What is a Sustainability Consultant?


Developing sustainability initiatives in a company—both small and large—is a major commitment. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is now a specific field and industry with very technical subjects like green building, renewable energy, waste management, sustainable development etc.

Businesses going green can assign an internal person or a green team in the company to help with initiatives. These persons to date can range from department to department and have either vast or too little expertise in the subject of sustainability practices. Often these internal persons do not have the time, with their other responsibilities, or the expertise to launch and implement a full scale sustainability plan. More importantly, they may not have the expertise in culture change to really make sustainability long-lasting and self-sustaining in a company.

Sustainability consultants are hired advisors and experts to help companies and businesses become more socially and environmentally responsible in how they conduct business operations. They can go by the names of sustainable consultant, green consultant, eco consultant, or environmental management consultants. They help a company move forward with developing and implementing a plan to go green when the company just doesn't have the expertise or personnel to do it well. Consultants can be hired for short or long term projects and usually specializes in a particular area, industry, and type of company.

Sustainability consultants can offer a wide variety of services to improve sustainable business practices including:

  • Conduct company assessments for carbon, energy, water, waste, hazardous materials, environment impacts, etc.

  • Develop overall strategic sustainability plans

  • Provide plans on how to reduce vital resources including energy, water and oil

  • Provide plans on environmental management and compliance

  • Provide plans on waste reduction in company operations and manufacturing

  • Provide advice on green building design, construction and facility improvements

  • Provide options on packaging to minimize waste and reduce weight

  • Provide plans on communication and marketing strategy with PR and media campaigns and sustainability reporting

  • Provide guidance on sustainable purchasing practices

  • Install and implement measurement tools to monitor and report key data

  • Provide training and education on environment and sustainability topics

  • Provide implementation and project management support with sustainability initiatives

  • Provide plans to improve community involvement and volunteer programs

  • Assist with developing key relationships with non-profit organizations and other important stakeholders

  • Assist in corporate culture change to make companies self-sustaining

ISSP

To become part of the sustainability consulting network, join the International Society for Sustainability Professionals.


If you're thinking about hiring a sustainability consultant, ask these questions before hiring:

General Background

  • Tell me about your background prior to going into consulting?

  • Have you published any books or articles on sustainability?

  • What associations and organization’s is your company affiliated with?

  • Tell me about a recent client you have worked with. What type of services did you do for them? What were their results?

  • How do you keep up with the current trends, news, laws and regulations in the sustainability industry?

  • How long has your company been in business?

  • What type of clients do you usually work with?

Services

  • Tell me what type of services your company offers?

  • What is your company’s specialty in the field of sustainability?

  • Tell me about your process working with clients?

  • How long will it take for our company to be self-sufficient as a ‘green culture’?

  • What services do you provide to help us reach this self-sufficiency?

  • When your service is complete, what type of documentation or deliverable would our company receive?

Administration / Fees

  • What is your typical response time to emails and phone calls?

  • How do you charge for services?

  • What are you billing terms?

  • Do your fees include travel time and other miscellaneous charges or is that billed separately?

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