SoundEarth Strategies Builds a Relationship with Red Barn Engineering

At SoundEarth Strategies, Inc. (SoundEarth), we see the value in building relationships with our clients, attorneys, the regulatory community, and other consultants in order to tackle the multifaceted environmental problems we deal with on a daily basis. We seek out relationships that are mutually beneficial to all the stakeholders that will help forge creative solutions to today’s environmental challenges. 

SoundEarth has forged a relationship with Red Barn Engineering to provide our clients with civil engineering services, permitting, and natural resources services. Red Barn complements and enhances these existing services that SoundEarth offers and adds a level of sophistication beyond what we currently can provide within those services. Our firms teamed together on some recent projects, including a stream restoration project in Kirkland, WA, and a project that necessitated the evaluation and permitting of a residential stormwater infiltration facility in Woodway, WA. Red Barn also advises SoundEarth on an off-channel stream restoration monitoring program in Bothell, Washington. These days, there is a hotline between SoundEarth and Red Barn where ideas, technology, and a joint vision for the future of both companies are shared. 

If you have any questions about this partnership or how our firm can help you reach your environmental goals, please don’t hesitate in contacting us

Employee Spotlight: Will Hafner

Will Hafner, Senior Project Manager at SoundEarth Strategies, helps improve the environments in which we live and work by assisting clients in addressing contaminated sediment issues and obtaining and evaluating data relative to their regulatory objectives. In graduate school, he studied the atmospheric fate and transport of persistent organic contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Will continues to use the technical skills he learned as a consultant with a focus on contaminated sediments, including sampling and analytical methods and understanding statistical techniques for evaluating patterns in the data.

“I’ve partnered with a range of clients in my career, including regulatory agencies like the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and private clients. Much of my work over the last several years has been supporting private clients in the cost allocation process for Superfund sites.”

Will has been providing expert support at the Portland Harbor Superfund site. Portland Harbor is considered one of Superfund’s “mega-sites” with nearly 100 potentially responsible parties. He supports clients in evaluating their data and operational history relative to nearby parties, culminating in an expert report due later this year.

Recently, Will has been part of a concerted push within SoundEarth Strategies to expand our client base through targeted business development and large proposal efforts. “I enjoy the strategy of working on proposals and working with our team to continually improve our products,” he shared. Outside of work, Will enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoor activities with his family.

Have questions regarding contaminated sediment and data management support? You can reach Will by emailing


Supporting Liability Arguments with Environmental Forensics

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The evaluation of a contaminated site under both the state and federal regulatory frameworks involves sample collection, laboratory analysis, and comparison of results against relevant criteria. Remediation is required for areas of the site that exceed these criteria. This process is costly, often resulting in mediation over the allocation of remedial costs or litigation related to cost recovery. Strong liability arguments are needed to define and support your (or your client’s) share of costs. Environmental forensic methods are a powerful tool that can be used to support these arguments.

Environmental Forensic Methods

Environmental forensics is a blanket term used for a wide variety of statistical methods conducted with the intent of differentiating sources of environmental contamination. These methods can be used to help reveal the potential sources (and likely parties) responsible for contamination at your site. Examples of these forensic techniques include:

  • Chromatogram Fingerprinting: The organic compounds present in petroleum products can be vaporized and separated using gas chromatography. The most volatile compounds are detected first, followed by the less volatile constituents. The pattern of compounds detected in a sample is a chromatogram, which serves as a fingerprint that can be used to differentiate various petroleum products, distillates including diesel and fuel oils, as well as the degree of weathering. These techniques are primarily qualitative in nature and can be used to distinguish hydrocarbons in co-mingled plumes and to determine the age of a hydrocarbon plume via weathering products. Figure 1 is an example of chromatograms associated with gasoline and diesel, highlighting the differing hydrocarbon constituents of these two fuels.
  • Alkylated PAH Analysis: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination is a common element of upland and sediment sites. Regulatory agencies rely on the analysis of a narrow subset of PAH compounds for criteria comparisons. The analysis of additional alkylated PAH compounds can help to determine the source material as alkylated PAH are more common in petroleum (petrogenic) based sources and less prevalent in combustion (pyrogenic) based sources. In addition, ratios of PAH compound pairs can serve as diagnostic indicators to aid in differentiating common PAH containing materials like creosote, manufactured gas plant tars, and urban background-based contamination.
  • Chemometric Methods:  Chemometric analysis is a statistical approach to the interpretation of patterns in complex data sets (pattern recognition). Chemometric methods include commonly referenced techniques like principal components analysis (PCA) but also more comprehensive unmixing models that can be used to qualitatively identify unique chemical signatures present in a data set and to quantify the amount these signatures contribute to each sample. Chemometric methods can be applied to any chemical data but are commonly used with polychlorinated biphenyl congeners (PCBs) and dioxin/furan congeners.

SoundEarth Strategies and the Use of Forensic Methods

As noted, regulatory guidance is intended to define and delineate the extent of remediation. It is not intended to help determine liability. As a result, data collected under the remedial investigation process is often insufficient for analysis using the above techniques. Dr. Hafner and Mr. Cammarata have successfully used forensic methods at a variety of sites. In addition, they have experience preparing effective study designs that meet regulatory requirements while also achieving the data quality objectives required for forensic analysis. Planning ahead in this manner can avoid the significant expense of resampling.

Forensic methods are a powerful tool for getting more out of your chemical data. Findings from these methods should always be supplemented with thorough historical research of your site. Connecting a chemical source signature identified via forensics with historical records of product usage provides an additional line of evidence. Please contact Dr. Hafner or Mr. Cammarata to discuss how we can support a forensic and historical investigation of your contaminated site.

Figure 1. Chromatographic “fingerprint” for a) gasoline and b) diesel range hydrocarbons.

