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Environmental Accountants Do It for the Green

Environmental Accountants Do It for the Green

John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer 

Accountants can do more than count beans and push back against the occasional executive who wants to borrow a few hundred million from petty cash. When financial geniuses specialize in environmental accounting, they’ll find themselves analyzing internal and external costs of environmental impacts and sometimes jumping up and down to get the attention of executives who’d rather stick their heads in the sand.

Environmental accounting, since the 1960s the province of governmental technical-assistance agencies, has in recent years spread into the private sector, where pressure to cut costs has invaded every niche of business operations. The environmental accountant can help the bottom line by analyzing the costs of pollution prevention in a manufacturing operation and comparing those numbers against the costs of lesser, cheaper forms of abatement — costs that could include missed opportunities for tax credits, fines and even bad blood with the neighbors.

“For Fortune 500 companies, environmental management is an ongoing responsibility for accountants and others assigned to control risk,” says Murphy Smith, CPA, a professor of accounting at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas.

For career seekers, environmental accounting is an opportunity to get into finance, a field about as secure as they come, while making a difference in a world facing various ecological threats.