Sustainability consultants help business clients improve their organization’s environmental performance. Many of these professionals have a background in engineering or sciences, such as biology, chemistry or earth sciences. Most sustainability consultants work either on a team in an environmental consulting firm or alone as independent consultants. Companies rely on sustainability consultants for expert guidance on how to lower their carbon footprint, develop environmentally-friendly products, and comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards. Sustainability consultants play a central role in helping their clients meet their business objectives using an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable approach.
Imagine you are standing among the gently rolling hills of Ontario’s wine country, surrounded by the immaculate grapevine trellises of an award-winning winery. You are a sustainability analyst at a consulting and software design firm that develops software programs to help companies measure, monitor and report on their CO2 and other Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Your client is a forward-thinking winery that contracted your employer to determine their baseline carbon footprint and recommend effective strategies to reduce their carbon output.
During this visit to the winery, you will measure your client’s resource consumption and analyze these results using a series of unit conversion factors that will indicate their baseline carbon footprint. Back at the office, you will work with your team to develop a software program that the winery can use to track energy use and emissions. The new program will be a critical tool to help the winery achieve its Climate Smart carbon-neutral certification.
In the coming months, you will continue to work closely with the winery, providing recommendations on energy auditing, using bio-diesel in winery transport vehicles, and upgrading to energy-efficient equipment. As a sustainability consultant, you make a positive difference by helping your clients implement socially responsible and cost-effective changes that lower the environmental impact of their operations.
Job duties vary significantly from one position to the next, but in general, sustainability consultants are involved in the following job duties:
Sustainability consultants work in a variety of locations, including:
In the office:
In the field:
Most sustainability consultants work at consulting firms that operate in a niche field. As a result, sustainability consultants typically work for:
If you are a high school student considering a career as a sustainability consultant, you should have a strong interest in:
In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a sustainability specialist is a university undergraduate degree. Sustainability consultants are often hired by consulting firms upon graduation, so this is an especially ideal occupation for early career professionals. To demonstrate their professional credibility to prospective clients and employers, many sustainability consultants also hold post-graduate degrees, certificates or professional designations, such as ECO Canada’s Environmental Professional (EP) designation. If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as a sustainability consultant, the following programs are most applicable: