Algeria: ISO Certification – Construction
First in the world
A case study on achieving the first construction project ISO14001 certification
Consultant: Andy Ive
Why is achieving ISO certification so difficult for a construction project, particularly one in the oil and gas industry? Perhaps because the workforce, the management and the environmental engineers all have different and often conflicting priorities.
To ensure both the management and the workforce accept the need for an Environmental Management System and to keep the motivation to uphold it once certification has been achieved requires a comprehensive understanding of all the issues and an ability to engender commitment to a workable ideal.
Andy Ive helped to enable industry giant BP to achieve the very first ISO 14001 certificate to be awarded to a construction project in the world, setting up easily manageable systems to ensure the certification could be retained for years to come.
During the 1980s and 1990s, ISO certification was usually limited to certain sites or segments of a project. In 1996 however, BP discovered gas in the middle of the Sahara and decided to apply for ISO14001 certification for a whole project during the construction phase of the Algerian development at In Salah. This would be a highly acclaimed worldwide first for BP if it could be achieved.
IVE and the ISO14001 Environmental Management System
Back in the UK, consultant Andy Ive of IVE Design worked with the main contractor to write an Environmental Management System for the whole project. This included legislation, specification of waste and water systems and the training of contractors, environmental managers and the five thousand strong workforce. The EMS was successfully completed before work started on the site and ISO14001 certification was awarded during the mobilisation of the construction teams.
Putting theory into practice
The EMS looked great on the design board in the UK offices, but Andy Ive knew it had also to stand up to conditions middle of the Sahara, amidst sandstorms and blistering heat, with supply route problems due to the surrounding dunes and rocky cliffs. Add to that four sites, miles apart and a 500 mile pipeline and it was clear that getting the contractors to follow the EMS would in itself be a real challenge.
Training changes the mindset
The introduction of on-site training for the environmental managers by IVE enabled first-hand supervision of the workforce from the beginning. It also led to a change in mindset for the contractors who learned that environmental processes do not need to conflict with construction and budgetary goals but can actually help to achieve them, so much so that some sub-contractors are now obtaining their own ISO14001 certification. Whereas previously contractors had been happy to just bury waste in a big hole, now they realize the importance of protecting this spectacular desert environment.
An ongoing success
Thanks to the continuation of the training programme developed by IVE, ISO14001 certification for the whole project was retained and passed on to the operating phase.