A sustainability consultant is an individual who is trained to help businesses or homeowners lower their environmental impact. These professionals help individuals calculate how much energy they use, how much is wasted, and in what ways these numbers can be lowered effectively. Consultants may also provide information on contractors and other professionals who provide sustainable living services, such as solar panel installation and organically grown food products.
The career of sustainability consultant is fairly new, and there are no set guidelines or educational requirements for prospective consultants in many areas. Those wishing to enter the field may have specific knowledge of particular industries or may have an understanding of the environmental impact certain practices have on the world as a whole. It is required that consultants be knowledgeable in the areas they intend to work in.
There is speculation that eventually the sustainability consultant job title will become obsolete as businesses become more environmentally friendly in order to boost sales and attract new customers. As consumers become more involved with decreasing their environmental impact, doing business in the new way may become common practice. This does not necessarily mean that consultants will lose their place in many industries, but more stringent educational requirements and specialized knowledge will undoubtedly become more valuable.
Those who work as sustainability consultants work primarily with business owners, but sometimes they work with homeowners who are looking to lessen their impact on the environment. It is important to work well with people and have inside knowledge of emerging trends for lowering one’s carbon footprint. This is especially important for those who specialize in a particular industry. Consultants must become familiar with common ways of doing business and discover new technologies or supplies which make reducing waste easier.
Lowering a company’s environmental impact may include simple measures, such as doing more business virtually and allowing employees to work from home. This not only lowers carbon emissions by reducing the number of commuters on the road each workday, but it also lowers the overall energy costs by requiring less office space and electricity.
Consultants should also be aware of which companies do business in environmentally-friendly ways so they can direct their clients to new suppliers or partners. Some retailers, for instance, only accept new merchandise from manufacturers who produce their goods using sustainable materials or through environmentally friendly production processes. The role of the consultant is to find these businesses and direct them to one another.