When I started work as a mechanical engineer in the early 1970’s there was no such thing as environmental consultancy. In those days there was little attention to environmental issues; oil tanks were not bunded, hazardous wastes were dumped in landfills and pollution was common place. There was of course regulation, but it was all ‘stick’ and no ‘carrot’, that is, there were no best practice techniques talked about.
There were of course those who spoke out against the disregard of the environment. Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic Silent Spring, was perhaps the most influential book at the time. The people who spoke out were mainly scientists who were concerned about the effects of unregulated industry on the environment. However, there was little discussion on how to help industry, only what couldn’t be done. People knew that an oil spill was bad, but there was no advice on how to minimise the likelihood of spills. For example, the guidance for bunding oil storage tanks, CIRIA 163, was not published until 1997.
Slowly things began to improve with BS7750 being published in 1992, the template for ISO14001, the accepted standard for environmental control and improvement.
With the realisation that the industry needed help to manage their impacts on the environment, the role of the environmental consultant came to the fore. These environmental consultants were asked to advise the industry on how to minimise the risks of pollution, reduce their use of resources and manage processes better.
Due to the range of environmental topics, the multitude of environmental legislation and the now fast changing evolution of ‘best practice’ and technologies it was near impossible for an environmental consultant to master the necessary knowledge to advise industry on solutions. Knowing what not to do is relatively easy, knowing what to do about it is requires in depth knowledge and experience. Thus, environmental consultancy started to emerge in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.
Environmental Efficiency was founded in 1996. The rational for the creation of Environmental Efficiency was that, up until then, environmental consultancy businesses were managed and staffed by scientists. The scientist lead consultancies were good at knowing what the industry should do and the effects of poor environmental management, but in many cases had little knowledge of how to implement ‘best practice’ in an industrial situation.
The founders of Environmental Efficiency were two Chartered Engineers with extensive industrial experience (quarrying, mining, construction, steel fabrication, automotive, rail and electrical engineering). This enabled Environmental Efficiency to engage meaningfully with industry. The in-house team of environmental graduates, guided by engineers, provided the necessary solutions to the issues faced by industry. This meant that Environmental Efficiency could not only tell their clients what they couldn’t do, but more importantly what they should do and the most cost effective and practical manner of doing it.
Bob Sutcliffe, one of the founders of Environmental Efficiency, is a Chartered Engineer with a passion for promoting best practice to clients in a manner that is cost effective and practical. Environmental Efficiency has many examples of where their knowledge has help companies comply with legislation and at the same time reduce costs.