San Diego, Calif. -- The U.S. environmental industry grew 3.9% in 2014 to reach $353.7 billion in revenues, according to primary research and data compiled by Environmental Business International Inc., publisher of Environmental Business Journal. The environmental industry represented 2.82% of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, and EBI estimates environmental industry employment at 1.74 million in 2014, up slightly from 2013. The U.S. environmental industry boasts a trade surplus of $15 billion and 14% of its total revenues are generated outside the U.S.
EBJ tracks 14 business segments of the Environmental Industry, which it divides into three categories: 1. Environmental Services; 2. Environmental Equipment; and 3. Resource Management. EBJ’s annual edition and accompanying data tables provide statistical analysis for all 14 segments, including market size and historical, current and future growth estimates.
Environmental Services only narrowly exceeded U.S. GDP growth of 2.4% in 2014 as a continuing decline in federal spending and an abrupt slowdown in domestic oil exploration impacted core segments. This category-which includes core services hazardous waste management, remediation, environmental testing, and environmental consulting & engineering, as well as solid waste and wastewater treatment-has consistently exceeded GDP growth by one to three percentage points since 2000, and 2015 EBI expects that Environmental Services returned to that range in 2015.
Within the Environmental Services category, Wastewater Treatment Works turned in 4.1% growth to $56 billion as rates continued a steady ascent, Solid Waste Management grew 2.2% to $58 billion on declining volumes, and the environmental consulting & engineering industry just 1.9%. Fortunately for firms in the $28.9 billion environmental C&E business segment, property development, construction and domestic industrial activity made up for the declining federal and oil & gas categories: Government revenues were down 2%, but private sector revenues rose 6%.
In the Environmental Equipment category, comprised of five business segments, revenues grew 3%, led by Instruments and Information Systems, which rose by 5% fueled by double-digit growth in environmental software and information systems. Sales in pollution control equipment were generally slow as municipal buyers in water and waste remained cautious or under-funded, and utilities did their best to delay air pollution control investments, although industrial buyers in air and water provided some growth.
Resource Management gains were dominated by Clean Energy Systems & Power in 2014, expanding its revenues by 28% due mostly to a significant gain in U.S. windpower installations after a slow 2013, and ongoing growth in distributed and utility solar power. Solar doubled its U.S. generation to 18,000 GWh in 2014, but that is still just one-tenth of U.S. wind generation. Resource Recovery trailed all segments with a 6% fall in revenues in 2014 that continued in 2015, due mostly to declining prices, particularly in metals and paper. Recycling rates have leveled since 2008 as have volumes of recovered materials, but volumes going to landfill or incineration continue to decline gradually with the exception of food waste and plastics that continue to make up increasing shares of discarded waste in the U.S.
Infrastructure as a growth driver
EBJ’s annual overview edition poses the question: Could the industry be on the brink of a new era propelled by infrastructure and climate resiliency? The need to re-invest in critical infrastructure has long been advocated by states, mayors, industry, the American Society of Civil Engineers and many others; the estimate of spending still needed by 2020 is staggering at $3.6 trillion.
'Admittedly these trillions is out of range for Congress' 2015 transportation bill, but even if political consensus can support a fraction of this spending it will be significant for the environmental industry,' said EBJ Editor-in-Chief Grant Ferrier. 'Local governments have already elevated investment in infrastructure for a number of reasons including economic competitiveness, quality of life including air and water quality, and even resilience in the face of extreme weather events.'
'Climate resiliency, or even the broader topic of climate adaptation, is very likely play a part in future infrastructure spending and is already being built into almost everything in the wake of Katrina and Sandy. Whichever party commands Washington, state capitols or city halls after the next election, a larger focus on infrastructure, and indeed resilient infrastructure, may be ready to take center stage.'
Inside this edition:
EBJ's annual industry overview presents statistical summaries of the industry in 14 segments with multiple charts with revenues, growth, employment, number of companies, forecast and revenue breakdowns by client, media and function. Each year EBJ analyzes and quantifies markets in 14 segments of the environmental industry through data collection on some 1,400 environmental companies. This 32-page edition features a section on environmental labs, solid waste, a review of EBI's first Washington DC Fall Summit, and profiles of 15 companies.
Exhibits and data include:
- Environmental Industry vs. GDP Growth: 1988 to 2015e
- U.S. Environmental Industry: Segment Growth vs. U.S. GDP
- Environmental Services: Key Growth Factors: 2004-2016
- U.S. Environmental Industry Segments by Client Type in 2014 ($bil)
- The U.S. Environmental Industry: 2012-2014 and 2015-2017 Forecast
- U.S. Environmental Industry: Revenues by Function
- 2012-14 ENR Top 200 Environmental Firms: Revenue Perfomance
- U.S. Environmental Industry: Revenues by Media
- Selected Materials Discarded in the Municipal Waste Stream, 1960-2012
- Total Materials Discarded in the U.S. Municipal Waste Stream, 1960-2012
- 2014 Universe of Solid Waste Companies
- Ranking of Forecasted Growth in Client Sectors in 2015-16
- Value of Construction Put in Place, 2013-2015 ($billion)
- Top 25 U.S. Environmental Lab Companies ($mil in 2014 Environmental Revenue)
U.S. Environmental Industry Datapack
EBI's annual research on the environmental industry is also packaged into a comprehensive dataset of spreadsheets with size, growth, forecasts and breakdowns in all 14 segments.