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EnSafe and the Business of the Environment

EnSafe assists NSA Mid-South in managing its natural resources.If you were thinking about the environment during the 2012 primaries and general election, you would have likely thought that environmental protection was a controversial and divisive issue.  On one side, a few candidates called for the federal EPA to be abolished, a rollback of existing regulations, and further constraints on new efforts to reduce pollution.  On the other side, there was a call for new and expensive controls on power plant emissions, reductions in fossil fuel usage, stronger clean energy initiatives, and stronger environmental controls on new development.  To the layman, it must have seemed as though these issues were black and white and largely “political”.

Environmental – Growth beyond the Headlines

To those of us in the “environmental business," it was a bit surreal, because the business of environmental protection has seen explosive growth over the last 20 years – a growth that was largely driven by a national consensus.  The apparent contradiction is created partially by the complexity of environmental issues and partially by the difference between the “theoretical” and the “practical.”   So, in this blog we’ll take a look at the actual – the business of the environment in which Memphis-based EnSafe is a leader.

The actual size of the environmental services market is not easily calculated.  But there are some indicators.  For instance, in the United States, the traditional environmental consulting business which largely did not even exist in 1980 is now at least $14B a year – calculated as the sum of the revenues of the 200 largest U.S. firms in this area.  The specialized water and wastewater industry adds another $10B per year.  The market has grown every year but one since 1990 in a range of 5-13% per year. In fact, the only year the environmental market did not grow was 2009 when most industries contracted, but even that year the environmental market was merely flat, and by 2011  had recovered and grown another 10%.  Looked at another way, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product has averaged 4.5% annualized growth since 1992.  The environmental services industry, over that same time period, has averaged a 9% annualized growth.  [Data from US Department of Commerce and the Environmental Financial Consulting Group, New York]

That rapid and consistent growth also reflects an incredible diversity of service areas that are grouped under the heading “environmental."  As might be expected, government regulations designed to limit the negative effects of commercial and industrial processes creates a big part of the market.  But actions taken by companies and their lenders to avoid creating negative environmental impact, not government regulations, are now the principal drivers.  Institutions all over the world have bought into the idea that reducing environmental impact saves money, reduces long term liabilities, mitigates natural resource depletion, and improves quality of life.  So, while some environmental issues remain debatable, the underlying “business” of environmental protection thrives.

EnSafe’s Contribution

At EnSafe, we are pleased to have been a part of this from the beginning.  Founded in 1980, in Memphis, EnSafe was in place in the early 1980s when legacy chemical issues became a national priority and forced a critical “rethink” of the way we manage chemical wastes.  EnSafe was an early leader in “remediation” as that part of the market is called.  Since then, the demand for increasingly sophisticated, more effective approaches to reducing environmental risk has driven the need to reinvent the service model many times. The Company is now a national player, not only in remediation, but in compliance, industrial hygiene, natural resource management and environmental geology.  In fact perhaps the greatest challenge facing EnSafe and our industry is the constant pressure to identify the new technologies and science required to keep up with the demand.

Scientists and engineers from Memphis and other EnSafe offices have contributed to the solutions on a wide range of problems worldwide–rocket fuel contamination of groundwater, oil production pollution in Central Europe, PCB contamination in northeastern factories, repurposing of closed military bases, restoration of contaminated streams, and many others. Locally, EnSafe has partnered with Memphis and Shelby County governments and area stakeholders to identify, Beforeremediate and revitalize brownfields, convert abandoned rail lines to bike trails, and secure new industrial development locations.  We are proud to be honored as a company to watch and proud to make our contribution to an improved environment and quality of life.  The future looks great as we learn to harness natural processes that clean up water resources more sustainably, and to leverage technology to limit air emissions and water inputs, and eliminate waste for the next generation.

AfterBefore and After

Memphis EnSafers successfully converted this Cold War legacy oil field into an area safe for residential development in Baku, Azerbaijan, a great example of the contribution made globally by environmental scientists from Memphis!

-- Phillip G. Coop

Since 1980, EnSafe has been providing superior quality consulting services to its customers. As a global provider of environmental, health and safety, engineering, and technology solutions, their tenet has been and remains that their customers’ needs come first. EnSafe Corporate Headquarters are located at 5724 Summer Trees Drive, in Memphis. Visit them online at

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (