Environmental Engineers use Engineering principles, soil science, biology, and chemistry to create solutions to environmental problems. They are in charge of researching, developing, designing, and producing solutions to issues ranging from air pollution and water contamination, to fuel consumption and recycling. Environmental Engineering also addresses global issues, such as climate change and environmental sustainability.
Environmental Engineering is a very broad term that actually incorporates various Engineering disciplines in its pursuit to make the world a more environmentally-friendly place, including Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, and even Aeronautical Engineering.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Environmental Engineers are required to complete.
- Studying, evaluating, and managing the harmful effects of human activity on the environment:
- Using mathematical techniques and computer-aided design (CAD) software to assess or forecast past, present, and future environmental problems;
- developing ways to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, gas emissions, and ozone depletion;
- developing and using programs related to conservation and management of natural resources;
- conducting hazardous-waste management studies to evaluate the degree of the hazard and be able to advise on its treatment and containment;
- improving processes such as recycling, waste disposal, public health, industrial hygiene, and water and air pollution control;
- designing systems for municipal and industrial water supplies, as well as industrial wastewater treatment;
- analyzing water and soil samples;
- looking for new sustainable energy sources; and
- writing reports and recommendations on their investigations.
- Coordinating and managing different environmental projects:
- Liaising with clients to understand and assess the environmental problem that needs to be solved in order to actively reduce their negative impact on the environment;
- conducting meticulous research and developing a technical solution to the environmental problem;
- researching the environmental impact of clients’ construction projects, if any;
- carrying out site assessments;
- presenting the project to the client in order to get approval;
- designing the solution, whether it’s mechanical or structural, using CAD software; in case the solution is chemical, using advanced chemistry and scientific principles in order to develop it;
- testing and troubleshooting the solution before it goes into production; and
- installing the solution and maintaining it during its operational lifecycle.
- Collaborating with environmental Scientists, Planners, Hazardous Waste Technicians, Engineers, and other specialists (e.g. Lawyers and business experts) to address environmental problems and environmental sustainability.
- Conducting technical audits and evaluating the environmental impact of a company’s industrial and commercial operations:
- Recommending essential clean-ups, reclamation processes, and waste management activities;
- assessing how a site complies with environmental regulations;
- training others in topics such as compliance standards and in quality assurance documentation maintenance; and
- providing expert assistance in database development, network, and regulatory analysis.
- Offering consultancy services to clients looking to make amendments to existing products:
- Altering existing products to fit the clients’ current environmental needs;
- developing more environmentally-friendly fuels;
- designing new turbines for hydroelectric dams; and
- manufacturing new types of electric cars.
- Obtaining, updating, and maintaining plans, permits, and standard operating procedures.
- Knowing and complying with any relevant municipal, provincial, and federal environmental legislation and policies.
- Researching, developing, designing, and producing solutions to environmental issues.
- Preparing, reviewing, and updating environmental investigation reports.
- Designing projects that lead to environmental protection (e.g. water reclamation facilities, air pollution control systems, and systems that convert waste to energy).
- Providing technical support for environmental remediation and protection projects, as well as legal actions.
- Analyzing scientific data and carrying out quality control checks.
- Monitoring progress of environmental improvement programs.
- Inspecting industrial and municipal facilities and programs in order to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
- Advising corporations and government agencies about procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites.
The average Environmental Engineer salary is $71,319 per year or $37 per hour. This is around 2.2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $50,000 while most experienced workers make up to $100,000. These results are based on 19 salaries extracted from job descriptions.