FCS Hindsight: 2020

FCS Hindsight: 2020 image
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The FCS team reflects on this past year as a year of reinvention and sharpening our focus amidst uncertainty. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across all industries around the world faced unparalleled levels of disruption and uncertainty. 2020 has shifted the lens from stability and prosperity to adaptability and resiliency. For FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS), it has been a time of solidifying our presence in the industry, addressing unique challenges, and reframing them as opportunities, and revealing capabilities and strengths out of necessity.

Bringing communication and transparency to the forefront.

As we navigated through uncharted territory this year, we sharpened our focus and reflected on how we wanted to make our mark in the industry. What does it mean to be a leading provider of environmental, sustainability, and compliance solutions? How can we be a better resource to our clients, and beyond? In trying to answer these questions, we took on initiatives that demonstrate our continued innovation and dedication to our clients.

A major milestone was the redesign of the FCS website. Launched on February 24, the new website is streamlined to focus on our core professional services and features an intuitive sitemap tailored for clients and visitors. With the new website, we also launched the FCS Blog, a collaborative team effort bringing together our cross-disciplinary experts to provide a market resource within the changing environmental services landscape.

In a year of constant change and heightened uncertainty, our blog has emerged as a way for us to directly communicate with clients, colleagues, and staff to provide current information on CEQA litigation, state Executive Orders, impactful projects, the ways COVID-19 is affecting regulatory updates, safety measures and protocols, and so on. To ensure we can be a relevant resource, we pulled back the curtain behind our operations to be transparent in how we adapted to the Covid disruptions. Here, we round up some of the most popular posts with our audience this year:

Given the global shift to working remotely, we explored ways to connect with our clients and the industry. The quarterly Environmental Monitor publication featured several of our articles in their Summer and Fall issues. We were also a proud sponsor of the 2020 Association of Environmental Professionals’ (AEP) California State Conference, which gave us the opportunity to hear from and connect with our amazing colleagues. Our Director of Cultural Resources, Dana DePietro, joined other esteemed panelists in a topical session that offered an enlightening discussion on current CEQA-related historical resources case law.

We also hosted and participated in live webinars alongside likeminded organizations. 

City Resiliency and Why it Matters. ADEC Innovations and our own Director of Environmental Services, Mary Bean, joined Sister Cities International (SCI) and the Global CEO Alliance (GCEOA)  to introduce and explain crucial concepts related to resiliency, ESG, and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) as they relate to cities.

Private Sector Resiliency: ESG Insights and Opportunities. In this webinar with Climate Action KC (CAKC), Kansas City business leaders shared their experiences, successes, and challenges addressing ESG from different industries in an ever-changing landscape.

Adaptation and Municipal Financing in the Era of COVID-19. We joined CAKC and Moody’s to present an overview of the increasingly relevant context of private investing for local governments, which ESG factors and risks are used by bond raters, and climate resiliency in the era of COVID-19.

Creating impactful work.

Major disruptions make it challenging to get back to a sense of normalcy.  We focused on a path driving us towards growth while striving to go above and beyond for our clients. Amongst so much uncertainty, our teams worked harder than ever to deliver high quality work to our clients while providing extensive support as our public agency clients adjusted to Covid requirements for public meetings, and Covid requirements related to field work and public access to CEQA documents. Comprising a vast portfolio of impactful work, FCS surpassed the milestone of 100 Environmental Services on-call contracts for cities and counties, doubling the number of contracts in just three years. This achievement, alongside some of our key projects below, is a testament to our Team’s high quality of work and strong reputation.

LA RICS Project. FCS provided monitoring and reporting services during the construction of more than 150 land mobile radio facilities at sites located primarily in Los Angeles County. The land mobile radio sites contain the infrastructure and equipment necessary to provide voice communications coverage throughout the County for emergency responders. These locations are widely dispersed across the County in both urban and rural settings, and include coastal locations, sites in downtown Los Angeles, remote mountain peaks across the County, and the northern high desert. FCS conducted the biological, archaeological, and paleontological pre-construction and construction monitoring and reporting services in accordance with the Construction Management Requirements outlined in the NEPA Environmental Assessment that FCS prepared for the project.

Seefried Warehouse Project. FCS prepared a Focused EIR, Initial Study, and supporting Technical Reports/Memoranda for the Seefried Warehouse Project in the City of Fontana. Specifically, we prepared technical reports/memoranda addressing project impacts on air quality, GHG emissions, noise, heritage trees, and cultural resources. FCS also peer reviewed the applicant’s Phase I ESA prior to its integration into the environmental document. The project applicant, Seefried Industrial Properties, proposed to construct an approximately 376,910-square-foot distribution warehouse with 54 truck dock bays, 73 truck parking spaces, and 163 automobile parking spaces on 17.6 acres of vacant land. A General Plan and Zone Change were required to allow warehouse distribution usage on these parcels.

