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Chapter 1
Introduction and Research Approach
1.1. Problem Statement and Research Objectives

The drafters of the scope for this project recognized a pressing need for information regarding environmental stewardship practices in construction and maintenance in order to increase environmental sensitivities and help states avoid "reinventing the wheel." Thus, this project was designed to help DOTs apply more quickly and easily that which has already been learned or developed by others. To this end, this report describes sample practices and then links the user to pertinent examples, design drawings, or more detailed technical guidance or procedures.

State transportation agencies are increasingly adopting a wide array of stewardship and environmental protection and enhancement practices, many on a voluntary basis. Regulatory agencies, insurers, and interest groups also favor adoption of construction and maintenance practices that protect or enhance the environment. The need for standards and improvements in environmental processes and practices has risen with:

  • Public concern for the environment and sustainability.
  • Acknowledgement at both the state and federal level of the importance of environmental issues and demonstrating environmental stewardship.
  • Proliferating national, state, and local regulation and standards.
  • Evolution from "command and control" to self-motivating strategies.

DOTs also have efficiency reasons for pursuing environmental stewardship practices. Raw material usage, energy consumption, waste generation, storage of materials, environmental mitigation, maintenance of construction sites and the final facilities and roadsides all require a significant investment of financial resources. Efficient, effective, and environmentally conscious use of these resources can yield both financial and ecological benefits.

The specific objective of this research was to develop a compendium of practices for integrating environmental stewardship into construction, operations, and maintenance activities. The Random House College Dictionary defines a compendium as a list or inventory. The practices included in this compendium have applicability beyond specific state or local regulations. Many environmental stewardship practices and operational controls are commonly employed by state transportation agencies. Those that are self-explanatory as listed are presented herein in bulleted checklist format by functional areas, and in some cases by environmental media. Other more complex/comprehensive and highly recommended models of practices, policies, procedures, or programs are identified and described in greater detail, with examples and links provided whenever possible. Where states are using performance measures to evaluate practices, or more widespread standards are available, these are included as well.

While "the original project refers mainly to specific technical practices and procedures," a revised scope developed by the panel suggested that "this should be broadened to include policy, organizational and management approaches, up to and including overall environmental management policies [such as] PennDOT's SEMP ( Strategic Environmental Management Program) …a comprehensive guide to implementing Pennsylvania's Green Plan…Partnerships between DOTs and resource agencies is another example of an organizational approach to environmental stewardship. The adoption of environmental management systems and policies should be documented in different sections of the report from the compendium of specific best practices." Thus, in addition to construction and maintenance practices, initial chapters were developed on organizational level stewardship practice and requested areas in pre-construction, including context sensitive design, wildlife crossings, and bioengineering.

 

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Table of Contents
 
Chapter 1
Introduction and Research Approach
1.1 Problem Statement and Research Objectives
1.2 The Trend Toward Environmental Stewardship
1.3 Scope of Study and Definition of Environmental Stewardship Practices
1.4 Research Approach
1.5 Research Uses
1.6 Disclaimer/Limitation of Liability
   
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