What Role Do Environmental Consultants Play in a Building Project and Why Do We Need Them?

The role of environmental consultants in building projects is both fundamental and essential, especially when dealing with a site that may be potentially contaminated. Environmental consultancy is a means of providing advice and strategies that ensure engineers, architects and construction companies working on the building project meet all compliance regulations and also protect the safety of their workers as well as keep the clients liability minimized.

A common function of an environmental consultant is to provide site assessments that analyze the means of meeting regulations in everything from waste management and carbon foot printing to land remediation and the benefits of renewable energy. As such, environmental consultants often specialize in a particular field.

They are not simply environmentalists there to advise on sustainability, but also provide surveys of foundation design and the geology of a site, determining things like slope stability and flood risk.

Environmental Site Assessment

As a part of compliance analysis, environmental consultants are employed to conduct surveys that determine pre-existing or potential environmental liabilities. These assessments will determine if any remediation is necessary to satisfy the conditions of environmental safety laws. Organizations responsible for contamination have sole responsibility for land remediation under the law.

An environmental site assessment is important, particularly in the field of commercial property development, as a lack of potential liability will eliminate the need for further assessments. Actual testing of soils, air and building materials will not occur unless a potential contamination is identified.

Purchase of property, buyouts, applying for a loan based on property as capital asset and applications for land use permits usually require some type of environmental assessment. Under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the Ministry of Labour requires that a designated substance assessment is performed on all projects before they commence.

Design and Environmental Consultancy

An environmental consultant may also make recommendations that will make your building project more environmentally friendly. Profiting from a greener approach can only be a good thing. It not only saves costs, increasing efficiency and reducing energy consumption, but also enhances corporate image and brand value.

Environmental consultants are also often employed by architects to create action plans for green infrastructure, taking into account not just environmental but also economic and social impacts. They will provide more than assessments, furnishing companies with graphic designs, design proposals, and contract administration. Land stewardship and ecology are a natural extension of surveys and assessments that determine soil contamination and the presence of potentially hazardous substances, and this is one of the reasons that the term “Environmental Consultant” is so broad.

Choosing a Consultant 

Environmental consultancy is big business, and big business means competition. In order to find a reliable environmental consultant or consultancy firm, you will need to ask yourself some questions, the most obvious of which is simply: is the consultant qualified?'

Aside from experience and an appropriate education, it’s recommended that consultants are members of an institute or other professional body. In this way, the client can feel confident that the consultant meets the required standards, and that they are up-to-date with the latest innovations and developments. In Ontario, many of the top environmental consultants and contracting companies who are involved in the site remediation process are members of the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario. (EACO)

For more information on the environmental services FERRO offers or to get started on your project, contact us at 1-877-429-7760.

3 Responses

  1. What does a site that may be potentially contaminated means? So basically, the role of an environment consultant is as vital as the role of an engineer or an architect in a project. An environmental consultant sounds like a tough job so i guess it requires certification and licensure?
  2. So basically they are the ones responsible for helping engineers and architects find a suitable place for building their projects? They help the engineers to know if the place is potentially contaminated and help secure all the necessary requirements?
  3. This is a great source of reference on why environmental consultants play a major role in building a project. As mentioned above, they are the ones responsible for giving out recommendations that will make the project more environment-friendly. Their main objective is to always go for green.

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