9. Can you say more about the oil and gas industry and its environmental challenges?
We have a great deal of oil and gas infrastructure around the globe that must be re-designed to stay relevant and meet greenhouse gas reduction goals. There are a lot of opportunities at the refining stage to reduce waste and utilize waste byproducts. There are major onshore manufacturing facilities being built and planned in the Gulf of Mexico that WSP can provide support in infrastructure design, CM/PM, remediation, environmental permitting and compliance.
We’re also leveraging our expertise in mining—where we’ve done a lot of work on reclamation and management of tailings that can apply to design and restoration of pipelines design and construction. We can apply the same techniques for stream crossings, reclaiming them back to their natural state after pipeline construction. This is an example of where we draw on diverse expertise to help clients across industries.
We grew these capabilities significantly with our 2021 acquisition of Golder, which has tremendous capabilities in mining and industrial and commercial markets. Golder staff are now sharing their expertise and technologies across WSP to serve varied industries in a wide range of countries.
We’re also applying our expertise from the mining sector to help electric utility clients address their coal combustion residuals. The techniques we’re using are speeding up the process, reducing impacts to surrounding communities, and more efficiently moving to closure on CCR ponds. The expedited remediation also contributes to the clients’ ESG ratings.
10. Wind and solar are encountering more pushback because of impacts on habitats and indigenous people. What approaches do you advocate to mitigate these impacts, and what value does WSP offer in this space?
We need to think holistically about how to incorporate protection of habitats, and people, into these large-scale renewable energy projects.
As part of the environmental mitigations required for approval, it is critical that we incorporate specific habitat restoration measures tied to local-, region- and state-level habitat conservation efforts to support the funding and implementation of these critical projects. Our biodiversity, coastal restoration, climate, sustainability and resilience services all contribute to the research, assessment and implementation of renewable developments.
One significant opportunity lies in the rapidly expanding area of agrivoltaics. We are bringing together our energy and environmental experts to look at co-beneficial land use opportunities around solar developments, and to design habitats that enhance biodiversity and ecological uplift, and maximize the sustainability quotient of these projects.
I’m also very proud of the coastal tidal restoration and resilience work we are doing support habitat enhancement. Our Saw Mill Creek Restoration project—the first wetland mitigation bank of its kind in New York City—won a 2021 Business Achievement Award from Environmental Business Journal. Another, The Living Breakwaters project, was designed to reduce the risk of storm damage to Staten Island, New York by creating engineered living oyster reefs to attenuate waves and reduce shoreline erosion, provide habitat to the bay’s marine life ecosystem and rebuild local oyster populations.
The environmental justice impacts of renewable energy, coastal, urban and all projects to indigenous communities and other vulnerable populations, need to be mitigated through the planning, environmental assessment, permitting and design processes. Leveraging the advisory specialists in our Equity Center of Excellence, we are building these considerations into each project to better inform the development of equitable outcomes.
By partnering closely with clients and resource agencies, we can help mitigate impacts from these necessary projects, while assisting in developing the funding the programs required to restore and protect wetlands and other habitats.
[To subscribe to Insights, contact the editorial staff at [email protected].]