Solomon is a principal engineer at an environmental engineering consulting firm. His main role is to advise clients on what type of action to take when they are faced with risks and liabilities while conducting certain projects.
In one case, Solomon had a client that wanted to expand their campus until it was within approximately 50 meters of a marshland. After construction of this extension, however, the client must ensure that a proper waste management plan is in place so that contamination will have minimal effect on the surrounding habitat.
The client came up with a solution that satisfied, but did not go beyond the bare minimum of state regulations. In other words, although Solomon’s client prioritized a cost-effective plan, the environment would be subject to a certain percentage of contamination that would, within five to ten years, stifle the marshland’s flourishing.
Should Solomon push for a more fiscally demanding, yet sustainable strategy--at the risk of his client backing out of the partnership altogether?
Jocelyn Tan was a 2014-2015 Hackworth Fellow in Engineering Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.