2012 MEP Giants

Data from the top 100 consulting firms show growth, mostly on the East Coast.

By Amara Rozgus, Editor in Chief, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Oak Brook, Ill. August 9, 2012

The 2012 MEP Giants generated $33.8 billion in total revenue during the previous fiscal year and $5.3 billion in MEP design revenue. Table 1 shows the top MEP Giants firms based on MEP design revenue, which is how the MEP Giants are ranked. Table 2 shows the top MEP Giants firms based on total revenue. The complete table of rankings is online and available to download. The $33.8 billion in total revenue was a rise of about $5 billion from 2011 data, mostly due to the influx of 24 new firms not on the 2011 list. This year, two-thirds (66%) of all firms’ revenue is generated from MEP design.

Top 10 firms by design revenue
Firm name Total MEP design revenue ($ US)
Black & Veatch 808,241,000
AECOM Technology 546,000,000
URS Corp. 505,000,000
Southland Industries 407,000,000
Burns & McDonnell 402,000,000
exp 156,000,000
Parsons Brinckerhoff 154,000,000
Stantec Inc. 123,332,578
HDR Inc. 123,027,527
Arup 105,238,546 

Table 1: Top 10 firms are listed by design revenue. Black & Veatch also topped the list as the No. 1 firm with the most electrical/power design revenue. Courtesy: Consulting-Specifying Engineer

While total revenue increased over 2011 revenue, participants again indicated that “the economy’s impact on the construction market” was the greatest challenge. According to Q2 2012 data from FMI, the nonresidential construction market forecast is mixed, with healthcare and manufac­turing showing the most positive signs of growth. The 2012 MEP Giants firms generally follow this trend, and have several projects in hospitals, data centers, and schools in progress or recently completed. Several project profiles are in a special interactive display.

Top 10 firms by gross revenue
Firm name Total gross revenue for fiscal year ($ US)
URS Corp. 9,550,000,000
AECOM Technology 8,039,000,000
Parsons Brinckerhoff 2,632,984,237
Black & Veatch 2,559,996,000
Stantec Inc. 1,717,000,000
HDR Inc. 1,589,700,000
Burns & McDonnell 1,200,000,000
exp 519,000,000
Southland Industries 407,000,000
Cannon Design 231,000,000

Table 2: This table shows the top 10 firms by gross annual revenue. AECOM Technology and URS Corp. were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the amount of revenue they brought in for HVAC engineering work. Courtesy: Consulting-Specifying Engineer

MEP Giants also indicated that they evenly split their time between new construction and retrofit/renovation, each coming in at 41%. Rounding out the projects are commissioning or retro-commissioning (8%); maintenance, repair, and operations (7%); and other (3%). For a more in-depth report on commissioning, read the October 2012 issue on the Commissioning Giants.

Several opportunities are open to MEP Giants outside the United States and North America while the U.S.-based construction market lags (see Figure 3). For example, 41% of firms are providing engineering services in Asia, including China, India, and Japan. Other areas of growth include the Middle East (39% of firm are providing services), Europe (30%), Caribbean (26%), and South America (25%). Less than 1 in 10 firms is offering engineering services in Africa right now.

When it comes to environmental engineering, the number of environmental engineers is holding steady, while the number of U.S. Green Building Council LEED projects decreased slightly from 2365 in 2011 to 2214 in 2012. On the other hand, the number of projects submitted in 2012 to the U.S. EPA Energy Star Buildings Label program jumped from 312 to 414.

The 100 firms listed here don’t handle all aspects of engineering. Many subcontract specialty services, including: acoustics (64%), computational fluid dynamics modeling (25%), security system design (24%), and construction management (22%).

Employment numbers

The 2012 MEP Giants firms employ more than 55,000 engineers in the United States and Canada, up from 49,500 engineers in 2011. Engineers in the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection fields accounted for nearly 18,000 engineers, a slight increase over last year. According to research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 125,000 mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineers in the United States. The number of LEED Accredited Professionals in the MEP Giants data continues to rise, with 7548 LEED APs appearing in the 2012 data, an increase of about 2300 professionals over last year.

