WSP USA Acquires YR&G Sustainability Consulting Firm

WSP USA has acquired YR&G, a consulting firm that specializes in sustainable consulting, education and analysis.

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Josh Radoff, a founding principal at YR&G, said he views this new partnership as an ideal fit for his staff of 24 engineers, building scientists, ecologists, construction managers and sustainable business specialists.

“I’m excited about the enhanced capabilities and resources our team will have as part of WSP,” Radoff said. “I am very proud of what YR&G has been able to achieve over the past 11 years, and I feel personally excited to have this opportunity to amplify and build upon those accomplishments.”

YR&G has a presence in Denver/Boulder; New York City; Chicago; and Portland, Oregon, but has worked around the globe with private developers, municipalities, public development authorities, school districts, architecture and construction firms, property management companies, building owners, large and midsize corporate entities and local governments.

“We’ve worked on hundreds of projects covering a wide spectrum of sustainability, whether it was creating a sustainability plan for an affordable multi-family residential community in Denver, corporate headquarters projects emphasizing health and well-being, nationwide hospitality and real estate portfolios, commercial and residential high-rise buildings in New York City, or new master-planned urban developments in Korea and Dubai,” Radoff said. He said the YR&G currently has over 100 active projects, large and small.

YR&G offers services in several key markets:

  • building design and construction, supporting building owners and project teams across the spectrum of development projects to optimize building design and construction practices for sustainability-related performance and market value;
  • existing building and portfolio performance and operations, working with facility managers, building engineers, property owners and corporate real estate personnel to improve building performance and implement best practices across operations;
  • community and neighborhood development, supporting new and existing communities to become hubs of living and economic vitality and incorporate district infrastructure; and
  • corporate sustainability, helping large and mid-size companies develop and implement comprehensive approaches for managing sustainability initiatives.

“Our buildings practice was founded on the notion that driving high-performance design was essential to our collaboration with architects in the creation of great buildings,” said David Cooper, president of WSP USA’s buildings practice. “Over the years, that passion expanded to include broader sustainability goals with our proud participation as a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council – at the time the only engineering firm to be part of that movement. The acquisition of YR&G enables us to broaden and deepen our expertise in both the design of high-performance buildings and the strategic analysis and advice we can provide to our clients.”

Sustainability Growth

Radoff was working for another consulting firm when he and his original partner started YR&G in 2006.

“We saw huge interest in green building, and its growth potential,” he said. “We wanted to start a company where we could work on great projects and have an impact … and work the way we like to work. Most importantly, we wanted to be a voice in the sustainability world. YR&G became an amazing vehicle to have that voice and exercise it.”

He said that shared vision at YR&G resulted in an outstanding team of professionals. In addition to his partners, Jenny Carney and Narada Golden, Radoff said the company’s leadership includes Keith Amann, Hannah Bronfman, John Mlade, Alan Scott, Ashley Muse, Gaspar Cabrera and Ben Stanley.

“We created a culture that provided our team with a lot of autonomy, and allowed them to function the way they needed to function in order to be creative and successful,” Radoff said. “I sense that WSP shares our culture, and we can keep being who we are. We look forward to doing just that.”

He said the breadth of multidisciplinary services – buildings, transportation, enterprise sustainability, carbon management, utilities – was also appealing and made WSP a good fit for YR&G.

“We wanted to join a firm that wasn’t limited in its scope,” Radoff said. “I was amazed by the scale and variety of many of WSP’s projects, and by the opportunity to pull together peer resources to contribute to a project. As part of the WSP team, we think we can be even more effective for our current clients, and provide enhanced services to WSP’s.”

YR&G will integrate into built ecology, WSP’s built environment sustainability group.

“Our built ecology group currently provides specialist services in high-performance design, including passive strategies, ultra-low and net zero energy and water systems, façade optimization, building integrated renewable energy, indoor environmental quality and post occupancy measurement and verification,” said Tom Marseille, WSP’s director of sustainability for the U.S. buildings practice. “We will be creating a new strategic vision which incorporates YR&G’s service areas and capabilities, and draws from other capabilities from around the company, such as district energy, carbon management, and enterprise (corporate) sustainability.

“WSP’s existing built ecology practice is one of the best high-performance analytics groups around and provides a lot of great internal sustainability support to the other sectors within the firm,” Radoff said. “YR&G is bringing a complementary focus, range of services, and overarching mission, along with an outstanding set of clients and projects in a number of geographic locations. We hope the full range of services we offer will become a catalyst for creating market recognition as one of the best sustainability consulting practices nationwide.”

The staff of the New York office of YR&G visit the High Line, an elevated linear park along a former rail line on the West Side of Manhattan.

Natural Next Step

Born in Boston and raised in Connecticut, Radoff graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Colby College in Maine. He taught high school physics and coached soccer in Richmond, Virginia before returning to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering and sustainable energy engineering from Columbia University and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. During graduate school, he spent a summer in Colorado learning to install solar photovoltaic panels, and five years later decided to move to Boulder.

While at Columbia, he was inspired to pursue a career in sustainability engineering after hearing a presentation from Amory Lovins, founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute and author of Natural Capitalism. “He has a great way of thinking and talking about sustainability; and at that point in 1999, it was all very new and exciting,” Radoff said.

“Sustainability is challenging, and constantly evolving, but it is so gratifying when you can see such positive change from the work you are doing,” he said. “The projects we work on are always trying to push the envelope on decarbonization, human and ecological health, resiliency, integration of natural systems, and just creating great cities and buildings. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to help figure out what a project should be and the best way for the team to get there.”

He said joining WSP feels like a “natural next step” for YR&G. “The acquisition will allow YR&G to work on a wider range of projects and have a greater impact. It will also enable us to expand our sustainability expertise beyond the building sector, supporting WSP’s advisory, transportation and infrastructure, energy, and water and environment clients across the U.S and abroad.

“We’ve found a new home that has a similar vision for sustainability,” he added. “I am grateful that YR&G and its mission will live on in a way I don’t think it could have otherwise. I think it’s going to be a great next step for us.”