Five markets to watch: Environmental Consulting

If you thought environmental consulting was all about going green, think again. There are big contracts to be had in this industry. Here's how to get a piece of the action.

If you thought environmental consulting was all about helping businesses keep their energy costs down, think again. There are big contracts to be had in both the public and private sector that will have a lasting impact on the industry and the environment. Here’s a look at five markets to watch.

The United States currently has no offshore wind farms, but that doesn’t mean there isn't work in wind for environmental consultants. At least five states are currently planning to install wind farms off their coasts. This means massive opportunities for consultants, who are needed to conduct underwater surveys, assess the impact on marine life, measure the risk for migratory birds, and secure permits.

Stormwater is a major source of water pollution; it collects contaminants traveling through sewer systems before running off into rivers and creeks. Real estate companies, industrial facilities, and municipalities are increasingly looking to pretreat stormwater before it reaches freshwater, and need consultants to help with for site inspection, permitting, and system installation.

More regulations in the energy sector mean more opportunity. Consultants can help with things like pipeline permits, as oil and gas companies expand to non-traditional sources of energy. Also, companies need consultants to deal with EPA-mandated carbon reductions. The job consists of helping these businesses find an economical way to transition from oil to natural gas, develop methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and acquire permits to comply with the Clean Air Act and other regulations.

More and more public port authorities need environmental consultants to help revamp old ports, which have eroded after years of neglect. Most of these ports are so shallow, they are unable receive large ships and therefore unable to compete in a modern economy. Before the ports can be dredged, consultants are hired to survey the area, apply for permits, and plan how the excess material will be disposed of afterward.

Commercial real estate companies are actively renovating and upgrading their existing properties. When that happens, environmental consultants are critical, especially when it comes to older buildings, which are more likely to require special treatment of asbestos and lead-based paint. In new developments, consultants are needed to conduct mandatory environmental site assessments. Read more about the environmental consulting industry. --Issie Lapowsky

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