Improving construction sites through environmental good practice

Philip Charles, CIRIA project manager, explains more about CIRIA’s ongoing work in providing site-based environmental good practice guidance for construction, and introduces the latest evolution of its widely adopted site guide.

Construction activities will inevitably have an impact on the environment and neighbours. However, good environmental practice enables these impacts to be managed positively. Impacts can take one of many forms, for example effects on surrounding neighbours, transport, noise or pollution or indirect effects associated with product selection. Clients, their professional advisers, contractors and the whole construction supply chain, all have responsibilities for environmental management.
Philip Charles

With this in mind, there is more than ever the need for practical, site-based guidance to support workers in meeting the obligations they are set (eg legislative or contractual), and assist them in identifying and applying improvements in practice. CIRIA has been supporting the construction industry in its goal of continuous improvement since 1999 through its environmental good practice on site guide.

Peter Johnson, Kier Group Environmental Manager has described the guide as:

"Comprehensive, concise and convenient, CIRIA’s Environmental good practice on site guide is a book that anyone involved in construction should have."

The site guide provides practical advice and guidance for environmental managers and site-based personnel on how to deliver sustainable construction on site by effectively managing a range of environmental issues. Those involved in the pre-construction phases of projects, including designers and clients and those supporting the constructions including suppliers can influence the ability of site-based personnel to meet their by adopting the good practice contained within the guide.

The fourth edition is an ‘evolution’ of the layout and structure that remains popular within the industry and forms the basis of CIRIA’s Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) approved one day training course. The update will take account of developments in practice and emergence of new issues/challenges the industry needs to take account of including Building Information Modelling (BIM), sustainable procurement, fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR), water footprinting and the circular economy.

Development of the fourth edition will strengthens CIRIA’s portfolio of site-based environmental site-based good practice guidance that covers both the terrestrial and coastal and marine environments, and provides advice for different audiences within the construction supply chain. Further details of the portfolio and links to other guidance can be found at:

I am now managing my third update of the guide and would like to thank the wide range of stakeholders that have joined me in the journey in ‘evolving’ CIRIA’s environmental good practice on site guide, and to keep it providing practical advice to meet the challenges on site. Without their support and enthusiasm the guide would not be the well-respected publication that it is today. I am excited by the developments we are taking forward in the new edition and am confident they will continue to assist those currently using it, but at the same time lead to new stakeholders adopting its guidance to support their work.

Daniel Whitely, Head of Environment at BAM Nutall as said of the guide:

"The good practice on site guide has been an invaluable resource throughout my career in environmental management, so to be involved in the process to update it to its fourth edition has been extremely satisfying. I am confident it will continue to give sound advice and guidance to a new generation of environmental specialists for many years to come. The challenge to ensure it remains as important a resource into the future means that alongside the more traditional aspects of pollution prevention, waste management and ecology we are embracing more contemporary elements such as resource efficiency, BIM and other sustainable construction practices, and the benefits they can bring to the industry."

It is important to remember that good environmental practice starts with planning for good site management!