Consulting & Engineering: Climate Change Practice


Gold MedalWSP Environment & Energy (WSP) for achieving a position as one of the world's leading advisors on sustainability and climate change issues. WSP's specialist Sustainability & Energy practice employs more than 150 professionals, drawing on expertise from WSP's approximately 9,000 professional staff worldwide. In North America alone, WSP's Sustainability & Energy practice grew revenues by 30% in 2011 and is strongly positioned to maintain this growth trajectory in 2012 and beyond, according to the company.

Through 2011, the firm has provided greenhouse gas management support to seven of 11 companies named to the Carbon Disclosure Project's S&P 500 Carbon Performance Leadership Index, including Bank of America and Cisco Systems.

In 2011, WSP clients achieved an average score of 86, while the average score for S&P 500 companies was 62. Bank of America described WSP's support as "critical" in helping the company articulate its commitments and achievements and ensure that its approach and methodology was appropriate. The bank had a score of 97 for 2011.

While many of the details of client assignments are not disclosed publicly, WSP has worked with the above listed companies and others to develop their sustainability visions and strategies, design principles and standards, product and service innovations, customer engagement, impact assessment and external relations initiatives. Its GHG advisory work includes scope 1, 2 and 3 inventories, development of corporate GHG reduction goals, strategies and projects.

For one major corporation, WSP has recently performed a climate change risk assessment and adaptation plan for a strategic location in the United Kingdom. The work was focused on climate change impacts for 2020, 2050 and 2080 time horizons and involved: a review of regional climate information and location specific climate scenarios; an evaluation of operations likely to be impacted over the three time horizons; a set of recommendations to address the residual climate change risks; and a climate change action plan which defines responsibilities and a monitoring program for implementation.

Silver MedalParsons Brinckerhoff (New York) for its work developing and implementing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and incorporate climate change adaptation strategies in planning and transportation, and for its consulting engineering services in renewable energy and compressed air energy storage.

In 2010 and 2011, the firm worked with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to motivate and support state DOTs to respond to climate change. Parsons Brinckerhoff assisted in developing AASHTO's climate change website (, conducted national webinars, oversaw a weekly climate change news brief and ran one-day workshops on climate change for DOTs in seven states and the District of Columbia.

Parsons Brinckerhoff was contracted by the Strategic Highway Research Program to research and advise on how GHG emissions can be integrated into highway planning; the firm identified cost-effective strategies and produced a practitioners' handbook. On the policy front, Parsons Brinckerhoff's Cindy Burbank worked for the Center for Climate and Energy Strategies (the renamed Pew climate change group) to develop legislative policy recommendations for GHG reductions from transportation.

In the planning realm, Parsons Brinckerhoff partnered with the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations in 2011 to raise awareness of climate change among MPOs and assist MPO staff to identify strategies, tools and best practices. Also in 2011, the firm completed a climate change mitigation and adaptation policy plan for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission.

Parsons Brinckerhoff has also been in the forefront of research and advice on climate adaptation for transportation. In 2011, the firm's work for the National Academy of Sciences, Federal Highway Administration, Maryland State Highway Administration and other clients focused on understanding the implications of climate change at the organizational and project levels and helping develop guidance for incorporating adaptation strategies to ensure transportation network resiliency in the face of climate uncertainties.

In renewable energy, Parsons Brinckerhoff works with a variety of clients on conventional hydropower development and relicensing and technology assessments for tidal power. In energy storage, the firm is in the early phases of design for NYSEG, an Iberdrola subsidiary, on a 150 MW advanced compressed air energy storage demonstration plant funded with $29.3 million in Recovery Act funds. The professional services division of Balfour Beatty, Parsons Brinckerhof had revenues of $2.5 billion in 2010.