2021 was a busy year for SoundEarth Strategies, Inc. (SES) and EHS-International (EHSI), and our combined strength opened several opportunities in the public sector for both firms.
As we reflect on 2021 and look ahead to new opportunities, we surely will face new challenges (and certainly some continued ones!) in 2022. The new year is about looking forward to many of us; it has always been that way for me. Given how unusual and challenging the past few years have been, though, I feel it is important to look back and thank you for how well you have all responded. Thank you to our employees for continuing to solve problems and overcome the issues we face, regardless of whether they are project-related, administrative, or a result of COVID. There is no doubt that 2021 presented us with a great many challenges, and the pandemic that has affected much of our community continues to present new hurdles for us all. I am extremely proud that 100 percent of you have chosen to be vaccinated. Having received the vaccine and booster myself and then testing positive for what I assume is the omicron variant, I can report that I personally experienced little if any symptoms at all. I’ve heard the same from others around the company. Thank you for adhering to our COVID policies and for looking out for your co-workers (including me!) the way that you have. I also am extremely impressed with how you’ve continued to adapt and stay productive despite the continued shifts in working arrangements, masking requirements, site access issues, collaboration opportunities, and closures/re-openings/more closures throughout our communities. I’ve watched you achieve and exceed our goals despite the challenges we’ve faced, and your commitment to client service and that “get it done” mentality continues to amaze me.
Thank you to our clients for your continued business and trust in us. We know the pandemic has challenged you as well, yet we have continued to see projects pushed forward, new opportunities associated with your continued business interests, and strengthened relationships despite the limits to our in-person interactions. The last few months have been the busiest for us since the pandemic started, and we’re ready for more. As we continue to support more of your work, I assure you that your health and safety during these times will remain a priority, and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that your projects remain on schedule while safeguarding your employees, sites, and visitors.
With the change in the White House comes new priorities and new areas of focus. In the arena of federal environmental policy, Environmental Business Journal (EBJ) analyzes how these changes in priorities impact environmental markets. It is no secret that the Biden Administration ranked critical climate issues higher on the federal priority list than the former Trump Administration, and EBJ’s recent survey demonstrates the dichotomy between each administration’s approach to the environment. Among the Biden Administration’s top priorities are PFAS and other emerging contaminants, which were absent among the Trump Administration’s priorities. Per and Polyfluroalkyl Substance, or PFAS, represents a very large family of man-made chemicals which vary in their chemical and physical properties and pose a risk to human health and the environment. PFAS compounds are released to the environment through industrial processes, their use in consumer products, and firefighting foam.
According to SoundEarth Strategies’ Principal Geochemist Tom Cammarata, PFAS compounds are ubiquitous in the environment due to their solubility and resistance to degradation once released to the environment. Trace levels of PFAS have been identified globally in the environmental media.
Soundview Consultants LLC (SVC) has teamed up with SES. Currently, our team is working on a sediment project in Skagit County. This partnership combines the strength of SES's site and sediment quality investigations with SVC's land use planning specialty. SVC’s Scientists, Environmental Planners, Wetland Scientists, and Project Managers have extensive training and experience in site planning and design, project coordination, permitting, and management. Their services of focus include:Natural and Aquatic Resource Assessments, including wetland and ordinary high water delineations and site assessments;Environmental Planning, including documentation, code review, and mapping; * Land Use and Regulatory Compliance Services, including site planning to ensure land is being used properly; andAquatic Permitting, necessary for docks, boat ramps, bulkheads, and other shoreline projects requiring in-water work.
Say hello to Ryan Bixby! Ryan joined our team in 2005 and is currently one of the Managing Principals and Vice Presidents of the firm. He graduated from Whitman College with a degree in geology and has been working as an environmental consultant since 1998. He spent most of that time performing Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) in support of property transactions. Ryan is a recognized expert in environmental due diligence support for real estate transactions throughout the Pacific Northwest, and his expertise continues to be retained by the legal community and some of the most active developer and property portfolio clients in the region.
Ryan works closely with our clients to better understand their objectives and make sure the scope accomplishes those goals. “We help interpret the results of our investigations, develop our findings and conclusions, and perform the final review of all our deliverables,” he shared. For the past several years, much of his work has been focused on expert witness projects, something he finds fascinating. “I recently provided expert testimony in federal court, an exciting experience since most environmental cases are resolved before getting to court.”
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.
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."
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
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.
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.
When a client comes to me with a property they want to buy, sell, or redevelop, several questions come to mind. These questions generally fall into the categories of development, environmental, and regulatory. Over the years, I’ve compiled a standard list of questions, the answers to which help shape my strategy for assisting my client. These questions also help focus my client’s attention on myriad issues they may want to consider. Getting on the same page early about the scope and desired outcome of a project can foster a smooth and productive relationship.
What exactly are the visuals of a company?
The website, presenting company profiles, photos, and projects.
You’ve probably been through a Phase I with an environmental consultant before, and while it seems like a straightforward process, there are additional Business Environmental Risks (BER) that most property purchasers want to consider.
A BER is defined in ASTM 1527:13 as “a risk which can have a material environmental or environmentally-driven impact on the business associated with the current or planned use of commercial real estate.”
The Washington Air Regulations are up for public comment and updating. There are two opportunities to comment open right now but closing soon!
This rulemaking is of interest to:
SEATTLE, April 25, 2019— SoundEarth Strategies, Inc. (SoundEarth) has acquired EHS-International, Inc. (EHSI). Both companies offer environmental consulting and engineering services. The acquisition is the latest in SoundEarth’s execution of its growth strategy, focused on expansion into new markets through recruitment and acquisitions.
“Our firms really complement each other very nicely,” said Al Davis, CEO at SoundEarth. “Both companies have built success around providing excellent client service, and that will continue to be our top priority.
The EPA’s Office of Inspector General (IG) recently issued a management alert related to inaccuracies in EPA’s publicly-available toxic substance release data. The IG discovered discrepancies between EPA’s public data and the internal data that the agency submitted to the IG related to the total number of pounds of toxic chemicals released between 2013 and 2017.
EPA collects data on toxic substance releases in part through the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program, through which industrial facilities report on their emissions and releases of chemicals and other hazardous substances.
In April 2018, Washington State adopted a rule that further regulates employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS), following OSHA’s publication of a similar—but less stringent—rule in 2016. Washington’s rule went into effect for the construction industry in October 2018 and will go into effect for occupations outside of construction on July 1, 2019.
Many companies are familiar with OSHA’s version of these rules and the general issues surrounding employee exposure to RCS. But with tighter regulation looming in Washington, here’s what you should know.
Last Friday, SoundEarth hosted its first-ever South Sound Environmental Managers Forum in Tacoma. The idea behind this series of monthly events is to provide not only short, timely presentations on topics that affect environmental managers and their facilities, but also a place where they can share advice, ideas, concerns, and solutions with their peers away from the facility.
For our first round, we talked about Dangerous Waste and Community Right-to-Know Reporting. Here’s a peak at what we covered:
The American Society of Civil Engineers published a report identifying the top 5 cities for working in the civil engineering field, and Seattle made the cut! SoundEarth’s Elyssa Dixon was quoted saying “Being a civil engineer in Seattle means that I am surrounded and supported by people who also want to use their career to improve the world through innovative and sustainable solutions.”
Check out the full article here.
Click below to listen to Episode 2 of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) podcast Plot Points featuring SoundEarth's Elyssa Dixon, PE!