Virtual Environmental and Humanitarian Adviser Tool – (VEHA Tool) is a tool
to easily integrate environmental considerations in humanitarian response. Field Implementation guidances are useful for the design and execution of humanitarian activities in the field.

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VEHA - Field Implementation Guidance

Non-agricultural livelihoods
Diversifying livelihoods
Construction livelihoods

Construction livelihoods


Environmental factors causing/contributing to the needs and affecting the humanitarian activity

New building construction is an opportunity to reduce construction and supply chain waste, to ensure materials are environmentally sustainable and buildings are energy efficient (insulated, use natural heating and cooling), as well as an opportunity to reuse debris/crisis waste.

Gender, age, disability and HIV/AIDS implications

Ensure inclusion criteria in construction livelihoods. Women, people from ethnic minorities, and disabled people can all bring specific environmental knowledge and help identify and address access issues in sustainable ways.


Environmental impact categories

Air pollution
Soil pollution
Water pollution
Climate change
Loss of biodiversity and ecosystems
Natural Resource Depletion
Soil erosion
Noise pollution
Visual Intrusion
Cultural acceptance
Impact on wellbeing / mental health
Increased drought/flood

Summary of Impacts
Summary of potential environmental impacts

Vegetation stripping
Drainage and groundwater recharge reduction
Damage to ecosystems
Harm to aquatic and coastal ecosystems through aggregate dredging
Unsustainable use of natural resources
Greenhouse gas emissions
Soil erosion
Air, water, and soil pollution.

Impact detail
Detailed potential environmental impact information

Construction activities typically have significant impacts on the environment.

Land clearance can remove vegetation; change topography; alter drainage and groundwater recharge; harm ecosystems, lead to deforestation and unsustainable use of other natural resources; harm aquatic and coastal ecosystems through dredging for aggregate; release greenhouse gas emissions through manufacturing cement and transport of materials; cause soil erosion through vehicle movements and soil exposure to the elements; cause air, water and soil pollution from solid, liquid and hazardous waste.


Summary of environmental activities

Develop construction management plans to identify and reduce environmental impacts

Develop building operation, inspection and maintenance plans to reduce environmental impacts

Design buildings to reduce energy use, increase natural heating/cooling/ventilation/light/insulation.

Ensure facilities are designed for minimal environmental impact – water and electricity supply, sanitation, solid waste collection and management including recyling, composting, greywater re-use.

Apply Nature-based Solutions to construction activities wherever possible, particularly for infrastructure projects, and include disaster risk reduction measures.

Conduct training and/or demonstration projects in energy-efficient, sustainably constructed buildings (adhering to green building standards where possible)

Detailed guidance for implementing suggested environmental activities

Develop construction management plans to assess and mitigate environmental impacts including: sustainable construction materials selection, sourcing, and transport; identifying and reducing construction waste; safe use, handling, and storage of chemicals; reducing energy and water use; avoiding damage to vegetation, soil quality, flora, and fauna;

Construct energy-efficient buildings and apply to design and construction certifications such as the Green Building Council Label as a way to improve the solutions.

Support revisions to building codes/standards for energy efficiency and promote sustainable procurement, waste reduction, and recycling.

Design buildings with flexible spaces and infrastructural solutions to facilitate adaptation to new uses, reducing the necessity of larger-scale interventions or demolishing and constructing new buildings, which always has a greater environmental impact.

Address cultural and identity issues when designing new buildings, which may include traditional aesthetic and construction techniques.

Lessons Learnt
Lessons from past experiences

Agencies responding to cyclone Haiyan in the Philippines found that re-use of disaster waste and construction waste for rebuilding helped undo some of the environmental damage, reduced pollution, and reduced reconstruction costs.

Activity Measurement
Environmental indicators/monitoring examples

Number of construction projects using a construction management plan that assesses and mitigates environmental impacts.

Activity Status
Main Focus
Focus of suggested activities

Prevention of environmental damage

Mitigation of environmental damage

Resource implications (physical assets, time, effort)

Time and resources to assess construction processes and to work with contractors/constructors, suppliers, and markets to adapt.

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