Marc Trudell, a professional engineer and designated EP© Compliance Environmental Auditor (EP(CEA)), is nearing retirement after an illustrious 40+ year career. Currently serving as Vice President of Corporate Development with Englobe, one of Canada’s premier environmental engineering firms, he is also one of the founding members of ECO Canada’s EP Auditor program.
“It was the late 1980s and early 90s, and there were about a dozen individuals who collectively got together and viewed that there was a need for some level of governance, accreditation, a body of knowledge, to define the subject matter of environmental auditing.”
During that time period, government regulation and legislation regarding the mitigation of environmental impacts and environmental issues in general increased dramatically. Fed by a public keenly aware of issues such as air and water pollution, deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction, this group realized that simple environmental site assessments, which were common at the time, wouldn’t suffice to secure project approvals or project financing.
“Our group was loosely called the ‘Environmental Auditing Association’, for which there was one in the U.S. A few months later, it became the ‘Canadian Environmental Auditing Association’, and over time, it’s responsibilities regarding accreditation and the setting of professional standards transitioned over to the Standards Council of Canada, and in turn, as an accreditation agency, over to ECO Canada.”
While this evolution was driven organically by the needs and requirements of Canadian industry, Mr. Trudell admits that its inception was, “very grassroots.”
Today, ECO Canada’s EP Auditor program has continued to evolve to meet the needs of Canada’s industrial stakeholders. The program has certified 195 individuals to date, and now offers two distinct designations. The EP Compliance Environmental Auditor (EP(CEA)) recognizes leaders in the areas of CSA Z773 and ISO 19011 compliance, while the EP Environmental Management Systems Lead Auditor designation recognizes experts in the auditing organizations against ISO 14001 standards, or audits against Sustainable Forestry Management standards.
These two designations are recognized by Canadian employers, government, and financial institutions as the gold standard for environmental compliance and reporting. As Mr. Trudell describes, having the knowledge and expertise of an EP Auditor on a project team will be critical not only for securing RFP wins, but more importantly, to position an organization to capitalize on and be a leader in the emerging Canadian green recovery.
“Corporations, whether large, mid or small cap, are keenly aware of the term ‘ESG investing’, which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. The regulatory and social environment necessitates that these corporations step up to the plate with regards to ESG, because the E of ESG is taking on, with every year that goes by, a greater degree of relevance.”
It is in this regard that EP Auditors play a critical role.
“If these corporations are trying to secure third party financing, whether that’s from a bank, a private lender, or government program, they need to prove that they walk the walk and talk the talk on environmental commitment.” Mr. Trudell explains. “That’s where the skillset of an EP Auditor comes in. We can formally and concretely validate what you say.”
Over the course of his stellar career, Mr. Trudell has done just that. But while he cherishes the professional impacts he’s made as an EP Auditor, it’s mentoring the next generation of Canada’s environmental professionals that he finds most rewarding.
“The most fulfilling aspect of my role is the opportunity to provide guidance to individuals who are starting off their career. They look at this massive realm of the environmental sector and are overwhelmed its scale and scope, and how it touches every corner of the Canadian economy.”
The advice Mr. Trudell consistently offers to new practitioners is simple, yet profound.
“Keep it loose. Keep it general. Don’t be in a rush to zoom in and specialize. Acquire as much knowledge in as many sectors as you can. Industry sectors if possible, like forestry, mining, agriculture, and even commercial, industrial and manufacturing. Because one day, particularly if you want to become an auditor or find yourself in consulting, one day you might be auditing a mining operation, and the next day a forestry project, or the construction of a manufacturing facility.”
As he reflects on his career and the evolution of the EP Auditor program, Mr. Trudell credits ECO Canada for being stewards of the environmental workforce, and for leading the way in addressing a critical need in the Canadian economy.
“There used to be a void in the Canadian environmental workforce when it came to recognizing experts who evaluate and demonstrate a project’s viability and environmental sustainability. If you graduated as a professional engineer, you were recognized and licensed by statute in your respective Province, for example. But back then, if you came from an academic background, like biology, or forestry, you weren’t captured or recognized by another licensing body.”
This void created a situation where leaders in the environmental field were simply not recognized for the powerful impacts they made on Canadian industry.