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The Environmental Consultant

Free Permitting Checklist

Practical Tips to Avoid Environmental Risk on all Your Projects

Download our environmental permitting checklist to get a step-by-step list of ways to protect your project from the 9 most common environmental risks.

Download Your Checklist
Environmental Consultant

What is an Environmental Consultant?

Environmental consultants are typically scientists who are environmental compliance experts trained to help developers navigate the environmental due diligence process and detect project risks. These professionals have technical and scientific experience and are educated in environmental policy to aid in the proper implementation of and compliance with environmental regulations. They have an environmental science background, allowing them to provide developers with appropriate risk analysis environmental solutions for their projects.

What Do Environmental Consultants Do?

Environmental consulting entails both desk-based and fieldwork. They follow industry and scientific standards to detect impacts on sensitive natural resources on a project site. Required assessments and actions can vary depending on the job type.

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)

These assessments are performed in the more advanced stages of a project to determine if the development will yield significant environmental impacts and whether permitting and associated mitigation may be required. Consultants perform research and document their assessments for their clients. EIAs predict, identify, and evaluate a project’s impacts on natural resources. These documents are crucial during the decision-making process of a project.

Wetland Delineation

Another common study an environmental consultant will perform is a wetland delineation. Wetland delineation is the fieldwork that determines the boundary between uplands and wetlands on a property. This on-site work follows guidelines established by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and is required for permitting purposes.

Critical Issues Analysis

Consultants perform a Critical Issues Analysis (CIA) for project sites during the early planning process. A CIA is a significant part of renewable energy development and is used to assess and reduce environmental risks. This document may also be referred to as a Feasibility Study, Environmental Desktop Report, or Fatal Flaw Analysis. This analysis can take weeks to months to receive from the consultant.

Habitat Assessments 

Consultants will commonly perform habitat assessments to see if there are any threats on a project site to a protected species. This assessment is sometimes called a habitat evaluation and is conducted according to standards defined by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and professional scientific conduct.

Floodplain Analysis

Environmental consultants and engineers will conduct a floodplain analysis to determine a floodplain's boundaries regarding its present condition and the proposed condition in which potential new construction could disrupt the current floodplain boundaries. Disruption of a     floodplain by development can significantly impact environmental health and safety, so properly executing this study is crucial.

Environmental Consulting

Where Do Environmental Consultants Work?

An Environmental Consulting Firm

Environmental consulting firms can be large (100s of people) to small (just a few people) organizations with diverse expertise. These firms complete the environmental research, reporting, and guidance for other businesses (their clients). These shops charge per project for consulting services, meaning they bill hourly for each person working on a project, which can have a high cost.

In-House

Larger companies that are in the business of land development may have an environmental team that works “in-house”. The in-house environmental team may comprise a few professionals or a very large team of specialists. Larger in-house environmental teams take the place of a consulting firm, while smaller teams may work alongside environmental consultants who supplement the smaller teams’ talent.

How Do Consultants Use Transect?

Consultants can use Transect to streamline and expedite their reporting processes. Visit our consulting information site to learn more. 

Free Permitting Checklist

Practical Tips to Avoid Environmental Risk on all Your Projects

Download our environmental permitting checklist to get a step-by-step list of ways to protect your project from the 9 most common environmental risks.

Download Your Checklist

What Schooling or Technical Expertise Do Environmental Consultants Need?

Environmental consultants have degrees in a variety of fields, typically in hard sciences, environmental studies, or sustainability. Some consultants have general environmental science degrees, while others may have more specialized traditional natural and physical science degrees such as geology, ecology, hydrology, or forestry. The consulting field requires extensive knowledge and precise work, so 4- year technical degrees such as these are necessary to enter this field. Consultants may receive additional training and certifications throughout their careers.

Environmental Consultant

When Do I Need to Hire a Consultant?

Environmental consultants are hired anytime a project may impact the environment and could require environmental remediation and/or permitting. Environmental impacts can occur when breaking ground on a new real estate development or plotting a new pipeline. Consultants should also be hired after land developers know their environmental risks and need help navigating the environmental permitting process.

Automated Environmental Consulting

An alternative to the traditional consulting route is automated environmental consulting. Environmental due diligence software, such as Transect, generates site-specific reports and maps highlighting the environmental red flags and permitting requirements for a project. This software uses extensive data, and reports are fact-checked by former environmental consultants yielding years of experience. Automated environmental consulting allows developers to see risks on potential project sites quickly, eliminate land parcels with significant risk, and avoid costly mitigation fees from unforeseen environmental impacts. As part of their project management process, land developers can download this information as a PDF to share with stakeholders, their environmental engineering team, and other project team members to inform everyone about their project risks. In many cases, land developers don’t need environmental services from a geologist, hydrologist, or other types of environmental scientists to get the information they need.

Free Permitting Checklist

Practical Tips to Avoid Environmental Risk on all Your Projects

Download our environmental permitting checklist to get a step-by-step list of ways to protect your project from the 9 most common environmental risks.

Download Your Checklist