Ken Elliott ERM, PG
What is Environmental Risk Management?
Risk Management is defined as “the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability and/or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.”
Environmental Risk Management is the application of managing environmental and other related risks such as tort liability, speculative risk, transactional, or financial risk, married with a strategy to help mitigate short and long term liabilities generally associated with business activities and opportunities.
Fidelis provides current and future property owners and investors the confidence to acquire and redevelop environmentally impaired properties by providing the most cost effective methods to assess, estimate, and execute complex environmental restoration projects while managing the variety of technical and economic risks inherent to this work. We provide our customers with services that focus on identifying those project conditions that present risk then manage the project in a manner that recognizes and mitigates those risks.
Risk mitigation is managed through monitoring and project controls and the use of risk management products designed to transfer risk to third parties whenever technically and contractually feasible. Fidelis specializes in structuring and supporting environmental liability assumption transactions.
Why do you need an Owners’ Representative?
Quite often our Client’s don’t have the in-house technical resources to manage the challenges of large environmental projects. Often consultants are selected to develop and implement the environmental strategy that will hopefully mitigate client’s risk and associated liabilities. While some consultants are good at taking samples and diagnosing liabilities,few are able to develop a comprehensive strategy that includes assessing the ‘speculative’ risk of the known uncertainties associated with every environmental project. An Owners’ Representative will represent the Client’s concerns from plan to completion with fiscal responsibility and risk management as primary focus.
Fidelis believes that the responsibility of an Owners’ Representative is to establish a strategy for mitigating an environmental project by first understanding what the Client’s goals are. Once the goals are established the responsibility of the Owners’ Representative is to keep consultants on-task with the objective of completing the project as quickly as possible. We provide experienced personnel who have worked on large and complex projects across the country and are experienced in managing our Client’s team of professionals to accomplish project goals while maintaining quality and economic objectives.
Ultimately the Owners’ Representative is responsible to the Client and success of the project. If project success is the metric used to assess performance then someone needs to represent the Client’s desire for success. If success is measured by budget and schedule, reducing liability and transferring or developing environmentally impaired properties, then an independent Owner’s Representative is essential.
Fidelis Owners’ Representatives will spend months on the road representing their client’s concerns and are not interested in prolonging a project any longer than is necessary. It goes beyond being technically sound to being available to your client wherever and whenever necessary. We work hard and expect the same of all project personnel. It is the responsibility of the Owners’ Rep to monitor the performance of the entire team and replace personnel when it is beneficial to the project. If our Client is not satisfied with the results of the project then we make changes where appropriate. We have no conflict of interest when it comes to project performance; we represent our client’s objectives and are capable of managing those who may not have the same objective or sense of project urgency.
Identifying Moral Hazards
It can be difficult to appreciate the possible moral hazards in allowing consultants and legal counsel to design and implement a strategy of mitigating risk on historic manufacturing or environmentally impaired sites. While most consultants have the interest of their clients in mind it is not the only consideration they weigh when determining how best to develop a remedial approach that will ultimately move a stranded property asset back into productive use. Many consultants are paid on hours they work, samples they collect and dirt they remove. The moral hazard is whether the consultant is more interested in billable hours and additional work or getting the project completed as quickly as possible. Only your consultant knows how he is managing his struggles with these issues.
How is Fidelis different when it comes to managing moral hazards? As an Owner’s Representative, Fidelis’ compensation is not based on hours or the number of samples collected in the field. Our job is to represent the client’s strategy for getting a project or property completed on time and under budget. Fidelis works with our client’s legal, technical and development consultants to ensure that the Client’s desires are met and that the environmental work doesn’t become a ‘science fair’ project intent on sampling and studying everything on site at the expense of the Client.