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CH2M HILL, URS Score Highest for Sustainability among Engineering Firms

CH2M HILL and URS offer the strongest sustainable engineering capabilities among U.S. engineering companies, according to a new report from independent analyst firm Verdantix. However, the report also finds that some of the best known design and construction firms in the U.S. market lack the sustainability credentials, market strategies and domain expertise to profit from the emerging market for sustainable engineering.

The report, “Green Quadrant Sustainable Engineering US,” compares 19 of the largest U.S. engineering firms, with combined revenues of $129 billion, on 45 criteria covering utility scale renewable energy, on-site renewables, green buildings, water management, waste, hydrogen transport, smart grid and electric vehicles.

Companies evaluated include AECOM, AMEC, Arcadis, Bechtel, Black & Veatch, CH2M HILL, Fluor, Golder Associates, HDR, Jacobs Engineering, Kiewit, MWH, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Parsons Corporation, SAIC, Shaw Group, Stantec, Tetra Tech and URS Corp.

Verdantix says the U.S. sustainable business market will grow from $28 billion in 2010 to $60 billion in 2014. “The recent $50 billion infrastructure funding announced by the Obama Administration comes on top of green stimulus cash targeted at smart grid and renewable energy investment. But many conservative-minded engineering firms have failed to define sustainability strategies, lack connections with innovators in the sustainable business ecosystem and are locked into fossil fuel thinking,” said Rodolphe d’Arjuzon, director at Verdantix.

D’Arjuzon says that companies like CH2M Hill, which make sustainability a strategic objective, will be successful in the emerging sustainable engineering market.

Verdantix researchers say six firms lead the U.S. sustainable engineering market with CH2M HILL as the clear leader. The others include AECOM, AMEC, SAIC, Stantec and URS.

A key finding shows that both CH2M HILL and URS both offer a broad set of capabilities across nine categories of engineering expertise including renewable energy, green buildings, industrial facilities, water, waste, smart grid, electric vehicles and hydrogen transport.

SAIC, Shaw Group and Stantec are also active in virtually all sustainable engineering market segments with strong or leading capabilities compared to their peers, according to the report.

The report also finds that many engineering firms are held back by weak sustainability performance. The customer panel indicated that they would hire engineering firms with strong internal sustainability credentials, but many of the largest players in the market, like Bechtel and Fluor, do not focus sufficient resources on their own sustainability strategy to meet the requirements of the independent customer panel, according to the report.

Buying criteria include innovation for sustainability, a track record in delivering sustainability projects and implementing an internal sustainability strategy.

One study recommendation includes appointing a chief sustainability officer with access to C-Suite.

However, Peter Charville-Mort, the Verdantix Analyst who authored this report, says: “In such large organizations it will take 3 years to make the necessary organizational adjustments, to agree on multi-year performance objectives and get buy in from skeptical general managers across the firm.”

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