By Writing Team
Posted in December 1, 2021
Ambipar’s Allan Blanchard has made a career of challenging stereotypes and the status quo — particularly when it comes to meaningful Sustainability practices.
“Everyone talks about sustainability,” he says. “Companies routinely tout their ‘green business policies’ to investors, but rarely ever get challenged to explain what those policies mean — or how they’re making a positive impact.” That’s the status quo he and his colleagues challenge every day, which they do while defying the stereotype of Consultants (you know the cliché: High-priced “experts” who tell you what you need to do, but not how, then hand you an enormous invoice with a friendly pat on the back).
In his opinion, there are two main parts to an organization’s commitment to sustainability. One, doing what is right from an environmental compliance perspective and two, reducing a businesses’ environmental footprint by adopting sustainable practices and reducing energy use.
“When we look at environmental risks, there are certain industries, such as petroleum and hazardous chemicals businesses, that have an inherent need to comply with a multitude of environmental regulations associated with their products. But it is not just those companies that have to manage environmental risks. Any company that uses or transports potentially hazardous materials is subject to environmental regulation and best management practices. Businesses that you would not associate with environmental risks are often subject to regulation. For example, most people would not think food manufacturers could have environmental issues. Raw materials from fuel to sanitizing chemicals are potentially subject to regulation. Materials as innocuous as sugar can become hazardous. Sugar can become explosive when airborne and subject to environmental permitting and simply discharging sugar to sanitary can potentially fowl public treatment systems and often requires extensive pretreatment and permitting.
When we look at reducing an organization’s environmental footprint, adopting practices such as recycling and waste minimization are important. However, the most significant impact can be realized when a business becomes more energy efficient. Energy efficiency improvements continue to pay off year after year.”
Blanchard’s Ambipar consultancy (which he founded in 1988) helps companies generate meaningful, measurable results that minimize their impact on the environment — offering actionable strategies for everything from Environmental Compliance and Remediation to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Alternatives. His client-base ranges from leading energy corporations and manufacturers to family-owned gas stations, hotel chains and ski resorts — and his staff of 20 includes experienced geologists, engineers and environmental scientists.
“While our first client was a national pipeline company, our largest client segment today is gas station owners — who regularly need help with regulatory compliance. In the event of a spill or leak from an underground storge tank system, we determine the impact, where those leaks are going, and how to clean them up. Over the last 10 years we’ve successfully obtained regulatory closure at over 450 petroleum-impacted sites — an accomplishment we are extremely proud of!”
Blanchard’s primary responsibility in most environmental consultations is helping companies understand and maintain compliance with all appropriate regulations. Toward that end, they offer a variety of specific services — including environmental compliance audits, site assessments and remedial investigations. What they uncover, and recommend, often means costly action for their clients. However, Blanchard notes, “The alternative — namely, ignoring the problem — is likely to be much costlier, in terms of fines, or even business shut-downs, for non-compliance.”
One of Blanchard’s popular consulting services is Energy Efficiency. His team recently helped several major hotel brands with their sustainability efforts, including Marriott, Hilton, Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt, achieve 10 – 20% in energy savings. One of the hotels was LEED certified, and the team still identified a 10% improvement.
“When our clients implement the improvements we recommend, we’re often called-on afterward to verify their energy-savings claims to the utilities to qualify them for rebates and tax incentives.” The long-term benefit to Blanchard’s energy-consulting services is, of course, that “once a client has made the investment that entitles them to rebates, they continue operating at the lower cost — so with each passing year, they’re saving even more money.”
“Our typical approach is to start with an assessment to determine no-cost operational changes, low-cost purchases, and more strategic investments. We put that into a strategy with the financial and other benefits, the actions and investments required — and the recommended priorities and timeframes.
“If we don’t show enough savings to exceed our fee, it’s free. Fortunately for us, and for our clients, that’s never happened. To date, our clients have saved over 144 million kWh, which equates to over $15.8 million in accumulated energy savings. We’ve also secured over $2.3 million in rebates, grants and other incentives to help pay for our clients’ energy saving investments.”
Another growing market segment for Blanchard’s services is consulting to manufacturing businesses — where his Sustainability pitch is twofold: Maintain environmental compliance and reduce energy use — while documenting the results. “Very often, we find companies scale-up into situations where they are required to obtain environmental permits, and they don’t even know it. Or, as part of incremental scaling, equipment often loses efficiency and businesses end up spending way more on energy than they need to.”
Regardless of the objective, one thing is certain: Clients hire Blanchard’s team knowing they’ll get a lot more than just lip service for their investment. They get results they can quantify and share with their investors and stakeholders.