Choosing an Environmental Consultant

1.  Do I need to hire an environmental consultant?

The place to start is by understanding the reasons why you are undertaking an environmental investigation of a site and your legal obligations. You should have an idea of the scope of work you need the consultant to perform. If you are unsure if contamination is present, you may want to limit the scope of work to a preliminary investigation of the property, also known as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. If you already know that remediation is required, you might look for a consultant who can assist you in the entire process from investigation through remediation and verification.

2.  Selecting an environmental firm

Ask for referrals from your trade organization or professional association, other companies in your industry, your legal counsel, insurance firm, or mortgage lender. Once you have identified several recommended consultants, we recommend you request a written proposal from at least three. If environmental work at your property needs to be conducted under a DEEP Remediation Program, be sure the firm you hire has a Licensed Environmental Professional (LEP).

Every consultant that submits a proposal should provide you with the following information:

  • Recent experience with similar projects in Connecticut, including references from clients
  • Qualifications of personnel and subcontractors, including professional licensing and résumés describing training and experience
  • Organizational chart showing the responsibilities and lines of authority for project staff and subcontractors
  • Description of the work to be performed (including objectives, methods to be used, standard operating procedures, and description of the deliverable report)
  • Project schedule indicating the timeframe for each phase of work and any applicable DEEP regulatory deadline or review needed.
  • Clear explanation of what cost estimates cover and how additional expenses would be billed, including the firm’s fee schedule, costs for subcontractors and subcontractor management, and applicable DEEP fees

3. Interview at least two companies

The skills and experience of the individuals assigned to your project directly affect its success. Interview firms who have submitted clearly written, competitively-priced proposals that indicate a good understanding of your project and of your needs. Ask if the site manager who would work on your project can be at the interview. During your meeting, you can further discuss project details of the bulleted items mentioned above and ask questions, such as:

  • What does the consultant propose to do and why?
  • How does the consultant ensure the work and written reports are thorough, technically correct, and compliant with state and federal regulatory requirements and guidance?
  • What services do they offer that make them different or better than other consultants?
  • Are key people available to complete your project in a timely manner?

4. Review past performances and ALWAYS check references.

Contact at least two former clients and ask about the scope and nature of the services provided and their satisfaction with the work performed. Keep in mind, however, that even the best consultant cannot predict every site circumstance and project outcome. Good questions to ask the former client:

  • Was work completed in a timely manner?
  • Did the scope of work change significantly during the project? If so, why?
  • Were the final project costs in line with the original estimate?
  • Did the consultant work effectively with the client?
  • Did the work comply with regulatory requirements?
  • Was additional work required by DEEP (e.g., as the result of an audit)?

Before hiring an LEP, you may wish to check LEP Complaints and Disciplinary Actions to find out whether any disciplinary actions or complaints have been filed against a particular LEP.

Consider very carefully an estimate that is much lower than the others you receive. Consultants who underestimate project costs may ultimately cost more and create delays in project completion.

Last Updated September 8, 2022