Increased awareness of environmental issues around demolition and construction sites has resulted in growing numbers of local complaints by nearby residents—especially when visible dust or annoying levels of noise and damage-causing vibration are migrating off site. While the makeup of the surrounding community (e.g., residential versus industrial) and the interests of local regulatory agencies can have a vast impact on the level of scrutiny being put to any single project and its environmental footprint, the trend is towards greater attention being placed on all projects that produce these unwanted sources of contamination. Dealing with and responding to specific complaints or facing possible interruptions to the work can add considerable time and money to the project. Additionally, intangible costs, such as negative community perception about the builder’s reputation for environmental awareness, can add future impediments or resistance to new project permitting.
DEALING WITH THE COMPLAINT
Occasionally, these issues will grow into contentious complaints. The ability to offer a quick “scientific” response to these complaints can make the difference between minimal interruption to the project and strong community pushback—or even a situation that leads to intervention on the part of local regulatory agencies. In the past, noise and dust complaints were difficult and expensive to deal with as real-time monitors typically required the physical presence of a trained professional to do the monitoring. Recent development of new monitoring instrumentation greatly reduces or even eliminates the need for these strategies because, with a modest investment in standalone continuous unattended monitoring technology, the problem is solved with minimal intervention and maintenance.
Unattended continuous monitoring has been elevated to a completely new level with Casella’s Noise Guardian™ and Boundary Guardian™ monitoring systems. Now, when noise, dust, or vibration levels rise above acceptable levels, real-time alerts are being delivered by text message and email to those who need to know and can take appropriate action.
Typical applications for this type of system include construction and demolition projects where the site is in a developed and environmentally sensitive location. A good example is in the famous Waikiki Beach area of Hawaii, where an older structure was recently razed to make room for a new multi-story shopping mall. While this area is already densely inhabited and known for its tourism and bustling nightlife, the additional noise and dust created by the demolition and construction process needed to be monitored continuously for up to a 2-year period. Ten specific locations around the perimeter of the project were selected for erecting a contractor-specified Casella Boundary Guardian™ network of monitoring systems. All ten systems measured noise and four units also measured total suspended particulate (TSP). One of the systems also had wind speed and wind direction sensors integrated directly into the data stream to correlate all the emissions of the site to local weather patterns. This capability allowed site and project managers to know which of the surrounding residents and property managers were likely to lodge complaints first when the levels became elevated.
RUGGED DESIGN FOR CONTINUOUS DATA
One of the primary considerations in selecting these systems for this very sensitive project was the Boundary Guardians’ extremely rugged packaging and continuous data acquisition capability; coupled with the ability to include wind speed, wind direction, and even vibration monitoring alongside the noise and particulate level data with multiple sites around the perimeter, all reporting back to a secure server allowing access to the data 24/7. The sound level measurement capability built into the Noise Guardian and Boundary Guardian units satisfies and exceeds local requirements for accuracy and calculation of important environmental metrics for day/night levels, as well as hourly data. The units also provide detailed time-history data that can illustrate noise fluctuations by time and link this to on-site work activities.
Most important, these systems are sending real-time alerts to secure servers that in turn can push those alerts out to any or all designated personnel or other stakeholders as they happen. This gives the project manager, site supervisor, or safety health and environmental manager the ability to be notified instantly if undesirable levels of noise, dust, or vibration are being generated at the site. Countermeasures can then be applied and the work modified until levels are brought back to within acceptable limits. This proves invaluable especially when projects are being carried out in densely populated or otherwise sensitive areas.
Managing and accessing the data that are produced when running a continuous monitoring operation can be daunting. With Dataview 24/7 software, reports are easily accessed in a simple on-screen view, anytime, from virtually any PC, tablet, or smartphone, with a simple, secure login. Formatted management reports are easily generated with user-defined time periods, with as much or as little detail as deemed appropriate. Data can even be superimposed onto a high-resolution map of the site, providing local residents and other interested parties with clearly understandable evidence of the contractor’s commitment to environmental compliance.
Guardian systems were selected for this project and for many others around the world because they provide the all data that is needed in real time and are highly configurable. They are well constructed in a non-descript weatherproof housing to protect the components from the extremes of both tropical and winter weather conditions encountered over the life of a project or projects. Plus, they are very easy to install and commission by non-technical personnel with minimal routine maintenance. The remote cellular communications are very reliable and provide the ability to access reports and get real-time alerts anytime, from anywhere. ■
About The Author:
Rob Brauch is a business unit manager with Casella CEL Inc., based in Buffalo, New York. For more information, visit www.casellausa.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, March 2015
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