Green and Sustainable Remediation
The goal of remediation is to protect human health and the environment. The traditional process for selecting remedies focused on achieving this goal and rightfully so. However, within this goal, exercising a sustainable design approach during the RD and/or RPO phase can create a remedy that is more sustainable.
By nature, a remediation, if properly administered, is sustainable. It improves the environment, land value, and public trust. However, not all remedies are equivalent in terms of sustainability and a simplified sustainable remediation evaluation (SRE) process was developed by the Air National Guard (ANG) based on the USEPA Region 9 Green Remediation Primer (Primer) to identify opportunities for optimizing the sustainability of existing remedies.
The Primer provides focused core elements that frame the SRE. In addition, the ANG’s targeted scope was critical in the efficient and cost effective completion of the evaluation. Within the bounds of the evaluation, a sustainable aspect inventory was completed for each core element and associated impacts noted. Alternatives to mitigate the impacts identified by the sustainable aspect inventory were developed for consideration and potential implementation.
The SRE’s completed by the ANG resulted in developing normalized metrics such as pounds of CO2 equivalents emitted per pound of contaminant removed by the existing remedy. Setting a normalized baseline can gauge sustainable improvements of a remedy in terms of the clean-up effectiveness. Moreover, several alternatives were identified that could improve the sustainable parameters of the existing remedies such as reducing energy consumption and tailpipe emissions. Case study specifics will be presented.
In summary, a design for sustainability approach may be better suited for the RD phase. However, existing remedies can be readily and cost effectively assessed to either introduce sustainable alternatives or improve sustainable parameters during the RPO phase without compromising remedial objectives.