EHSI Offers COVID-Related Industrial Hygiene Services

EHS-International, Inc. (EHSI), a subsidiary of SoundEarth Strategies, assists clients to design a “Readiness Strategy” or develop a “Safe Return Plan” in the context of COVID-19. EHSI’s Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) and Certified Safety Professionals (CSPs) provide COVID-19 consulting and project management services to prevent and control COVID-19 infections in workplaces and schools. EHSI services are derived in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. 

Reopening a building? 

Prolonged periods of building inactivity or reduced operation of a building and reductions in water use and distribution can create other hazards during the reopening of your facilities. These hazards may include mold and legionella bacteria due to water stagnation in water pipes as well as lead and copper contamination from corroded plumbing. EHSI conducts assessments for mold and moisture intrusion issues and testing for Legionella bacteria, lead, and other contaminants in water distribution lines before reopening of your facilities.

Making heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) adjustments for COVID-19? 

Many companies and schools plan to enhance their HVAC system or supplement the HVAC system with disinfection technologies to improve air quality and to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. EHSI provides technical support and conducts Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) assessments and other relevant tests before and after HVAC enhancement or installation of technologies to ensure the effectiveness of the controls.

COVID-19 Related Services EHSI Offers

  1. Development of Health and Safety Plan/Job Hazard Analysis, including ventilation systems, personal protection, furniture placement and other administrative/management controls

  2. Review of your documented cleaning and disinfection procedures or review/validation of cleaning/disinfection protocols submitted by cleaning contractors 

  3. Validation of cleaning agents according to the EPA-approved and registered products lists

  4. Chemical exposure monitoring for workers conducting cleaning and disinfection tasks 

  5. Health risk assessment for COVID-19

  6. Technical support to your risk management experts in developing infection prevention and control strategies 

  7. Protocol development and training for COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection methods and technologies

  8. Post-cleaning validation inspections 

  9. Environmental surface (swab) sampling from frequently touched surfaces and facilitation of laboratory analysis 

  10. COVID-19 air sampling and facilitation of laboratory analysis 

  11. Construction COVID-19 program review and site audits

Have you started putting together a readiness strategy for your business? Amidst all the uncertainty that COVID-19 has bestowed upon us, there is one thing we know for sure: safety is a top priority. With the reopening of a building, making HVAC adjustments, and other commercial reentry needs, decisions must be made with safety protocols in mind. EHSI is prepared and eager to help your organization transition safely back into the office. If you’re ready to get started or have any questions, feel free to contact us

SoundEarth Completes Its Leadership Transition

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SoundEarth Completes Its Leadership Transition

SEATTLE, May 15, 2020 SoundEarth Strategies, Inc., an environmental consultancy and parent company of EHS-International (EHSI), headquartered in Seattle, WA, recently completed its senior leadership transition with the hiring of Nimish “Nim” Desai as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Desai joins Brian Hebert, Chief Financial Officer, and Sarah Bice, Human Resources Manager, who joined the firm’s management team following staff retirements in late 2019.Nimish Desai web color

Mr. Desai has over 20 years of experience integrating business, engineering, technology and policy strategies to address environmental challenges nationwide. After leading environmental practices on both coasts, Nim spent 10 years in Seattle as Vice President of EA Engineering, Science and Technology, Inc., leading operations in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam. In 2016, following an ESOP exit, Mr. Desai extended his environmental policy efforts working in support of several political campaigns before founding Downticket Inc. to increase engagement in U.S. elections nationwide. In 2019, Nim merged Downticket with Politiscope Inc., further extending political engagement and empowerment nationally prior to his return to the consulting community as CEO of SoundEarth. 

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with the professionals at SoundEarth and EHSI. I was fortunate to have been mentored and supported throughout my career by amazing leaders with a genuine professional interest and curiosity in finding smarter ways to manage and solve big problems,” said Desai. “I see that same talent and energy in the staff here, particularly as we navigate the evolving business requirements and issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. That presents unique challenges but also opportunities to integrate some of the agility and entrepreneurship of the tech world with the management rigor of the consulting community.”

As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s dual-degree Management & Technology Program, Nim received a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BAS in Environmental Systems. His graduate work includes an MS in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and an MBA from the University of Washington.

Nim joins Brian Hebert who accepted the position of Chief Financial Officer in November 2019. Mr. Hebert has over 12 years of experience in financial management, accounting, auditing, financial planning and analysis, system implementation, risk management, operations, and process improvement.  His career has been focused primarily on professional services industries at Fortune 500 companies, mid-sized privately held corporations, and the federal government. 

“I am excited to be a part of SoundEarth’s leadership team and leading its finance organization in contributing to SoundEarth’s future success as the firm progresses to the next phase of its strategy,” said Hebert. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University where he double majored in Accounting and Finance. 

Ms. Sarah Bice also joined SoundEarth in November 2019 as Human Resources Manager. Ms. Bice brings 7 years of HR experience to SoundEarth and is a trusted advisor, connecting with all levels of the organization. Sarah completed two Bachelor of Arts degrees at the University of California Santa Barbara in Film Studies and Environmental Studies. She also completed the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Blue Horizon’s program focused on environmental documentary filmmaking. Her first job after college was at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC, an experience that fueled her passion for communicating science through new technologies and reminding visitors of our ability as humans to join forces across global and political lines to enact positive science-based change for the world we live in.

She recalls John Muir as a hero of hers, having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and frequently thinks his quote about the trees of Muir Woods exemplifies her calling to this industry, “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul”. Thinking this way reminds her of the powerful benefits of spending time outdoors and makes her feel committed to our company knowing the work we do helps preserve the health of these outdoor spaces, and in turn, the health of the flora, fauna and humans that inhabit them.

For more information regarding SoundEarth and EHSI, please visit and