At Sierra Construction, we believe that we have been given the land and waters in which we live. Therefore, the protection of these gifts is considered to be of paramount importance. Due to this belief, Sierra Construction Group adopted the ISO 14001 standard for Environmental Management Systems nearly 15 years ago.
Now, you're probably wondering - what does it mean to be ISO 14001-Certified? What is ISO 14001?
ISO 14001 is the international standard for an environment management system. It specifies requirements or actions on our sites to be taken to minimize effects on the environment and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Simply put, the ISO 14001 standard aids us to identify possible threats to the environment and ensure we take measures to protect it.
The ISO 14001 Standard is also about maintaining the system and continuous improvement. To ensure this, audits are conducted to check the system. We conduct periodic internal audits (completed by our trained employees) as well as external audits (conducted by trained third parties). Nonconformities or deficiencies in the system are immediately corrected to reflect our commitment to protecting our environment and supporting natural resource conservation in the community.
A great example demonstrating how Sierra Construction implements ISO 14001 is the different methods we adopted to curb the environmental impact of one of our Sierra Bridge projects: the Long Point Causeway Bridge.
In November 2022, our Sierra Bridge team replaced the existing, aging timber bridge and the only access to Long Point. This bridge crossing sits on the 3.5-kilometer-long causeway that links the Long Point Peninsula on Lake Erie with mainland Southern Ontario. The causeway splits the Long Point Lake Erie Inner Bay and the Big Creek Marsh, one of the largest remaining coastal wetlands on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
Located within the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation, the project limits encompassed the habitat of 17 endangered species and was a federally designated critical fish habitat. Due to the environmental sensitivity of the site, permits were required from local, provincial, and federal environmental authorities, and new methods of mitigating impacts to the environment had to be developed and innovated by our team.
Offsetting and compensation for the impacts to the environment were undergone to establish new habitats for species at risk including:
The creation of three ponds, complete with dredged channels connecting ponds and wetlands, to facilitate a fish spawning habitat with banks for turtle nesting
The installation of bat boxes to compensate for tree removals
The installation of nesting cups for barn swallow nesting (maintained throughout construction)
Permanent wildlife controls were also incorporated into the bridge and road construction, including:
Passages for snakes and turtle crossings below the road
Exclusionary fencing to channel wildlife toward safe crossings and away from the active roadway
Wildlife ledges incorporated into the rock protection slope stabilization around the bridge abutments
Sierra Bridge worked with LEA Consulting, Canadian Wildlife Services, the Long Point Region Conservation Authority, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Transport Canada to ensure that we were being as eco-friendly as possible on this job to prevent harming the environment. Ensuring environmental protection during this construction project not only safeguarded fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats but also contributed to the preservation of biodiversity.
We are all becoming more aware of how important our environment is to us, considering health effects, safety, growth, and the future. By prioritizing environmental protection on construction sites, we can create a sustainable future. By working together, identifying, reviewing, and monitoring environmental issues before, during, and after project completion, we will aid in preventing harm and keeping this gift of our home protected at all costs.
"Don’t abuse – Recycle, Reduce, Re-Use" - Sierra Construction's Environmental Protection Policy