Ileen Gladstone is a Senior Vice President and Senior Principal at GEI Consultants, Inc. (GEI). GEI is a national consulting engineering firm, with more than 850 professionals in 42 offices nationwide. Ileen specializes in incorporating remediation and cleanup into all her construction projects. She has overseen the cleanup of soil, groundwater, and indoor air contamination at more than 300 sites in Massachusetts.
Ileen earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from The Cooper Union in New York and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a Licensed Professional Engineer and a Licensed Site Professional.
- How have you applied your expertise in remediation and cleanup of contaminated properties to the real estate industry?
When I started in the environmental consulting industry more than 30 years ago contamination at a property could kill a deal or delay a project for years. But over time, with the expertise of environmental professionals, the industry has learned how to redevelop these abandoned or underutilized properties, bringing new life to communities, infusing new jobs, and protecting businesses and homes. Not only have I been part of teams that have built residential housing, commercial buildings, medical facilities, and academic buildings on contaminated sites, but I have also helped create parks and open spaces on once-blighted properties.
My challenge is to engineer a cleanup plan that, first and foremost, considers the developer’s future use of the property and then maps out a cost-effective strategy to meet state or federal regulations. This often includes managing soil and groundwater during construction and incorporating a vapor mitigation system into the building to eliminate the potential for indoor air contamination. Whether the project is ground up construction or a renovation, my goal is to seamlessly integrate the cleanup into the project to avoid schedule delays or cost overruns. On properties located across the Commonwealth, such as in South Boston or Gateway Cities, I have helped to develop projects on some of the most environmentally complex sites.
- You have been a member of various Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) committees. Since becoming engaged at the state level, how has the Commonwealth positioned itself to be forward thinking regarding environmental protection policies?
Massachusetts has long been a national leader in establishing policies on the cleanup and development of contaminated and brownfield properties. When it developed the licensed site professional program more than 25 years ago, MassDEP shifted day to day responsibility to the private sector, creating the opportunity for companies like GEI to handle cleanup and development of these properties. Working with the development community, MassDEP has continued to develop regulations and policies that consider how clean a property needs to be for its intended use. MassDEP is now addressing how the realities of climate change should be incorporated into future cleanups and site development.
The Commonwealth has developed various programs to encourage redevelopment of contaminated properties including liability relief, financial programs and tax incentives. Among them, the brownfields tax credits, through which owners can recover 25 to 50 percent of the cost of cleanup. I work very hard with my clients – both for profit and non-profit organizations – to position their projects to maximize the benefits those available credits.
- How has being a member of ULI shaped your professional practice?
Understanding what makes my clients tick and what keeps them up at night makes me a better consultant. ULI’s programs educate me on aspects of development that are outside my expertise, which helps me develop a better understanding of how my small piece of the puzzle impacts the whole. Collaborating with colleagues in a wide range of disciplines teaches me how to be part of a team to get a project done. Through ULI I have had the access to grow professionally while forming relationships that make the job fun.
- As a leading voice for WLI, why should ULI women get engaged with this initiative?
The recent headline in The Boston Globe read, “Study finds that successful women helping other women is the key to ensuring female filled leadership roles.” For me, this brilliantly sums up the value of WLI and why ULI members should become engaged. WLI is about promoting the advancement of women, increasing their leadership roles in the industry and increasing the visibility of these women leaders. By connecting women with other women, WLI helps create the networks and relationships to advance careers. By showcasing women leaders, WLI encourages us all by illustrating paths to higher leadership and career prospects. WLI is a place to share our victories as women.
- Winter is harsh in New England. Do you have a favorite book to read in front of a warm fire?
I have been engrossed in the Tana French Dublin Murder Squad series and find myself very attached to the detectives and their life stories. Unlike many murder series, the main character this series changes from book to book. Perhaps what makes them so interesting is that the search for the killer becomes entangled with a search for self. Tana French creates great characters that you really want to get to know, spend time with and root for. I am also a fan of audiobooks, so sometimes I listen to the murder story unfold while working on a challenging jigsaw puzzle.
To connect with Ileen please visit the ULI Member Directory (click here)