It used to be that executives scouting a location for a new office building, manufacturing plant or distribution center only needed to consider potential revenue, local tax incentives and regulatory issues.
Today, however, as the United States gradually crawls out of a recession, organizations are starting to revisit their expansion plans. How they treat the local environment has become a key part of their site selection process. Why? Environmental concerns can directly affect a project’s overall costs and build schedule, public perception and workforce morale, as well as relationships with partners, government agencies and future generations.
Conversely, the location choice for a new development projectcan have a colossal impact on local and global environments. Environmental consequences can surface in everything from a facility’s location to design, orientation, impact on the landscape and the building materials used.
For example, gathering building materials impacts the environment. Harvesting trees could result in deforestation, mining mineral resources can disturb the natural environment, and even the transport of these materials can be a highly polluting activity, depending on their weight and distance from the site. Manufacturing building products also requires energy and creates environmental emissions.
Benefits of assessing environmental impact
Evaluating potential environmental impacts early -- during the actual land acquisition and site design and development phases -- can help avoid expense and lost time for projects down the road. The more developers know about potential constraints and options for mitigation plans, the better.
An intelligent site selection, as well as design plan, also should incorporate flexibility to allow for changes that could arise during development.
Identifying potential environmental problems, such as air and water quality, allows developers to consider mitigation solutions as part of the project's overall design, thereby minimizing the costs and physical limitations of such solutions.
In addition, such knowledge can be a powerful tool during the due diligence process. It can be used to assess mitigation costs, which in turn can be used to negotiate the purchase price of land.
Next page: How to make an intelligent site selection