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Helping the world get greener
Environmental businesses are everywhere these days, but Ecology & Environment (FSB 100 #50) was eco-friendly long before green was a hot property -- or a viable business model.

Founded in 1970 by four friends who worked together at a research laboratory in Buffalo, E&E has more than 1,000 employees, a third of whom hold advanced degrees in disciplines such as chemistry, engineering, physics and zoology. The full-service operation provides environmental-impact studies for oil pipelines, counsel on cleanup of toxic dump sites and advice to alternative-energy startups.

Thanks to its breadth and depth of experience, E&E has been on a recession-proof winning streak. The federal stimulus package, which is overflowing with green provisions, may provide the company an even bigger boost.

Being on the front line in the fight against pollution hasn't always been pretty. In 1974 E&E purchased a wind turbine in an attempt to generate cheap eco-friendly electricity. A year into the project, employees arrived for work one day to discover that the turbine had spun free.

"It went whirling through the air, and one of its blades wound up buried in the parking lot's asphalt," recalls co-founder Gerhard Neumaier, 71. The ill-fated experiment prompted E&E to educate itself about wind power -- and how to construct a safe and reliable turbine. In the years since, E&E has consulted on more than 200 wind-power projects.

Read more about E&E's global green quest.

NEXT: Safeguarding the food chain

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LAST UPDATE: Jul 06 2009 | 9:44 AM ET
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