Preparing Request for Proposal

What should an effective Request For Proposal look like? An RFP for source testing projects should address the project purpose, describe the process(es), list the targeted test contaminants and sources, and identify site specific safety concerns.

The value of a well written and concise Request for Proposal (RFP) cannot be overstated for both the originator of the request and the responding firms.  

If you have ever requested multiple bids for a source testing program at your facility, you may have been surprised at the wide difference in cost between testing companies for the same project.  There are a number of valid reasons for this; differences in strategic approach, available resources, timing, knowledge and experience are taken into account.  However, RFPs for projects are often deficient or confusing.  A poorly written or incomplete RFP can lead to speculation and confusion by testing firms which ultimately results in extra time and effort for the reviewer of the source testing proposals.

What should an effective RFP include? An RFP for source testing projects should address the project purpose, describe the process(es), list the targeted test contaminants and sources, and identify site specific safety concerns.

Purpose of Testing Program

Source testing is conducted for many reasons such as compliance with operating permits, support Emission Inventories, evaluation & certification of process control equipment, certification of in-stack analyzers or process understanding and control.

If testing is required to satisfy conditions of Environmental Compliance Approval, Operating Permit, Control Order or some other regulatory initiative, then it is important to indicate that up-front. In some cases, the Permit will dictate the test method required for the program. In every case, timelines and due dates are defined.

Most jurisdictions require submission and acceptance of a Test Protocol or Intent to Test documentation by the company well in advance of the field work. A copy of the applicable permit, approval or order should accompany the RFP in these cases.

Description of Process

The type of process is paramount in effectively determining the cost and preparing for a source testing campaign. There are two basic types of industrial processes: Continuous or Batch. Obviously, these process types are based on time and duration of operation and will influence the testing strategy for the source.

Targeted Test Contaminants

There are literally hundreds of pollutants that can be quantified using established pollutant-specific test methods. Most companies are familiar with the inherent stack pollutants for their facility and industry. A test matrix depicting the sources to be tested and the targeted pollutants is strongly recommended. This is likely the most crucial item of information required for the proposal.

Description of Sources to Be Tested

The physical characteristics of the source are very important in determining the approach, resources and the effort required to effectively meet the objective of the program. Due to the nature of the job, stack testing is very physically demanding. The effort required for any particular project depends on the size, location and access of the source. Obviously, large diameter and tall stacks involve more work than small diameter stacks that are accessible from ground level. The best RFPs contain photographs and drawings of the stacks to be tested.

Safety Concerns

The facility should detail any site specific safety requirements and the length of any contractor orientation training in the RFP.  Effluent and ambient conditions are also important to communicate. Aggressive environments require a more cautious approach and additional preparations to ensure the job is completed safely. This may involve the use of special personal protective equipment (PPE) such as respirators, supplied breathing air, face shields, goggles or high temperature suits. For hot and humid environments a good supply of electrolyte solutions will be required to prevent dehydration of the field crew.

Request Information on the Testing Firm

Lastly, the RFP is a good opportunity to obtain additional information about the companies conducting source testing. Since safety is the ultimate priority, it is important that the testing crew have a history of working safely and possess the necessary insurance to work on-site. For the sake of due diligence, the RFP should require the inclusion of the CVs for the field crew, project references, WSIB clearance certificate, proof of liability and vehicle insurance, Joint Health and Safety Committee agreements, corporate Safety Policies, safety procedures and training records. A well-established and proactive testing firm will have this information readily available.


For more detailed information on preparation of RFPs, please contact:

Michael Denomme

Peter Pakalnis

Source Testing Source Testing (44 KB)