Let’s Talk About It – The Importance of Communications When Working With an Environmental Consultant


The key to any successful relationship is communication.This goes for marriages, friendships… and even the working relationship betweena client and their environmental consultant.

As a facility/plant manager, manufacturing manager or EH&S manager, effective communication should be at the core of everything you do.

A lack of communication can lead to many issues, including expensive mistakes and serious accidents. It can cause projects to fail or fall short or problems to go unrecognized.

Comprehensive, effective communication is especially important when working with an environmental consultant. Lack of communication can cause budget issues and even impact the success of your project. Here’s away forward that should bring favorable outcomes to both sides.

1. It starts with identifying the problem. Theclient and consultant must agree what the problem to be solved is. Only whenthat is defined should the project move forward. This allows the consultant tounderstand what the client wants and start to create a plan to deliver thedesired results. It also allows the consultant to identify potential issues theclient may not have identified.

For example, usually a consultant is brought in to address a very specific problem. Let’s say it’s potential contamination from a storage tank. Both sides should be clear on the scope of work involved.  Will the project include the removal and replacement of the subject tank, including any remediation, if needed; or will the project only address the removal of the subject tank?

Obviously, these are totally different levels of work, cost, and timeframe. Most likely the consultant could go either route, but what the client is expecting should be clear and not assumed.  In this example, if there are regulatory considerations that must be met, they need to be identified.

2.  The client must also provide any relevant information about the issue to the consultant in a timely manner. Past issues, site history, and similar information are part of this effort. This will save time and give the consultant an early insight into cost-effective approaches.

Again, this information should be provided at the beginning of the project before a final scope of services is agreed upon because receiving this information midway through the project could make all the work completed up until that point unnecessary or inadequate.

3.  Along with relevant information from the past, the client should also inform the consultant about what’s on the horizon at the facility. Is there construction ahead or capital improvements planned? Are changes in manufacturing processes being considered? These should be communicated because they could affect how the consultant’s work is implemented and completed.  Good back and forth communications will also make clear if any milestones or deadlines could impact that future planned work. In fact, if the current project takes potential future changes into account, these could aid the work in the future.

4.  Both sides should also be clear on how the environmental consultant’s solutions could impact the site from a regulatory standpoint. Even a seemingly insignificant change could require new permits or processes.

5.  In cases where a client is not clear on the problem, let alone the solution they are looking for, it is up to the consultant to help the client define it.

This should be addressed during the first phase of the project, a meeting where all the relevant details are shared, like features of the site (are there any wetlands, for example),stormwater management details, soil conditions, and the like. Having this discussion can bring up possible issues and solutions, too.

Let’s say a consultant is being brought in to investigate a part of the facility where a new building will be constructed. They should know all the details of how and when the building will be constructed, and what activities will be conducted in the new building because it will impact their assessment approach and activities.

For example, if the building will have equipment that requires deep foundations, the consultant must know that in order to investigate if the soil conditions will allow this.

6.  Communication is also critical for managing change. On a jobsite there are always conditions that weren’t expected or delays or other issues that pop up as the project progresses. If the lines of communication are open, all sides can collaborate to figure out the solution or how to adjust their work to address the problem.


7. As far as communication, it should extend into all areas. Internally, all the team members of the client’s company should be communicating about their area of expertise and responsibilities with regards to the project. Any subcontractors or other consultants, and everybody else involved should not just be kept in the loop but be part of the loop. That way, ne phase of the project won’t be hindering another phase.

Everybody should know what everybody else knows, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, what their goals are, and what their deadlines are.


Communication, early and often, is the key to success in all things. By sharing information, voicing concerns, having discussions as early as possible… problems can be solved that much sooner, or even identified ahead of time and avoided.

At Envision Environmental, Inc. we value communication. Without it, things can go sideways pretty quickly.

Communications is especially key during due diligence projects. This is where a client has asked us to investigate a site prior to areal estate transaction.

In these cases, it’s vital that a consultant understand the client’s plans for the site. Because the client’s development plans will influence the investigation that is done.

And by understanding the plans from the start, the consultant can also complete their work in a timelier manner and prevent the client from missing any due diligence deadlines. Speaking of which, the client should always keep the consultant in the loop about those milestones well before they occur, which could also include when the purchase and sale agreement must be signed, so they can work the milestones into their plans.

Please avoid making the critical mistake of revealing deadlines only when they are about to expire!

Whether deadlines or site history or future development plans, don’t keep it to yourself!  Share what you know with your consultant and any other stakeholders.

It’s all about communication that leads to the coordination and cooperation needed to get the job done right, on time, on budget, and in a safe manner.

At Envision Environmental, Inc., we’re standing by to help you with your next project. Let’s start by communicating…

You can contact me, Mark Roman, at 609-208-1885 or get in touch via e-mail at markroman@envisionenvironmental.com.

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