Q: What is an environmental economist?

A: An economist is someone who studies how individuals and societies make decisions about resources like time and money. An environmental economist does the same thing, only we include natural resources like land and water, or externalities like pollution that can harm health and productivity.

Q: Who are your clients, typically?

A: Our clients run the gamut from governmental agencies trying to redesign social programs, to conservation groups who want to show the long-term economic benefits of making more responsible environmental decisions, to non-profits interested in highlighting the economic and social impact of their activities.

 Q: Do you only work on projects that have an environmental component?

A: No. Although that is our specialty, we also provide more “traditional” economic services, such as economic impact analysis, market research, and survey design.

 Q: How do you help clients make better, more sustainable decisions?

A: We believe that projects undertaken for solely financial reasons are more likely to run into difficulties in the long run. By taking a hard look at the potential impacts of a program on an organization’s “triple bottom line” – people, planet, profit – you can increase acceptance of your projects and avoid potential pitfalls before they happen.

Q: How can you put a “price tag” on the environment?

A: It’s not so much putting a price tag on the environment as explicitly incorporating environmental issues into our decisions. Right now, many people and organizations assign a default value – zero – to the environment by not considering it at all.  Putting a “price tag” on the environment allows our clients to be better advocates and more clearly communicate the value of their work.  We think that what isn’t measured is usually mismanaged.  

Q: How would making more sustainable decisions help us save money?

A: Sometimes it’s not a question of saving money up front. A recent project that we did for a conservation organization showed that by installing “stream simulation” culverts (a type of infrastructure that allows streams to pass under roads while still allowing for fish passage), a town may be paying more money up front, but may save money over time because such culverts last longer, require less maintenance, and an avoid costly damages in the event of a flood or heavy rainfall. All this, and it’s better for fish passage. Good for the town’s pocketbook; good for property owners and road users; AND good for the environment.