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Deloitte, McKinsey, PwC Lead Sustainability Strategy Consulting

CH2M Hill, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, ERM, KPMG, McKinsey, PE International and PwC stand out as the leading sustainability consulting firms, says a report from independent analyst firm Verdantix.

Green Quadrant: Sustainability Consulting (US) 2013 provides sustainability executives a short-list to help them select the right firm based on practices at 16 firms that were judged on 49 criteria, Verdantix says.

Report author Patty Satkiewicz says succeeding in the $700 million sustainability consulting market requires deep pockets and unprecedented expertise. The report says top firms are those that have invested ahead of the curve in methods, thought leadership and framework, while the consulting companies that did not make the cut struggled to building critical mass within their teams or did not secure funding to subsidize practice growth.

Other key finding include:

  • Deloitte, McKinsey and PwC lead in sustainability strategy consulting.
  • CH2M Hill leads in innovation.
  • Deloitte and ICF International lead in reporting and communications efforts.
  • Ernst & Young, KPMG and McKinsey offer the strongest sustainability risk assessment services.
  • BSR, CH2M Hill and ERM lead the US market in stakeholder and community engagement.
  • AT Kearney, CH2M Hill, PE International and PwC have the most compelling capabilities for responsible supply chain and product life-cycle assessment advisory.
  • McKinsey continues to lead the market on energy and carbon strategy.
  • CH2M Hill and McKinsey offer the deepest expertise for water strategy advisory.

Shopping for the right consulting firm will depend on whether buyers need pure business advice or a blend of technical and business advice, Verdantix CEO David Metcalfe says.

Sustainability consulting was the stronghold of boutique consulting firms until 2008, when the big firms entered the market. The Green Quadrant report notes that until 2008, sustainability strategies for clients were more about brand positioning and responding to pressure from NGOs. Going forward, it will be a matter of competitive positioning, involving product innovation, reducing environmental risks and increasing revenues, the report says.

In March, Verdantix ranked IBM, Accenture, Deloitte and CGI as the top firms with IT systems that support energy and environmental management.

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