Building Materials

How Dragados USA Navigates Environmental Management in Construction

Learn how Jason Phillips, Environmental Manager for Dragados USA navigates the emerging risks and operational challenges of managing environmental compliance programs in the construction industry.

Jason is the Environmental Manager for Dragados USA overseeing construction project environmental compliance. As an environmental leader, he has led environmental compliance with associated water and air quality , cultural, paleontological, hazardous material , vibration, noise, jurisdictional waters and special-status species issues over the past 15+ years. In this week’s coffee and compliance, Jason shared how environmental compliance is addressed in all phases of projects and how the perception of environmental management has evolved within the construction industry .

Pre-project planning

Within the construction industry, it is important to always be proactive, adapt to changing site conditions, and develop plans to prevent issues. After listening to all of the projects Jason manages within the region, Ryan was curious as to how Jason was able to implement frameworks for environmental compliance plans.

Construction Phase Compliance: “Every project has all environmental aspects”

There is repetition of environmental issues within the construction industry. Jason gave the example: “Every project has all environmental aspects. Maybe you don’t have threatened species on a site, but there will be biological resources, and air quality – and  you will have those on every project.”

Having a team that can assess the risk on every one of those projects is critical. Jason’s ability to create program development stems from experience in the industry and having a good team. Problems vary widely for each project, and while there will always be some repetition on environmental issues, it would only be possible to establish a framework with the right people on the team. 

Finding the Dream Team

Very similar to what we recently heard in an interview with Dianne Dejosvay, Environmental Manager from 3M, Jason and Ryan discussed the importance of building a diverse team of specialists. Within the construction industry, Jason mentioned, it would be helpful to have a group with expertise in cultural resources, hazardous materials, wildlife conservation.

Certain environmental issues, like stormwater, are central to construction – so working with scientists who “have a good foundation” in water quality, conservation, or biology is critical to job-site success. Environmental issues overlap in the construction industry, and there is a lot of crossover – which further emphasizes the importance of having a diverse team! Through Jason’s experience with his own career and the people he manages, he spoke of the opportunities to move laterally.

Construction companies are always on the lookout for environmental inspectors, specialists, and coordinators who are eager to dive into interdisciplinary problem solving.   

How has environmental management evolved in construction?

Environmental management works in tandem with construction. Jason emphasized the importance of navigating environmental issues while balancing it with construction deadlines – and fortunately, the construction industry has evolved to recognize the importance of environmental management within a project as insurance and quality control. Therefore, Jason receives the support he needs.  The caliber of your environmental compliance program can win you a job as a contractor.

Because environmental management has such a large role in the construction industry, it is often that when a company wins a bid, the environmental team will start writing the plan the next day in order to be prepared. There will always be unknown challenges when entering the job site, so it is crucial to have those specialists on-site to dig into the important details and respond accordingly.

As the Environmental Manager for the Western Region, Jason’s responsibility is part of why he enjoys his job: “Ultimately it is your decision on how you will respond and how you will proceed.”  

To watch our full interview with Jason, check out the video below:



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