about our excavators for sale in BC or to learn more about our most eco-friendly equipment, call Great West Equipment at 1-888-GW-24-365 or contact us here.

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