Figure 4 shows the breakdown of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineers employed by the 2012 MEP Giants. Note that 90% of the more than 18,000 engineers employed by these firms are either mechanical or electrical engineers; only 6% are plumbing engineers and 4% are fire protection engineers. In addition to these four engineering specialties, MEP Giants employ 4628 environmental engineers and boast 12,657 commissioning agents.


Like other businesses, engineering firms keep up with various technologies, especially software and design tools. Nine out of 10 firms use the following software: computer-aided design (CAD), building information modeling (BIM), energy analysis, Revit MEP, and project management and collaboration.

New tools include smartphone apps, with several respondents using technologies offered by product manufacturers or software developers. In 2012, the MEP Giants are using apps in productivity and project management (43%), engineering calculations (34%), and file preview or product catalogs (33%). This is a valuable growth area for product manufacturers and for educators. To gather several of these apps in one place, CSE and its sister publications recently launched Apps for Engineers, available in both the Apple and Android platforms.

Investing in the future of engineering

As the economy improves, engineers are acquiring more work and billing more project hours. Some firms are stretched thinner than ever and are hiring at all levels. While recent graduates lack on-the-job experience, more firms are taking on young engineers and training them to meet the firm’s exacting standards.

In addition, several colleges and universities offer co-ops, which allow students to gain real-world experience while still in school. These co-op programs, along with the boom in quality online education options, are preparing young engineers for their first jobs. Nothing replaces on-the-job experience, but an understanding by both the engineering firm and the employee of the importance of continuous training and improvement, in both technical and nontechnical skills, is a vital component of success.

Recognizing an opportunity to help with this gap in formal engineering education, in October the CSE staff will host its second annual conference to enhance professional development skills. The Career Smart Engineers Conference is designed to meet the needs of engineering managers and staff on topics that generally are not covered by technical conferences, engineering schools, and trade shows. Educational tracks at the conference include training in leadership and management skills, setting career goals, communicating with clients, and developing internal mentor programs. To register for the conference and get more information about the educational sessions, visit www.csemag.com/careersmart.

This conference is held at an opportune time; mentoring and training programs are on the rise at consulting firms. According to the 2012 MEP Giants data, when asked, “What educational and mentoring programs does your firm offer its engineering staff?” the results were as follows. An increase from 2011 numbers is indicated after each item.

  • 99% offer paid membership to societies (increase)
  • 98% offer paid attendance to conferences/trade shows (increase)
  • 95% allow their engineers to attend webcasts during business hours (increase)
  • 94% offer paid training and testing (increase)
  • 90% purchase e-learning courses/materials for their engineers (increase)
  • 84% offer tuition reimbursement (increase)
  • 73% offer informal internal mentoring
  • 71% offer formal mentoring (such as 1:1 pairing).


At the beginning of the year, the Consulting-Specifying Engineer (CSE) staff collected and analyzed data from more than 100 consulting and engineering firms. Some of the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), and fire protection engineering firms submitted their firm’s profile to the CSE staff; however, not all consulting firms were willing or able to participate in this year’s MEP Giants survey.

In 2012, more than 100 engineering firms provided their information for the MEP Giants program, with quite a few newcomers. Because many of these newcomers are relatively large, some old standbys dropped off the bottom of the list and are not represented here. Data and percentages are based on the top 100 companies that responded to the request for information; the results do not fully represent the construction and engineering market as whole. However, with nearly identical information from previous years and more than 100 engineering firms participating this year, we present a qualified look of where the top engineering firms stand in 2012. 

In order for your firm to be considered next year, please send your request to Amara Rozgus. Invitations to the MEP Giants program are sent in January of each year; full company data, annual revenue, and a variety of engineering details are required for consideration.