Building what matters, sustainably – 2016 Sustainability Report

Environmental Performance

Environmental performance

At SNC-Lavalin, we require all our controlled sites—offices, operations and projects—to report all incidents and leading indicators for both our employees and our contractors. For non-controlled sites, only the environmental incidents triggered by our direct hire employees and contractors must be reported.

2016 results

For the second consecutive year, we monitored five Global Environmental Management System (GEMS) leading indicators. 

GEMS 2016 Leading Indicator Accomplishment
Internal environmental audits conducted Completed 96% of the planned internal environmental audits for our four business sectors (89% in 2015)
Nonconformities identified during corporate environmental audits closed within 90 days* Reviewed and closed 100% of the nonconformities within 90 days
Environmental investigations conducted Reviewed and closed 100% of the environmental incidents requiring investigation (100% in 2015)
Lessons learned related to environmental incidents or initiatives Produced 75% of the required lessons learned across all business sectors (100% in 2015; requirement for all business units to produce at least one lesson learned on an environmental incident or initiative)
Site visits demonstrating visible environmental leadership conducted by senior managers Conducted 72% of the planned senior manager site visits (68% in 2015)

*In 2016, we replaced the “employees trained on GEMS” leading indicator with “nonconformities identified during corporate environmental audits closed within 90 days.” While GEMS training for employees remains a requirement, we no longer monitor it as a leading indicator. Our business sector Health & Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Leads now oversee GEMS training.

Environmental incidents

We continue to strive for excellence in our environmental performance. We define ‘excellence’ as zero significant environmental incidents, zero notices of violation or any other governmental enforcement action during all project stages.

To help manage environmental incidents, all our sites are expected to conduct an annual environmental incident drill. We take concrete steps to increase employees’ awareness and commitment to reporting incidents. These steps include orientation sessions and specific spill response training on major projects. As required by GEMS, all environmental incidents, regardless of their severity or potential impact, must be reported in the HSSE database. 

Level III or significant incidents

In GEMS, Level III environmental incidents are classified as ‘significant.’ We define Level III incidents as involving any of the following:

  • An immediate threat to human life/security or necessitates site evacuation or fire department intervention
  • A persistent or extensive effect on water, soil or air quality
  • Major damage to an aquatic or terrestrial ecosystem
  • Contamination affecting sensitive areas or protected species
  • Closure of an extraction point/water well to human consumption
  • Water or soil contamination that spreads outside site boundaries
  • Extensive decontamination required by specialized external resources
  • A significant or persistent breach of permit/license or consent conditions
  • A notice of violation or citation from regulatory authorities
  • Potential prosecution or prosecution by regulatory authorities 
  • A hydrocarbon or hazardous material spill on land equal to or greater than 200 litres
  • A hydrocarbon or hazardous material spill in water equal to or greater than 100 litres

Significant environmental incidents (2012 to 2016)*
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
0 0 4 2** 6**
* Occurrences at all our sites
** Includes notices of violation

In 2016, three of the six Level III incidents were notices of violation (NOVs) and three were environmental releases. 

Notices of violation

Two of the three NOVs were due to earthworks not shown on the plans approved by local authorities. Neither of the earthworks had any impact on the environment. The third NOV was for a visual nuisance—uncut grass and an abandoned shed and vehicles—at one of our facilities. While none of these infractions resulted in fines or further enforcement, corrective actions were taken. These minor issues led to a renewed focus on work instructions and procedural compliance. 

Environmental releases

Two of the three environmental releases in 2016 were related to equipment fluid releases to land exceeding 200 litres. The third one involved an approximately 300-litre release of 19% aqueous ammonia into a secondary containment that required the evacuation of workers in the immediate vicinity. Response teams were immediately on hand to address the releases as per our site intervention plans and local legislation. No significant impact on the environment was observed. 

Level I and II incidents

Every year, we also track Level I and II or less significant environmental incidents. In 2016, the most common Level I and II incidents were hydraulic oil spills/leaks, fuel spills, coolant/antifreeze spills and sediment releases. The top three causes of incidents were hose ruptures/disconnects/leaks, equipment failure other than hoses, and improper handling. 

