Environmental consultants play a vital but often overlooked role in construction projects.
The vast amount of blighted, underused industrial properties in the Greater Lehigh Valley offer rich opportunities for redevelopment but also require the skills of someone who understands the environmental factors that come into play.
By working with the state and federal government, these consultants know the regulations that need to be followed before construction can begin.
“You have to do environmental due diligence ahead of time, as early in the process as you can do it,” said Martin Friday, senior biologist with Rettew, an engineering firm headquartered in Lancaster, with an office in Allentown.
The impact of construction on natural resources at the site, such as wildlife, is integral to the research.
“You want to know about any species of concern, you want to check the project area to identify any aquatic areas that might be on site,” Friday said. “If you can’t avoid them, you have to get the proper permits.”
People recognize that activities from construction affect water quality and seem to recognize that more now, he said.
Key players are the economic development groups which can help firms meet proper environmental requirements before projects begin.
Through its land recycling initiative program, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. can help firms perform their due diligence by researching the site, which prevents unexpected costs, among other factors, said Colin McElvoy, director of communications for LVEDC.
“That’s why environmental consulting is so vital, because it helps identify those roadblocks, any potential challenges that could create delays or unexpected costs to a redevelopment project,” McElvoy said.