How to choose an Environmental Consultant
An environmental consultant is a consultant that maintains an appropriate measure of compliance with environmental regulations. A knowledgeable consultant will assist you in defining the problem and developing results that are cost effective, protective, and in compliance with environmental regulations. Consultants specialize in several areas such as testing and sampling, permitting, construction, engineering and design, abatement, waste management, cleanup and due diligence. Track records, skills and experience of consultants differ greatly. Employing a qualified and appropriate company is vital in developing solutions.
Environmental consultants will often subcontract with laboratories, manufacturers, environmental contractors, and law firms based on your project requirements. Usually, you will require an environmental consultant to make sure that all of your needs are managed by one company. In certain cases, you many only require one service that permits you to directly employ a contractor.
Following are detailed steps on how to hire an environmental consultant, right from the beginning to the final step.
Before you begin to choose Environmental Consultant
Understanding your responsibilities
It is imperative to remember that when you employ the services of a company to assist you in meeting your environmental obligations, you ultimately remain solely responsible for compliance with those obligations and can’t entirely allocate those obligations to the company. You should consider requiring the company you employ to protect you for its omissions and errors. Also, ensure that they have sufficient insurance to cover omissions and errors.
You should ask the employed company for a Statement of Qualifications (SOQ). An SOQ is a written document where the company lists out all of their professional qualifications that are required to do your type of work. The SOQ will consist of the credentials of all employees who are employed in the company. It’s essential that you ask the potential company about which employees are going to work for your project. Also, these employees should be qualified enough to handle the kind of work they will be doing for you. Ensure that the SOQ contains detailed examples of experience in all of the relevant areas of concern.
The beginning of start search
Defining the scope of work
Generate a list of the services that you will be requiring the prospective companies to provide. Provide them with as much information as possible, this will allow all of the prospective companies to provide you with accurate estimates (time and cost) for concluding the project. You may have information that will help meet your environmental needs which will save money and time and possibly eradicate omissions and errors when the work has concluded.
Framework the scope of work, as properly as you can, this will describe what needs to be done during the project, as well as the desired result of the work. Having a decent understanding of the situation and what needs to be done will help in deciding and selecting the best company for your project. If in doubt about the requirements and what needs to be done, get assistance. Always keep in mind that almost all of the environmental investigations encounter unforeseen situations and brand new information will be required that may change the framework entirely.
Once you have shortlisted the potential list of companies, you should be prepared to ask questions about their scope of services, area of expertise, and qualifications.
A Request for Proposals (RFP) should be sent to those companies that are qualified. Make sure you send RFPs to more than five companies, but do not exceed 10, there is no specified rule, but everyone follows this unofficial protocol. Your target is to receive at least three comparable proposals back for the work that needs to be done.
When you’re reviewing the proposals keep in mind the following things –
- How did the company fare in previous projects that were similar to yours?
- Is the company knowledgeable about local, state and federal environmental policies and laws?
- Is the company insured and bonded?
- Has the company ever been involved in lawsuits?
- How well does the company communicate in writing?
After you have shortlisted potential companies, you may conduct an interview session with them to clarify any items in their proposals and also meet those individuals who will be working with you as Environmental Consulting Firms.
The most important part of the employing process is checking references. Before finalizing any company, it is vital to talk to other businesses the company cites as references.
Make the selection
The Company’s submitted proposal, the reference checks and the interviews will provide you with the required knowledge that you will need to finalize on the one that’s right for you. When selecting your company, don’t make the mistake of jumping on to the lowest bidder. Make sure that you review all the terms and conditions of your references from the company, contract, and the SOQ. Always be 100% sure that you know what you’re buying.
This is to avoid any unnecessary and avoidable misunderstandings, it is generally a good idea to establish a documented and legally enforceable contract with the company you employ as Environmental Consultant. You must always enlist the assistance of a competent attorney before entering into any legal formalities.