Westin Hotel 15183 Checklist, City of Napa, CA. FCS is preparing a CEQA Guidelines Section 15183 Checklist for a proposed Westin Hotel located in the Downtown Neighborhood Specific Plan (DNSP) area of Napa. We are preparing an Initial Study that references the previous analysis and mitigation measures to evaluate the environmental impacts that could result from the proposed project in comparison to what was analyzed in the DNSP EIR. The Consistency Checklist would determine whether the proposed project falls within the buildout parameters evaluated within the DNSP EIR, and whether there would be any new or substantially greater impacts disclosed.

Oxnard Project Bruin Distribution. Project Bruin would be a new e-commerce Fulfillment Center for consumer products constructed on approximately 64.65 acres located within Area 5 of the 430-acre Sakioka Farms Business Park Specific Plan in Oxnard, California. FCS will prepare technical studies including an Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis, Biological Resources Assessment (BRA), Phase I Cultural Resources Assessment (CRA), Paleontological Records Search, and a Noise Impact Analysis. These technical studies will be utilized and incorporated into the Consistency Checklist and supporting data will be appended to the environmental document. 

Redefining inclusive leadership.

Thanks to our dedicated staff, both the Walnut Creek, CA and Irvine, CA FCS offices achieved Green Business Certification, reinforcing our sustainable values within our operations. Our certification also recognizes that these offices have taken action to reduce our own personal and professional waste and pollution, save energy, support other green businesses, and promote environmental awareness in the office. To learn more about our journey and to learn how your business can become certified, read more here.

While our leadership team has always prioritized the health and well-being of our staff, this year took on an entirely different meaning in the face of a global pandemic.

We also did our best to address this year’s challenges with honesty and transparency. While our leadership team has always prioritized the health and well-being of our staff, this year took on an entirely different meaning in the face of a global pandemic. As the crisis escalated, so did stress and anxiety surrounding the unknown. Critical questions came to the forefront. How can we support and maintain our team’s well-being as working conditions change so drastically? What can we do to continue to engage our teams and mitigate the risk of feeling isolated?

From the onset, we set out to hear straight from the source, gathering feedback from our staff by taking regular ‘pulse check’ surveys. Top concerns included remote working logistics and a loss of social interaction. We worked hard to make the transition as seamless as possible with diligent IT support, and we offered a home office allowance to help staff configure their new workspaces and enhance their productivity.

We created a meeting place using the Microsoft Teams platform, encouraging interaction and casual conversations about pets, quarantine DIY projects, puzzles, and more. We have weekly happy hours on Zoom, and we continue our tradition of monthly birthday celebrations. On the wellness side, our HR and People Operations teams created the FCS Well-being Brochure, providing valuable links, articles, and best practices regarding benefits, programs, and self-help tools.

In addition to continually addressing the physical and mental health and well-being of our staff throughout the course of the pandemic, we created the FCS Culture and Diversity Committee to help build a strong collaborative culture across internal platforms, policies, resources, and events, and explore the impact we can have outside the organization.

After hearing the staggering number of working parents who have had to change their employment situation, reduce their hours, or leave the workforce altogether due to the pandemic, we proactively created a roundtable discussion with working parents to help support and encourage their careers and position them for growth, rather than watch them make seemingly impossible choices.

Emerging stronger.

Undoubtedly this has been a year colored with complex challenges. Many of us have been tested in ways that we have never experienced before. As a result, we have a unique opportunity to lean into the uncertainty and learn from these critical challenges, while designing a more sustainable path for the future. With a willingness to listen, learn, and collaborate, we have navigated through it together and will continue to do so. We have reshaped the ways that we work, communicate, and socialize, developing a more flexible and more employee-oriented culture that places us in a more resilient position.

As we look ahead to 2021, we are excited to increase our industry presence and continue this spirit of reinvention and innovation. We look forward to continuing to go above and beyond for our clients. And ultimately, we look forward to the continued growth of our teams.


Are you interested in joining our collaborative team at FCS? We are always on the lookout for sharp, energetic team members to share their ideas and make an impact.

Check out our current career opportunities to learn more about joining us in this exciting New Year. 

About the author


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FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS), an ADEC Organization, offers a full complement of efficient, practical and cost-effective services to assess and manage the environmental impact of new and modified projects. FCS has over 37 years of experience across more than 8,000 projects subject to CEQA requirements.

With more than 39 years of experience, FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS), is a leading provider of environmental, sustainability, and compliance solutions, delivering fully-integrated consulting, software, and data management services.

How we can help

In an ever-changing regulatory and sustainability environment, FCS understands the challenges you face. Our highly qualified environmental specialists, energy management consultants, and technical experts deliver integrated, industry-specific solutions that move your project forward—so that you can focus on what matters.