2017 Sustainability Report

Environmental performance

At SNC-Lavalin, we strive to ensure that our activities support the development of communities while causing no lasting harm to the environment. We help our clients deliver projects that improve people’s lives and generate value for generations to come.

To this end, 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.

2017 results

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

GEMS 2017 Leading Indicator Accomplishment
Internal environmental audits conducted Completed 97% of the planned internal environmental audits for our four business sectors (96% in 2016)
Nonconformities identified during corporate environmental audits closed within 90 days Reviewed and closed 100% of the nonconformities within 90 days (100% in 2016)
Environmental investigations conducted Reviewed and closed 100% of the environmental incidents requiring investigation (100% in 2016)
Lessons learned related to environmental incidents or initiatives Produced 100% of the required lessons learned across all business sectors (75% in 2016)
Site visits demonstrating visible environmental leadership conducted by senior managers Conducted 69% of the planned senior manager site visits (72% in 2016)

Environmental incidents

We continue to strive for excellence in our environmental performance. In 2017, we defined ‘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 BlueSky, our HSE database. 

Level III or significant incidents

Last year in GEMS, Level III or significant environmental incidents were defined 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 (2013 to 2017)*
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
0 4 2** 6** 2**

* Occurrences at all our sites

** Includes notices of violation

In 2017, one of the two Level III incidents involved a violation ticket for failing to submit the necessary documentation to government authorities prior to repairing a riprap protective structure along a stream shoreline. Work on the riprap was immediately stopped while we submitted the appropriate application and notification.

The second level III incident consisted of an environmental release of high pH into an off-site creek. Following the incident, construction workers received additional training on dewatering procedures to ensure high pH water is retained onsite until treated to meet legal discharge criteria.

Level I and II incidents

We also track Level I and II or less significant environmental incidents. In 2017, 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.

A new incident classification system in 2018


In 2017, integrating our H&S and environmental management systems, along with the Atkins acquisition, required that we completely revise our environmental incident classification system. As of January 2018, we replaced our three-level environmental incident classification with low and high potential and near-miss metrics to align with Atkins’ classification system. We also converted all our previous incidents to this system. 

The new system helps refocus our attention on the few incidents with an actual or high potential environmental impact. In 2017, 98.55% of our incidents had a low potential impact. These low-impact incidents, such as spilling a few drops of a substance in a manmade environment like a mechanically compacted gravel area, still need to be recorded and addressed. 

While we’ll continue to ensure that these low potential impact incidents don’t increase, the most significant improvement will come from the lessons learned related to the 1.45% of high potential incidents and near-misses that could have had a serious impact if our prevention system had failed.


Lessons learned

In 2017, we shared 12 lessons learned via our HSE representatives network site. In 2018, we’ll transfer these lessons to our HSE Knowledge Management Network. The lessons learned revolved around:

  • Preventing environmental incidents (e.g. creating impervious surface refuelling areas at construction sites securing hydraulic hoses to keep them away from moving parts to reduce wear and tear) 
  • Sharing effective environmental initiatives that can be implemented on other projects (e.g. replacing batteries with solar panels at noise monitoring stations, reducing the quantity of chemicals used and stored at a water desalination plant via process optimization, and using flash gas as an alternative combustible for the volatile organic compound incinerator at a gas processing plant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutant emissions at the flare stack)

Environmental focus at our facilities

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.

Energy consumption (2011 to 2017)
Energy (GJ)1 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
836,923 566,857 213,888 172,238 / 559,273* 945,415 884,123 NA**
GHG emissions1 (t eq CO2) 45,392 33,095 10,717 9,689 / 62,683* 71,154* 62,389 NA**

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.

** Given that our 2017 sustainability report was released in May 2018, earlier than our previous reports, 2017 data was not available for inclusion in the report. Data for 2017 will be published in our CDP report in June 2018 as well as in next year’s sustainability report.  


In 2017, a total of nine SNC-Lavalin entities and projects were certified ISO 14001 and nine were certified OHSAS 18001. These figures represent a slight decrease in the absolute number of our certifications. This decrease is due, in part, to the sale of our airport and integrated Real Estate Solutions operation and maintenance activities, the completion of a major project in Poland as well as the removal of O&M Algeria from Infrastructure’s umbrella certification. 

In 2017, approximately 72% of the SNC-Lavalin workforce operated under a ISO 14001 certification and about 70% under OSHAS 18001. Atkins’ integrated ISO 9001,14001 and OSHAS 18001 certification covered 84% of its workforce. Following Atkins’ integration, our global certification rate stood at about 75%.

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 2017, the following Canadian projects received LEED certification:

  • Saint-Laurent Sports Complex (Montreal, Quebec): Gold level certification (Mechanical, electrical and civil engineering mandate)
  • Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center’s research centre and specialized units’ building (Montreal, Quebec): Gold level certification (Engineering construction and financing mandate)
  • Canmore Multiplex - Elevation Place recreation facility (Canmore, Alberta): Silver level certification (Mechanical engineering mandate)
  • Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport’s international jetty expansion (Montreal, Quebec): Silver level certification (Civil engineering mandate)

In 2017, our very own 12-storey office located in Vancouver, British Columbia, which was built according to the LEED Canada for Commercial Interiors 1.0 standards, received Gold level certification.

vancouver-office-1-thumb 1 vancouver-office-2-thumb vancouver-office-3-thumb


Conveniently located near a central sky train station, our new downtown Vancouver office tower promotes mass transit use to help reduce emissions and pollutants. Its ‘green office space’ concept features open workstations, access to natural light, LED lighting, motion-sensing light switches, low VOC latex paints, premium blinds and high-quality recycled fibre carpets. These and many other design elements create a modern office space with less environmental impact while improving the well-being of our employees. 

In 2015, we began working with the EnvisionTM standard issued by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. Eight 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.