The following Best Environmental Management Practices (BEMPs) focus on preventing these types of incidents:

  • Regular preventive maintenance and inspections shall be conducted on equipment.
  • Hazardous materials shall be stored within secondary containment. 
  • Hazardous materials shall be stored at a safe distance from any sensitive area.
  • Refuelling activities shall be conducted on impermeable surfaces or using impermeable liners or absorbent sheets.
  • Refuelling and fluid transfer activities shall be supervised at all times.
  • Maintenance activities shall be conducted at a safe distance from any sensitive area.
  • Stationary equipment (compressors, generators, heating devices, etc.) shall be placed on drip pans.
  • Soil disturbance shall be limited to current work areas.

Perfect Days


In 2016, we introduced the notion of Perfect Days. A Perfect Day is any calendar day with no work-related injuries, security events or environmental releases. This global indicator covers all our activities and sites around the clock. We registered 27 Perfect Days in 2016 and our target for 2017 is a minimum of 30 Perfect Days.

Lessons learned

In 2016, we focused on quality instead of quantity with seven lessons learned produced and distributed to the four business sectors’ HSSE Leads. The lessons learned revolved around:

  • Preventing environmental incidents
  • Taking extreme weather into account at the design stage
  • Presenting effective environmental initiatives that can be implemented on other projects (e.g. improved concrete washout areas on construction sites)

Environmental focus at our facilities

Due to the nature of our business, our greatest opportunity to positively impact the environment is through our clients’ projects. At the same time, we continuously seek and implement solutions to shrink our own facilities’ environmental footprint. This includes programs to reduce waste and energy consumption. 

In 2016, we developed a standard operating procedure (SOP) to standardize environmental management at our offices around the world. We also created an office environmental tool to verify compliance with the SOP. We’ll begin implementing this standard in 2017, starting with our 21-storey global headquarters in Montreal, Canada.

Energy consumption

We’ve been filing an annual Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report since 2007.  Major sources of emissions include our offices and production facilities as well as our Oil & Gas sector's field activities. Only first-hand information is used for Scope 1 and 2 calculations. While our emissions inventory isn’t verified externally, the calculations are verified internally by our Acoustics, Air Quality and Climate Change team. This team provides our external clients with verification services.

We set a year-over-year emissions reduction target for office locations of 5% for 2016. Further restructuring and optimization enabled us to surpass our 2016 target and decrease our office-related emissions (scope 1 and 2) by 24% compared to 2015. This marked the fourth consecutive year of reductions. 

Our overall scope 1 and 2 emissions dropped by 12%, due to a change in our projects’ nature and location and optimisation of all permanent sites including production facilities associated with our Production & Processing Solutions business unit.

Energy consumption (2011 to 2016)
Energy (GJ)1 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
836,923 566,857 213,888 172,238 / 559,273* 945,415 884,123
GHG emissions1 (t eq CO2) 45,392 33,095 10,717 9,689 / 62,683* 71,154* 62,389

1 Direct (scope 1) and indirect (scope 2)

* In August 2014, SNC-Lavalin acquired Kentz. For the 2014 reporting year, the two companies filed separate data on energy consumption and GHG emissions. SNC-Lavalin’s GHG emissions totalled 9,689 t eq CO2 and the combined SNC-Lavalin and Kentz emissions totalled 62,683 t eq CO2.  This combined total must be compared with the 2015 total of 71,154 t eq CO2. The increase between 2014 and 2015 is attributed to higher emissions associated with increased field activities on project sites.


In 2016, a total of 13 SNC-Lavalin entities and projects were certified ISO 14001 and 11 were certified OHSAS 18001. The umbrella certification of our Oil & Gas sector covers 62% of our workforce. The following graph breaks down the certifications by business sector:


In Canada and abroad, we have a team of more than 80 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) accredited professionals. In 2015, we began working with the EnvisionTM standard issued by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. Seven SNC-Lavalin employees are now certified ENVISIONTM Sustainability Professionals. We expect this number to grow as the use of this new standard to design and build sustainable infrastructure increases.


We’ve been celebrating Canadian Environment Week since 2007. In 2016, we held our first global HSSE Week during Canadian Environment Week. The intent of the week was to raise our employees’ awareness of the importance of health & safety, security and the environment in their day-to-day life, and to celebrate what we do well as individuals and as a company. Among other activities, employees participated in the following webinars:

  • Integrating sustainability into our projects
  • Health & safety impacts across our organization
  • Our travel security program
  • Our business resilience and recovery program