Responsibly sourced construction materials represent a holistic approach to managing construction materials from extraction through to final disposal. This means ensuring best practices are followed in siting, operation, rehabilitation, processing, use, re-use/recycling and final disposal.
SERA’s initial focus is developing a world-class certification system for responsibly sourced aggregates while considering how lessons learned in other jurisdictions may improve accountability and traceability in the supply chain for all construction materials. This will help ensure a reliable supply of aggregate materials while protecting Ontario’s natural landscape and supporting world-class operational practices.
The SERA Standards will satisfy consumer demand for responsibly sourced aggregate materials by certifying aggregate sites that:
- Provide a reliable long-term supply of aggregate materials, including a growing volume that will be socially and environmentally responsibly sourced;
- Protect our landscape’s most ecologically and hydrologically important natural areas;
- Meaningfully engage local communities and aboriginal groups before extraction begins and throughout the lifecycle of operations;
- Define time limits for extraction and phasing plan that incorporates communities’ interests;
- Offer government purchasers the ability to leverage their purchasing power and request responsibly sourced aggregate materials;
- Provide government regulators with a market-based tool that recognizes sites that have gone above and beyond regulatory requirements.
What will SERA certification mean for our natural environment?
The Draft SERA Standards significantly improve on current regulations and propose a world-class certification system for responsible aggregate extraction. The proposed SERA standards go further than existing regulations by offering:
1. Fixed term licenses:
- Under current licenses aggregate operations have no fixed end date, meaning they could continue operating forever. The Draft SERA Standards require aggregate operations to specify a defined period of time of extraction and/or a phasing plan that involves input from a Public Advisory Committee.
2. Commitment to efficient resource use:
- In the proposed standards aggregate operators who are SERA certified will commit to the efficient use and conservation of aggregates and other resources. This is achieved by using fewer materials, reusing materials and employing recycled content whenever possible, as well as pursuing optimal use of existing sites and transportation networks.
3. Best operational practices:
- The Draft SERA Standards establish new best-practices for the operation of aggregate sites. Included in these best-practices are mitigation of noise, protection of air quality (vehicle emissions and dust), safeguarding of water quality and quantity, and minimization of Green House Gas emissions and other pollutants.
4. Meaningful community engagement:
- The Draft SERA Standards require aggregate sites to undergo in-depth and meaningful consultation with local communities and other stakeholders by creating a Public Advisory Committee before aggregate extraction begins and lasting throughout the operation’s lifecycle.
5. Complete protection of huge natural areas:
- Under the proposed standards SERA will protect huge amounts of natural areas as “No Go” areas where no new aggregate sites can be certified. These areas protect over 784,000 hectares in Southern Ontario alone. In addition, the draft standards include “Maybe” and “Go Carefully” areas where special consideration must be given and specified requirements undertaken.
6. Net-gain results in huge increase of protected public spaces:
- The Draft SERA Standards require that when aggregate operations occupy areas of ecological and hydrological importance the features, functions and linkages are replaced at a higher ratio elsewhere on the site or offsite in the same ecological region. Temporal limits are also required. This major step forward will result in large new areas being turned over to public ownership.
What will SERA certification mean for aggregate operators?
The SERA Standards will 0ffer aggregate industry and the environmental community a tool to help resolve the long-standing conflicts that have been harmful to both sides. SERA certification will offer aggregate operators:
1. Improved processes:
- Under current regulatory processes the licensing of an aggregate operation is an extremely lengthy and expensive process with uncertain outcomes and poor long-term viability for the aggregate industry in Canada. The Draft SERA Standards offer municipalities and environmental groups a reliable tool for determining which aggregate sites meet or exceed best management practices. Having this tool at their disposal should help to reduce historically confrontational situations.
2. Improved community relations
- By establishing Public Advisory Committees before aggregate extraction begins, as proposed in the Draft SERA Standards, aggregate operators should be able to better understand and meet the needs of local communities from the beginning. Through this process, there should be reduced conflict between industry and community groups.
3. Clear direction to secure Ontario’s natural legacy
- The Draft SERA Standards propose an easy to follow framework and auditing process that will allow them to more easily demonstrate a site’s compliance with world class management practices.
4. The ability to satisfy purchaser needs
- SERA certification will offer purchasers access to a reliable and traceable source of responsibly extracted aggregate materials.
What will SERA certification mean for purchasers?
Aggregate purchasers will benefit from the ability to make smart procurement decisions that achieve environmental sustainability objectives. Since 1996, the public sector (municipalities and Ministry of Transportation) has made up over 40% of Ontario’s aggregate demand. The proposed SERA certification system will offer these purchasers the ability to leverage their market position and demand aggregate materials that are extracted in a manner consistent with public expectations related to sustainability.
What will SERA certification mean for municipalities?
The proposed SERA certification offers municipalities an additional tool for determining how specific aggregate sites meet social and environmental best practices. Municipalities will benefit from the knowledge that SERA certified sites meet or exceed the world-class standards that have been developed in cooperation with industry, community and environmental groups.
The Draft SERA Standards also propose that aggregate operators provide municipalities with resources appropriate to the scale of the operation, to ensure the ability to contribute to the footprint design process and lifecycle of the site.
The proposed SERA certification system will offer municipal purchasers the ability to leverage their strong market position and demand aggregate materials that are extracted in a manner consistent with public expectations related to sustainability.
What will SERA mean for First Nations communities
The establishment of SERA offers First Nations communities an opportunity to be meaningfully engaged in shaping both the governance of SERA and in developing and finalizing certification standards for socially and environmentally responsible aggregate that align with their interests and aspirations while respecting their evolving legal rights.