There is a growing requirement to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for capital projects before the decision to move forward with the proposed project or not. The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) defines an environmental impact assessment as “the process of identifying, predicting, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, and other relevant effects of development proposals before major decisions are taken and commitments made”. EIAs are unique in that they do not require adherence to a predetermined environmental outcome, but rather they require decision-makers to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the potential environmental impacts.
Using Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb, capital project owners can create checklists to help them to identify the likely significant environmental effects of the proposed projects during the initial scoping phases and before a project is approved. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the Environmental Impact Analysis Checklist form. The content of the checklist included in the form is an example of what such a form could include but project owners need to create their own depending on the requirements for preparing the environmental assessment report.
The checklist will be completed in two stages, the first stage will be to identify potential impacts of the project under review by answering questions grouped under ten key questions. Those questions will be used to identify all the activities or sources of the impact that could arise from the construction, operation, or decommissioning of the project. For example, the first key question will be “Will Construction, Operation, or Decommissioning of the Project Involve Actions which will Cause Physical Changes in the Locality (Topography, Land Use, Changes in Water Bodies, etc.)?”. Under this question, there will be a list of thirty-two activities that need to be responded to as Yes, No, or “?” for uncertainty to occur. The “Yes” response will be if the activity is likely to occur during the implementation of the project; the “No” response if the activity is not expected to occur and “?” if it is uncertain at this stage whether it will occur or not.
The second stage is to provide additional details for questions that were either answered as “Yes” or “?” for being uncertain. For example, if the response to the question “01.06 Demolition Works?” was Yes, then a response needs to be provided to the column titled “Which Characteristics of the Project Environment Could be Affected and How?”. The response could be for example “Will require demolition of 2 historic buildings”.
The last column which is titled “Is the Effect Likely to be Significant? Why?” will identify those impacts which are expected to be significant. Accordingly, for the same question “01.06 Demolition Works?”, the response could be “Yes – Buildings are nationally designated”.
Similar to other PMWeb modules, the attachment tab will be used to attach all supportive documents used in responding to the checklist. Those could include the proposed project location plan, pictures, studies done by third parties, and details of meetings held with the local communities among others. It is highly recommended that all those supportive documents are uploaded and stored in the PMWeb document management repository under a folder that will be titled Environmental Impact Analysis. In addition, links to other PMWeb records like meeting minutes among others as well as imported MS Outlook emails be linked to the EIA checklist form.
To ensure the formal review and approval of the environmental impact analysis checklist response including the affected areas and the significance of the effect, a workflow will be assigned to the EIA checklist form. This will enforce the needed accountability in submitting, reviewing, and approving the environmental impact analysis.
A report will be designed to capture the results of the Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) checklist response. The report will summarize the responses for the ten categories by Yes, No, and Uncertain as well as provide the total number of questions answered as Yes, No and Uncertain. The report will also include a table of all questions answered as “Yes” or “? Or Uncertain” to detail the response to the “Which Characteristics of the Project Environment Could be Affected and How?” and “Is the Effect Likely be Significant? Why?”. The report layout and format can be of course designed in any desired form and format.
About the Author
Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value of over US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.
Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), an Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE), and a Green Project Management (GPM).
Bassam holds a Master’s in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – from Kuwait University, Kuwait, and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.