Happy Earth Day!

It may seem antithetical for a site contractor to celebrate Earth Day. Our scope of work on projects often includes clearing land with heavy machinery. That said, our field and equipment maintenance teams take daily steps to minimize our work’s environmental impact. Two of the most impactful revolve around erosion & sediment controls and the impact of our equipment fleet.

Properly Constructing & Maintaining Erosion and Sediment Controls

As site contractors, we play a crucial role in completing and getting approval for an erosion and sediment (E&S) control plan before embarking on any construction project. This plan outlines how we contain soil and dirt disruption caused by on-site construction activities. This protects downstream environments from potential runoff carrying dirt, silt, or other foreign debris.

Depending on the scale and impact of the project on the surrounding environment, an erosion and sediment control plan can be approved at the local, state, and federal levels. The approval process often involves a site meeting with stakeholders from the regulatory side and our team to ensure we’re in lockstep before construction commences.

Once approved, our teams implement the erosion and sediment control plan and all associated components. From silt fences that contain dirt on site to sediment basins that allow silt to settle before clean water exits the site, our team ensures all components are installed correctly.

At that point, the job is complete, right? Just set it and forget it. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Maintaining an E&S system’s components is as critical as its design and installation. A destroyed section of the silt fence must be rebuilt, and clogged inlet protection must be replaced to keep the controls operating effectively. With dozens, sometimes hundreds, of contractors on a project throughout the project’s lifecycle, maintenance is critical to mitigate the potential impact of that volume of activity.

Maintaining a Cutting-Edge Equipment Fleet

Moving dirt and excavating for underground utilities require heavy construction equipment. Our team maintains a fleet of over 250 pieces of heavy construction equipment, from bulldozers to excavators. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lend itself to a petite carbon footprint. To combat this, our equipment maintenance team is constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and reduce fuel consumption.

We primarily use Caterpillar (Cat) equipment on our projects. You know, the big yellow machines? Cat began innovating with efficiency and sustainability in mind in the 1930s and continues that spirit of innovation today. Listed below are a few aspects of modern heavy equipment that we use to boost efficiency and reduce our environmental impact:

Equipment Telematics

Cat’s onboard telematics system allows our fleet maintenance team to monitor various machine functions, particularly idle time. When a machine idles unnecessarily, it burns excess fuel and puts more strain on it. By reducing idle time by turning machines off or moving machines to more productive use, we save money on spent fuel and decrease emissions.

Use of Rebuilt/Reman

Cat offers Rebuild/Reman solutions that return worn-out or end-of-life machines to a like-new state. This helps in two ways. An older machine is rebuilt with state-of-the-art systems that allow it to run more efficiently. In addition, a machine that might’ve been bound for the scrap yard is put back into service for decades rather than purchasing a new machine.

GPS & Sensor-Enabled Equipment

The era of “dumb” machines is over. Nearly all of our new equipment is ready for GPS systems, which allow precision excavating and grading. A GPS-equipped dozer enables the operator to cut precisely to the grade specified in the GPS model, reducing the time and material needed to achieve the final design. Similarly, an excavator with a scale in the digging bucket can measure how much dirt is loaded into each truck. This ensures that our hauling operations are as efficient as possible and reduces the number of trucks on the road.

Continuous Improvement

Candidly, sustainability can be seen as a dirty word in our industry. That said, efficiency is not. All contractors are chasing the most efficient way to build a project. Luckily for us and our home planet, increases in efficiency often spell decreases in emissions from equipment. Efficient operations coupled with adequate E&S controls help shrink our footprint while continuing to build top-quality projects. Progress Starts Here.