The benefits for businesses of environmental consulting firms

| 13th April 2018
Sunset years ... power plant and Exxon Mobil oil refinery in Joliet, Illinois. Photo: Greg Wass via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).
Sunset years ... power plant and Exxon Mobil oil refinery in Joliet, Illinois. Photo: Greg Wass via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).
Businesses need to comply with an increasing number of environmental compliance rules with a move toward sustainability across the world. These companies may want to consider hiring environmental consulting firms in order to follow these rules, as well as determine and implement their own environmental initiatives, writes EMILY FOLK.

Working with an expert consulting firm can help you to manage and minimise environmental and workplace hazards related to indoor air quality, exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, silica, formaldehyde, paint vapors and welding fumes.

Businesses of all types and sizes have environmental issues to consider. We all rely on having a healthy planet, and as climate issues become more prominent in our lives, addressing them is more important than ever. There’s also a strong business case for sustainability initiatives.

Environmental issues are complex, however, so what if you don’t have the expertise or resources to address them yourself?

In this common situation, turning to an environmental consulting firm is often the right move. How could working with an environmental consultant benefit your business?

Stay compliant

As environmental problems worsen or more people call for change, businesses face more environmental compliance rules. These regulations, laws and ordinances can come from federal, state and local governments, regulatory bodies, industry groups and others and cover many different aspects of a business’s operations.

Keeping up with these requirements is time-consuming, and making a mistake can be costly. Avoid these problems by having an expert on your side who understands the legal requirements and how best to manage compliance.

An environmental compliance consultant can assess your operations for compliance issues and help you create a plan for reaching and maintaining compliance. They can also monitor changing requirements so you remain up to date.

To do this, they must track a wide range of sources of regulations, which can be a very time-consuming task. Consulting firm Red-On-Line says it monitors 700 international sources and analyses 1,100 legal texts every year.

Environmental targets

Consultants can also assist you in reaching voluntary environmental goals such as using more clean energy, using more recycled material or sourcing ingredients from sustainable farming operations.

These initiatives are becoming more common among businesses as customers increasingly seek out brands that prioritize sustainability.

Environmental consulting firms can help you to assess your current operations, create a plan to reach your goals, track your progress and manage environmental reporting, which helps you communicate your sustainability performance to your stakeholders.

Consultants can share their expertise on these issues with your company through training sessions. Environmental, health & safety and sustainability consulting firm Keramida, for example, offers training sessions on environmental reporting.

The company is a CDP Certified Silver Climate Change Education and Training Partner in the U.S. and a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Training Partner.

Health and safety

Projects that produce environmental concerns also often create concerns about health and safety. Working with an expert consulting firm can help you to manage and minimize environmental and workplace hazards related to indoor air quality, exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, silica, formaldehyde, paint vapors and welding fumes.

They can also support the development of plans for risk management and emergencies as well as compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

In addition to being crucial to employee well-being, improving the health and safety conditions of your workplace will improve worker satisfaction and productivity, process efficiency and prevent legal problems from arising.

Companies such as Handex Consulting and Remediation help their clients to assess, manage and remove environmental, health and safety risks at their worksites. In one such project, the company helped to clean up a gun range and training center that had become overloaded with lead from spent ammunition.

The remediation team cleared around two feet of soil and removed and recycled about 40,000 pounds of spent bullets from the Lithia, Florida site, which was owned by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Why consulting?

Working with a consulting company has numerous benefits over taking care of environmental concerns entirely on your own.

The professionals that work for these consulting firms already have the expertise needed to get the job done. This means they can complete related tasks much more efficiently, and with fewer mistakes, than your company could by itself.

If your staff were to learn the required skills themselves, it would take a substantial amount of their work time, as would actually completing the related tasks. Hiring an outside expert allows your company to focus instead on its core business activities and on growing the business.

You could hypothetically hire an employee to handle the environmental aspects of your business operations. While this is a valid route to take, working with a consultant does have some benefits over this option.

A consultant is more flexible than an employee. Rather than paying them for a set amount of hours, you can contract with them for specific projects, which helps you use your financial resources more efficiently. This kind of contract work is also easily scalable.

Consultants may also have more relevant experience than an employee. They may also work for a reputable firm and have relevant certifications, which makes it easy to gauge their aptitude.

Next time your company has a project related to environmental compliance, sustainability or health and safety, considering hiring a consultant. Working with a consultant can also help you to evaluate your current environmental performance and develop plans for how to improve it. Contracting with someone who is already an expert on these issues will help to achieve your targets more efficiently and with improved results.

This Author

Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks.