Tag Archive for: EPA

Clean Ports & Data Tracking

The US EPA’s Clean Ports Program offers support for emissions reduction initiatives as port-related environmental challenges increase.

What do DMRs and EDDs have in common that pains us?

DMR-EDD-Graphic-EIM-software-locus-federal-state-municipality-labs-data

Almost everyone has run into Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) and Electronic Data Deliverables (EDDs) when managing and reporting environmental data. And almost everyone hates them. So, what do these things have in common? They should all be the same, yet they are all different with a wide range of variations.   

For EDDs, every data system (Federal, State and Commercial) requires a different format for data submittal. Some want you to manually fill in an online form, some want a CSV file in a specific format, and some want XML files, also in various formats. Analytical laboratories have to produce and maintain a wide range of formats from their LIMs systems to meet the demands of the different receiving systems, and commercial data systems have to produce a wide range of exports to go to various agencies. Even agencies like the EPA don’t have a single uniform regulatory export format for all the various regions. And basically, this is all the very same analytical laboratory data, just delivered in multiple formats, all of which require configuration and maintenance by dedicated IT professionals.  

Many EDDs are submitted as a single flat file (one row equates to one record), but the number of columns and different data rules. However, state-specific formats can have other more complicated formats. One prime example is California’s Electronic Deliverable Format (EDF) which can require 3 or 5 files that contain various information parsed out into different record sets. The records in the different files can have one-to-many or many-to-many relationships.   

DMRs are another area of constant challenge and frustration. The EPA tried to provide a uniform submittal process with NetDMR, but it failed to work when individual states or local cities were the responsible agency vs the EPA. So not only are there format submittal variations, but there is also a wide variation in how DMR parameter limits are calculated and reported. Yes, receiving waters will vary by location and concerns for the constituents of the discharge, but it would be a huge step forward to have a set of consistent rules to apply to all DMRs.   

The lack of uniform parameter codes is also another source of frustration. Most commercial data systems and laboratory LIMS systems rely on the uniform Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers to identify a parameter. These codes are used worldwide and commonly accepted. DMRs typically require the more obscure STORET codes (see example below) used by older EPA data systems

StoretCodes-DMR-EDD

For all these reasons, DMRs and EDDs are much disliked by anyone managing environmental data for a living. Both processes would benefit from a uniform set of standards and a historical data update to streamline data management and reporting for all parties. However, just as with cars, Locus knows how to help you manage your EDDs and DMRs, just as a mechanic can fix different auto makes/models. 

 

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    How to Prepare for EPA’s Latest UCMR 5 Guidelines

    Attention all water providers: the EPA’s UCMR 5 list includes 30 contaminants (29 PFAS and lithium) that both small and large water systems have to test for and report. Can your current environmental solution handle it?

    Locus EIM environmental software can handle new chemicals and analyses seamlessly. Both the standard Locus EIM configuration and the Locus EIM Water configuration (specially tailored to water utilities) are built with ever-changing regulations in mind.

    We’ve put together some helpful background and tips for water providers preparing for UCMR 5 monitoring.

    What water providers need to know

    • The fifth and latest list (UCMR 5) was published on March 11, 2021, and includes 30 new chemical contaminants that must be monitored between 2023 and 2025 using specified analytical methods.
    • SDWA now requires that UCMR include all large PWSs (serving >10,000 people), all PWSs serving between 3,300 and 10,000 people, and a representative sample of PWSs serving fewer than 3,300 people.
    • Large systems must pay for their own testing, and US EPA will pay for analytical costs for small systems.
    • Labs must receive EPA UCMR approval to conduct analyses on UCMR 5 contaminants.

    EPA UCMR 5 Infographic

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    What’s the UCMR and why are some contaminants unregulated?

    In 1996, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act with the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR). Under this new rule, US EPA can require water providers to monitor and collect data for contaminants that may be in drinking water but don’t have any health-based standards set (yet) under the SDWA.

    More than 150,000 public water systems are subject to the SDWA regulations. US EPA, states, tribes, water systems, and the public all work together to protect the water supply from an ever-growing list of contaminants.

    However, under the UCMR, US EPA is restricted to issuing a new list every five years of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by water providers.

    This helps reduce the burden on water providers, since monitoring and testing for the existing long list of regulated contaminants already requires a significant investment of time and resources.

    Throughout the course of this monitoring, US EPA can determine whether the contaminants need to be officially enforced— but this would require regulatory action, routed through the normal legislative process.

    Tips for managing UCMR in Locus EIM logo

    • DO use EIM’s Sample Planning module to set your sample collection schedule ahead of time, as requirements vary and are on specific schedules
    • DO take advantage of EIM’s sample program features to track and manage UCMR data, or consider using a dedicated location group to track results, keeping them separate and easy to find for CCR reporting.
    • DON’T worry about adding in new analytical parameters in advance. With EIM’s EDD loader, you can automatically add them when the data arrive from the laboratory.

    Contact your Locus Account Manager for help setting up your EIM database in advance of your sampling schedule, and we’ll make sure you’re equipped for UCMR 5!

    Not yet a customer? Send us a quick note to schedule a call or a demo to find out how Locus software can completely streamline your water sampling and reporting.

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      ESG Software

      ESG Reporting has Become a Business Requirement

      In today’s world, organizations must measure and report their environmental performance and adherence to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles. Stakeholders, including regulators, investors, customers, rating agencies, research analysts, NGOs, and the public, are all starting to evaluate non-financial criteria in addition to companies’ financial health and performance. Companies also must comply with EHS regulations in the jurisdictions in which they operate. While most environmental regulations have been around for half a century, the gathering and reporting of sustainability, CSR, and ESG data is relatively new and is becoming an essential part of corporate annual reports.

      Companies are increasingly discovering that data-driven ESG reporting has gone from a “nice to have” to a business requirement. But it’s challenging to keep up with such reporting when a company’s data is in spreadsheets or numerous unconnected silo applications. Companies suffer when their domain experts and others rely on manual and outdated processes to accomplish ever-increasing reporting requirements.Locus ESG Reporting Software

      It appears imminent that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will in near future regulate ESG disclosure as a requirement by using some kind of universal reporting framework.

      Wouldn’t it be nice to have a single enterprise and cloud-based software system to perform all EHS, ESG, and CSR reporting from a single software platform? That is what this article is about.

      Sustainability vs ESG

      Until recently, it was common to refer to sustainability and ESG interchangeably. But over time, their meanings have grown apart. Sustainability can mean many different things, depending on the discussion context, whereas ESG has become the preferred term for capital markets and has frequently appeared in the headlines. The transition from sustainability to ESG performance indicates a maturation of business practices leading to more precise measurements of a company’s performance, its impact on the environment, and the risk it carries for investors when there is a low environmental performance or spotty compliance with EHS regulations. As a result, companies need to improve the way they collect and track metrics for ESG reporting.

      Holistic Approach

      To compare companies relative to their impacts on the planet’s climate or well-being, one must take a holistic approach that includes many factors. Among those to consider when assigning a score to a company are:

      • The magnitude and quality of its overall and coupled emissions to natural media
      • The efficiency of its operations in water and energy usage
      • Carbon footprint
      • Recycling, waste management, treatment, and disposal operations
      • The transparency and impacts of its supply chains

      This holistic approach requires new, integrated, and interactive software tools. Such software, equivalent to the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that made its appearance in the early nineties, should provide complex tracking of all kinds of emissions linked to company-owned assets and services in real-time (Scope 1 emissions). It should also include emissions attributable to its supply chain, known as Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions. Old ERP software applications integrate the processes needed to run a company in a single system: planning, purchasing inventory, sales, marketing, finance, and human resources. However, they do not typically integrate any technical information or activity related to emissions, waste, climate, environmental compliance, etc. Never mind that much of the ERP software in the market today is obsolete, running on the outdated technology of the seventies and eighties, and hard to integrate with anything.

      The traditional approach of bolting-on another application to an existing software infrastructure is not the road to go down concerning ESG data collection and to report. Emissions tracking, sustainability, and other environmentally related verticals are typically “heavier” and more resource-intensive than antiquated ERP systems can handle without significant investment. Many legacy ERP systems, caving in under their weight, are hugely and unnecessarily complicated and are slowly being deprecated. New, cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies hold more promise as they allow for the fast deployment and easy integration and sharing with third-party applications, suppliers, consultants, and even regulators. One such example is the Locus Platform or only LP. It is a SaaS that automates data collection, management, and reporting. It is of financial-grade, auditable, available, and actionable 24/7 from anywhere. This platform integrates EHS compliance and ESG reporting applications under a single system of record, giving users all necessary tools to optimize their compliance, sustainability management, and reporting.

      All-in-one solution for Sustainability, EHS Compliance, and ESG Reporting

      To kill two birds with one stone! Or perhaps a friendlier version for bird-lovers is a German version, “mit einer Klappe zwei Fliegen schlagen” – which means to kill two flies with one swat. Or kill two mosquitoes with one slap! This English language idiom is not to be taken literally but instead refers to a single activity or action that accomplishes two (or more) goals or tasks. And that is precisely what any advanced EHS/ESG software should do.

      Over the last twenty or so years, companies have spent considerable resources (in both time and money) buying and installing such EHS compliance-related verticals as permit management, waste, incident reporting, water quality, air emissions, greenhouse gases (GHG), sustainability, and so on.

      More than one acquisition is often needed to cover their reporting needs, resulting in an assortment of tools that may or may not be compatible with one another.

      Locus Platform Sustainability

      As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, a new acronym, ESG, has recently shot to prominence. C-level executives are asking their EHS managers a question “Do we need more software to manage our ESG reporting? Smart companies should not rush and start searching Google for “ESG Software.” Instead, they should take a hard look at what they have on EHS compliance and sustainability management and augment it with ESG reporting. After all, everything that needs reporting or is worth reporting under the ESG acronym probably already exists and is hidden in their EHS compliance software, provided they selected the right one. Companies that have implemented integrated EHS compliance and sustainability management systems may already have most of the ESG data they need to report within their existing applications. If they do not, or if they have a “mutual fund” portfolio of EHS software already installed in unconnected silo applications, this is the time to clean house and switch to a unified reporting platform that integrates EHS and ESG into a single system of record and reporting. Companies that head down this path would not just be “killing two birds” but more: they would lower their costs, meet their new reporting needs, gain a better understanding of their environmental impacts, and potentially enhance their ESG reputation.

      Locus Platform

      Locus specifically built its configurable Locus Platform to unify many current and future applications on a single SaaS platform. The LP offers a wide range of features and functionality to power sustainability measurement, management, and reporting across the entire corporation. But it also provides a launching pad for EHS-related and unrelated apps that are interoperable and share relevant information, thus avoiding any double input. Among its features are the following:

      • It offers Integrated IoT streaming of data from sensors, smart meters, mobile phones, or any physical device with an IP address.
      • It is AI-ready and Blockchain-ready to help with data analyses.
      • It offers built-in workflows and rules.
      • It has robust business analytics tools and powerful reporting engines.
      • It has a fully integrated GIS system.
      • It has a pre-built library of entities and modules that allows users to quickly assemble all new applications without software developers’ help.

      While EHS compliance applications are more comprehensive and dive deeper into the root causes of contamination and emissions, ESG reporting is much less complicated and requires fewer data to report and less scrutiny of such data. For example, federal and state standards such as Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) require detailed water quality reporting, requiring companies to prove that their releases fall within allowable quantities (flow volume) and that chemicals in discharge samples do not exceed regulatory limits for the chemicals of concern. Consequently, the software to manage water quality for EHS reporting needs to provide automated tools to prove that: samples were collected correctly, sample holding time was not exceeded, the receiving laboratory tested samples using proper protocols, lab equipment, etc. Labs also must maintain calibration logs for equipment used in testing, testing details, and so forth.

      None of these QC results and associated metadata are necessary for ESG reporting under voluntary reporting protocols such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), The Climate Registry (TCR), or GRESB, the leading ESG benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments. Those protocols mainly require information to be assembled on volumes (quantities) of clean water used, water sources, and contaminated water discharge volumes. They may also include some identification of chemicals in releases but with no details and no testing protocols required. The GRI 303 standard on water and effluents, for example, requires companies to collect information on water use from withdrawal to consumption and discharge and to report on associated impacts on people and ecosystems, including at a local level. This standard enables investors to assess a company’s overall exposure to water risk, as it addresses the whole supply chain.

      Locus GHG Exports

      There are plenty of overlaps in this undertaking. Smart software like the Locus Platform can help avoid any double input between EHS compliance data and ESG reporting. For example, once inputted, facility information is instantly available to all apps, whether the final output of the app is for EHS or ESG reporting. If a spill incident is created and recorded in the EHS Incident App, another app for waste or groundwater contamination can track and manage that spill’s consequential emissions. Even a small spill could become costly if the spill creates long-lasting contamination of soil and groundwater below it. Reporting for spill under EHS compliance regulations is very different from reporting for ESG, yet the two can use the same database. Examples like this are numerous.

      Locus continuously adds new features to its Locus Platform to expand EHS, Sustainability, and ESG interoperability and avoid and minimize data’s double input. Companies need a single system of record to house their sustainability data, EHS Compliance, and ultimately report ESG information across multiple reporting standards. Locus’ ESG SaaS delivers in this regard. Moreover, it can grow with customers’ needs thanks to its off-the-shelf configurability.

      In short, the Locus Platform is an all-in-one sustainability management software tool that helps companies streamline data collection, improve data quality, benchmark performance, and communicate more effectively with internal and external stakeholders. Locus’s software automates collecting, reducing, and managing data to monitor and track critical metrics around EHS, CSR, and ESG performance. Once the data is in the Locus Platform, the software creates ESG, sustainability, and other reports adhering to multiple reporting standards to improve communications with stakeholders and show greater transparency.

      Software Tools for Reporting to Multiple Regulatory or Voluntary Bodies

      Many large companies must report to various regulatory or voluntary bodies. A company’s software of choice should support all the major reporting requirements to avoid double input or separate calculations for some jurisdictions. This is particularly true for GHG reporting.

      When selecting its software system of record for EHS and ESG reporting, a company should strive to “enter once, report many times.” The gold standard is to have a system configured to report to multiple agencies from a single dataset. Before selecting software, companies should review their reporting requirements to see if their software handles them. Essential reporting requirements include state or federal regulations, internal CSR, and ESG based on whatever standard their organization adheres to, such as CDP, GRI, or more recent World Economic Forum (WEF) attempt to standardize many voluntary standards.

      Companies also must consider export formats. For example, when selecting a GHG management software, the company must ensure their software of choice includes exports to XML, a standard format for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) reporting, and an option for reporting to other agencies. Having such outputs easily generated from the software will save time and money during the reporting season. The XML report generation capability allows facilities to directly upload their GHG data instead of completing the complex web forms found in the EPA Electronic Greenhouse Gas Reporting Tool (e-GGRT) and CARB reporting worksheets (Cal e-GGRT).

      Locus provides direct XML exports to the GHG application in its Locus Platform software. Locus is the only software vendor that is an approved GHG verifier by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) under AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Since the program’s inception, Locus has performed more GHG verifications than any other company and learned much by observing GHG reporting practices at many companies. As a result, Locus has prioritized enhancing its GHG software to make it easier for customers to manage GHG emission inventory tracking and reporting requirements. Locus’ GHG application is fully integrated with compliance tracking, asset management, and IoT automation (including remote sensing). This ability to generate XML reports further streamlines customers’ report submission process to the EPA and CARB.

      Locus Platform XML export

      For example, data entry for EPA and CARB is consolidated in the GHG application, eliminating the need to maintain separate agency spreadsheets and software. This supports robust trend tracking and reporting, reducing data entry, reporting time, and error opportunities. For many greenhouse gas subparts, including Subparts C, D, W, and NN, the software automatically generates XML reports. These can be easily configured for any greenhouse gas industry segment.

      From our experience, many of our customers have experienced frustration with the speed and difficulty of entering their data into the state and federal GHG reporting tools. The Locus Platform XML reporting tool lets customers bypass those clumsy interfaces completely. This saves time, helps companies avoid transcription errors, and ensures consistency with GHG data submitted to multiple reporting programs. As more and more regulatory and voluntary programs embrace automated report submittal through the XML format, Locus continues to expand this functionality to simplify reporting for our customers.

      Conclusions

      ESG reporting and EHS compliance are inherently cross-functional and coupled activities. Managing them together rather than separately is better. Locus built its platform on a highly secure, scalable, configurable, and efficient multi-tenant software platform. The traditional approaches to using a separate app or a spreadsheet for EHS compliance, sustainability management, or ESG reporting were ripe for digital transformation to a single platform of record. This is the main reason that we built the Locus Platform from scratch to take advantage of the latest cloud technologies and flexible and domain-driven reporting requirements.

      Quality of data and standard protocols remain one of the biggest challenges to evaluating companies’ ESG performance. Such data are only credible if they come from the existing sources of EHS compliance data that are much more scrutinized and verified by regulators. Any potential conflict between two sets of the same data can spell disaster for the reporting entity. The perceived value of sustainable investments and practices is inevitably linked to data accuracy, consistency, and reproducibility.

      The Locus Platform empowers companies to gain a holistic view of their sustainability performance by providing the means for them to assemble and report their EHS and ESG data from within a single system. Sustainability managers need comprehensive digital tools and real-time, AI-driven insights to keep up with the latest ESG disclosure requirements, trends, and stakeholder requests for information. Whether an organization is just getting started with sustainability initiatives or doing it for a while, Locus Technologies combined EHS and ESG software, explicitly tailored for multi-jurisdictional and multi-media reporting, can help companies make better and faster decisions and reduce the reporting cycle time. By quickly transforming corporate EHS compliance to ESG reporting, companies can improve their ESG score while lowering operational risks and costs. Locus software breaks down silos and provides a stable platform to work collaboratively with diverse teams of experts across the customer organization, its consultants, and its suppliers.

      Contact us to learn more and get a quote on Locus ESG solutions

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        Top 10 Enhancements to Locus Environmental Software in 2019

        Let’s look back on the most exciting new features and changes made in EIM, Locus’ environmental data management software, during 2019!

        1. Migration to AWS Cloud

        In August, Locus migrated EIM into the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. EIM already had superior security, reliability, and performance in the Locus Cloud. The move to AWS improves on those metrics and allows Locus to leverage AWS specific tools that handle big data, blockchain, machine learning, and data analytics. Furthermore, AWS is scalable, which means EIM can better handle demand during peak usage periods. The move to AWS helps ensure that EIM remains the world’s leading water quality management software.

        Infographic: 6 Benefits of EHS on AWS

        2. SSO Login

        EIM now supports Single Sign-On (SSO), allowing users to access EIM using their corporate authentication provider. SSO is a popular security mechanism for many corporations. With SSO, one single login allows access to multiple applications, which simplifies username and password management and reduces the number of potential targets for malicious hacking of user credentials. Using SSO with EIM requires a one-time configuration to allow EIM to communicate with a customer’s SSO provider.

        Locus Single Sign On (SSO)

        3. GIS+ Data Callouts

        The Locus GIS+ solution now supports creating data callouts, which are location-specific crosstab reports listing analytical, groundwater, or field readings. A user first creates a data callout template using a drag-and-drop interface in the EIM enhanced formatted reports module. The template can include rules to control data formatting (for example, action limit exceedances can be shown in red text). When the user runs the template for a specific set of locations, EIM displays the callouts in the GIS+ as a set of draggable boxes. The user can finalize the callouts in the GIS+ print view and then send the resulting map to a printer or export the map to a PDF file.

        Locus GIS+ Data Callouts

        4. EIM One

        For customers who don’t require the full EIM package, Locus now offers EIM One, which gives the ability to customize EIM functionality. Every EIM One purchase comes with EIM core features: locations and samples; analytical and field results; EDD loading; basic data views; and action limit exceedance reports. The customer can then purchase add-on packages to get just the functionality desired–for example a customer with DMR requirements may purchase the Subsurface and Regulatory Reporting packages. EIM One provides customers with a range of pricing options to get the perfect fit for their data management needs.

        EIM One Packages

        5. IoT data support

        EIM can now be configured to accept data from IoT (internet of things) streaming devices. Locus must do a one-time connection between EIM and the customer’s IoT streaming application; the customer can then use EIM to define the devices and data fields to capture. EIM can accept data from multiple devices every second. Once the data values are in EIM, they can be exported using the Expert Query tool. From there, values can be shown on the GIS+ map if desired. The GIS+ Time Slider automation feature has also been updated to handle IoT data by allowing the time slider to use hours, minutes, and seconds as the time intervals.

        Locus IoT Data

        6. CIWQS and NCDEQ exports

        EIM currently supports several dozen regulatory agency export formats. In 2019, Locus added two more exports for CIWQS (California Integrated Water Quality System Project) and the NCDEQ (North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality). Locus continues to add more formats so customers can meet their reporting requirements.

        CIWQS and NCDEQ Exports

        7. Improved Water Utility reporting

        EIM is the world’s leading water quality management software, and has been used since 1999 by many Fortune 500 companies, water utilities, and the US Government. Locus added two key reports to EIM for Water in 2019 to further support water quality reporting. The first new report returns chlorine averages, ranges, and counts. The second new report supports the US EPA’s Lead and Copper rule and includes a charting option. Locus will continue to enhance EIM for Water by releasing the 2019 updates for the Consumer Confidence Report in January 2020.

        Locus Water Utility Reporting

        8. Improved Non-Analytical Views

        Locus continues to upgrade and improve the EIM user interface and user experience. The most noticeable change in 2019 was the overhaul of the Non-analytical Views pages in EIM, which support data exports for locations, samples, field readings, groundwater levels, and subsurface information. Roughly 25 separate pages were combined into one page that supports all these data views. Users are directed through a series of filter selections that culminate in a grid of results. The new page improves usability and provides one centralized place for these data reports. Locus plans to upgrade the Analytical Views in the same way in 2020.

        Non-analytical views in Locus EIM

        9. EIM search box

        To help customers find the correct EIM menu function, Locus added a search box at the top right of EIM. The search box returns any menu items that match the user’s entered search term. In 2020, Locus will expand this search box to return matching help file documents and EDD error help, as well as searches for synonyms of menu items.

        Locus EIM Quick Search

        10. Historical data reporting in EDD loading

        The EIM EDD loader now has a new “View history” option for viewing previously loaded data for the locations and parameters in the EDD. This function lets users put data in the EDD holding table into proper historical context. Users can check for any unexpected increases in parameter concentrations as well as new maximum values for a given location and parameter.

        Historical Data in Locus EIM

        Contact us to see a demo of Locus EIM

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          EPA to set tougher requirements for lead in water

          The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would impose stricter requirements on water utilities to manage lead and copper contamination in drinking water supplies. The EPA said that tackling water pollution is a core duty of the agency.

          The proposed changes, the first affecting lead level in water since 1991, would also give utilities more time to replace lead pipes in their systems. Some environmental groups are not happy with the proposed rule because the change slows by 20 years the timeline for removing aging lead service pipes that could expose children to lead. Lead is a toxin known to harm developing brains. The rule slows down the removal of pipelines where lead levels exceed 15 μg/L to 33 years from the 13 years in the original law.

          The new rule requires water utilities to identify and remove sources of lead when a water sample at faucet exceeds 15 micrograms per liter (μg/L). The EPA said water systems would also have to follow new, improved sampling procedures and adjust sampling sites to better target locations with higher lead levels.

          Health advocates estimate that as many as six million or more lead water lines remain underground in U.S. cities and towns. Additional sampling and monitoring can help to identify affected areas, and ensure the quality of drinking water sources.

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          Blockchain: aggregate emissions reporting

          In the next few years, an opportunity exists to make significant advances in how we monitor and manage environmental emissions to the air, soil, and water, potentially resulting in significant disruptions in current approaches. Currently, industries and commercial establishments monitor their emissions and submit reports on a regular basis, often as frequently as quarterly, to federal and state agencies to demonstrate they are meeting regulatory requirements. However, no one on the generating or receiving end of these data dumps and reports is aggregating these emissions to create a more composite, inclusive picture of emissions across sources or media. The reason is that emissions of different types and to different media are reported to separate regulatory entities that, in general, do not interact or talk to one another. And although there are significant potential benefits to both generators and regulators in reviewing integrated environmental data sets, our traditional methods of storing and sharing this information make such integrations a hugely difficult effort.

          Only by integrating all available data can we begin to (1) assess local, regional, and ultimately the global impacts of these emissions, and (2) identify net improvements to our environmental practices that are only apparent when looking at the combined, interconnected body of collected data. Blockchain enables the integration of these data sets for quick, yet comprehensive “big picture” assessments.

          Blockchain technology is a highly disruptive technology that offers an efficient way of storing records (called blocks) which are linked using cryptography. While still in its infancy, blockchain promises to change the world as we know it, much like the internet did after its introduction in 1991. Today, the technology is most widely associated with digital currencies and money transfers. In time, however, blockchain technology will not only shift the way we use the internet, but it will also revolutionize the global economy and almost all transactional business that relies on an intermediary.

          One Environment, Health, and Safety and Sustainability  (EHS+S) sector well positioned to benefit from blockchain technology is emissions monitoring and reporting. I reported more on the technology and its impact on EHS space here.

          Environmental monitoring current practice

          Presently, companies with emissions monitor these following regulatory requirements, input the resulting data into a database or spreadsheet, perform emissions calculations on the entered readings, and then report the results of these calculations to regulators. The entire focus of this process is to (1) determine whether emissions of a single chemical or chemicals exceed prescribed levels and (2) evaluate the effect of these discharges on the media to which the compounds have been introduced by the polluting industry or other sources. There is no suitable software technology or mechanism to look at aggregate emissions across geographical areas or sectors or how emissions of one type interact with emissions of an entirely different kind. Examining such interactions could be far more critical than monitoring and assessing the impacts on human health and the environment of single parameter emissions to only one media, and may reveal new opportunities for optimizing our EHS+S practices for reduced cost with similar or improved performance.

          Aggregate emissions

          To take a hypothetical scenario, consider the possible consequential damages when two incompatible streams of chemicals or waste mix to create even worse chemicals as a result of their chemical reaction.  EPA has only recently started looking into these type of scenarios. Its Envirofacts databases allow the public to retrieve information from multiple sources of Envirofacts’ System Data relevant to your area of interest. However, each database is a separate silo of information (Figure 1). The next step that ought to be taken is to assess and as needed, report on the possible interaction of incompatible emission sources that are nearby, but are independently monitored and stored in disconnected databases (see Figure 2 below).

          EPA Envirofacts 1

          Figure 1: EPA Envirofacts databases allow the public to retrieve information from multiple sources, but only one source at time and disconnected from each other.

          Most everyone taking prescription medicines comes to understand that interactions between drugs are quite common. Imagine something similar to the interaction of drugs in your body happening on a much larger scale in the environment. One does not have to imagine. EPA recently imposed the highest environmental fine ever at the 2,530-acre Eastern Michaud Flats Contamination Superfund site near Pocatello, Idaho. Two adjacent on-site phosphate ore processing facilities, the FMC Corporation and the J.R. Simplot Company, began operations at the site in the 1940s. The J.R. Simplot facility produces solid and liquid fertilizers using phosphate ore, sulfur, air and natural gas. The FMC plant is North America’s largest producer of elemental phosphorus which is used in a variety of products from cleaning compounds to foods.

          Operations at these plants have independently contaminated both the groundwater and soil with hazardous chemicals. Both plants have received numerous environmental violations, many of which were settled with the EPA. Each of the sites has its environmental ills (and fines), but the more significant environmental problem is a combined regional plume. Everyone knows that acids and metals do not play well together. Sulphuric acid from the J.R. Simplot operation has leaked from surface impoundments into the groundwater and, on its way downstream, has leached all kinds of toxic metals from the FMC site, creating a highly poisonous plume of contaminants. An accurate assessment of the environmental disaster that exists in this area requires that the environmental impact of the two plants be examined in toto. Blockchain-based monitoring technology would allow both the public and regulators to see the resultant subsurface commingled plume and possibly pave the way to a more comprehensive remedy.

          Issues involving contamination of multiple media have also arisen at sites where discharges of volatile organic compounds or VOCs have occurred. In Silicon Valley, where I live, many engineering consultants have made their living chasing plumes of VOC chemicals (e.g., TCE) and then, when deemed appropriate, have installed various groundwater treatment plants tucked in the back of parking lots of companies like Google or HP to ameliorate this contamination. Santa Clara, the central county in Silicon Valley, is home to more Superfund sites than any other county in the United States.

          The process is analogous to rinsing detergent from a sponge. After many rinses, it still seems to have more in it. It is an endless process with little environmental benefit. Has anyone looked at the additional impact of the high energy demand for treatment systems that have minimal effect on improving groundwater, but can contribute significant CO2 equivalents to the atmosphere?

          With blockchain technology, we could simultaneously measure the positive effect of the treatment plant removing contaminants from water and the negative impact that this same plant produces by contributing to the CO2 emissions. Quantities of removed chemicals over time could be plotted in real time vs. CO2 emissions produced resulting from high energy usage of the treatment plant. This would allow companies operating treatment plants and regulators overseeing them to determine at what point in time continued treatment could be harming, not helping the environment. It is these type of analyses that would benefit society and help with the decision to shut down a remediation process when diminishing returns of the treatment system are reached.

          EPA Envirofacts 2

          Figure 2: Interaction of incompatible emission sources is better managed if emissions are aggregated than if independently monitored and stored in disconnected databases.

          How would blockchain technology help in a scenario like this? Chemical removal rate would be tracked in one block (of the chain) and CO2 emissions in another. Owner and regulator would agree on the formula to determine when the treatment process ceases to produce a significant environmental benefit. At this point, the system would be shut down. All of this would be monitored and measured in real time, and more importantly, it would be transparent to the owner, regulator, and the public.

          Emissions measures should be preemptive, not reactive

          When you think about emissions, they are generally (except incidents and accidents)  operating problems that can be managed and optimized before discharges even happen. It is to the benefit of companies to do it this way. Every process that has an exhaust or smokestack for dispersing air emissions or pipelines for discharging liquids to surface receptors or water bodies could be managed to reduce harmful emissions coming out the system regardless of regulatory prescribed permissible levels. As an organization with a legacy environmental site knows, it is far more cost-effective to eliminate the original cause of emission than to spend decades of effort to remediate after the fact.

          Unfortunately, many businesses are currently not genuinely looking at the aggregated data they collect about their emissions, wastewater, and energy use alongside their operational metrics. Current practices for EHS+S data management only allow for very simplistic comparison of normalized indicators between these disparate data sets.  But it would benefit these operators to gather, aggregate and analyze data, and then make better, more cost-effective decisions as part of their risk-management protocols, while still maintaining their environmental compliance requirements. Blockchain technology allows for review of more detailed data when making decisions with aggregated data sources so that managers can look beyond the simple normalized performance indicators. For example, many organizations only review their environmental and sustainability performance on an annual basis, mainly because the current tools to aggregate this data require them to be evaluated on a consistent time frame, and there is a significant investment in bringing all of the relevant data together. But through blockchain technology, the data maintain their connection at every level.  This allows for trend evaluation at other time frames not currently being examined. So if some short-term operational practice causes a spike in emissions, that issue can be identified and resolved immediately, rather than waiting for the end of the year, when the emissions have already happened, and the effect may not even be apparent when averaged out on an annual time frame. Then, even looking beyond the facility or organization, blockchain also allows for data aggregation across industry, region, and country, so that we will be in a better position to forecast the future and assess the viability of different measures to ameliorate the problems confronting us.

          A bigger picture

          There is a growing need for companies to bring together information from their vast disconnected databases, single tenant clouds, and spreadsheets, and then mine the data they collect from these sources. In a decade or so, planet Earth may be a meshed grid of static sensors coupled with movable ones installed on people, animals (yes animals roaming in the wild), transportation devices, and other moving objects to collect data in real time. The conversation about the environmental landscape has evolved drastically over the last 50 years as we continue to understand the extent to which human activity has affected the planet. Companies and society need a collective and holistic understanding of the problems we face.

          The only way to understand the full picture, and in turn to act meaningfully on a global level, is for all individuals and companies to understand the impact of their activities. It’s impossible to mitigate the net risks and effects of these activities on the planet when we have not fully assembled the data to characterize the problem and understand the full picture. Blockchain technology offers the best path forward, making it possible for environmental data be integrated at multiple levels. Any coordinated effort of this magnitude will be years in the making, but every journey starts with a first step. There are two impediments to institute a change like this: technology (until recently, blockchain did not exist) and a government with the initiative to require such technology. Just as was the case with the internet revolution of the nineties, the rate of progress in technology is surpassing politicians’ ability to come to grips with its impact on society.

          So far, there have been no imposed data exchange standards; a prerequisite for a broad data exchange, land for implementation of blockchain technology.  But in the meantime, progressive organizations will want to start taking advantage of this technology to look at their operations and make more informed EHS+S decisions.

          Looking forward with blockchain technology

          Perhaps blockchain technology is not ready for prime time. Some may argue that it creates a secondary problem of additional energy consumption much like water treatment systems described earlier. This is a theme that is advocated by some media outlets and blockchain skeptics who argue that the computer algorithms require significant amounts of electricity to power the servers on which they run. Estimates of blockchain’s soaring energy use are likely overstating the electric power used as the current debate on power consumption is not backed by hard data. When it comes to technology, history has consistently shown that the cost will always decrease, and the impact will still increase over time. It is inevitable that blockchain technology will become more accessible with reduced infrastructure over the next few years.

          Blockchain IoT Decentralization

          Blockchain could completely change how companies run their businesses and present new opportunities far beyond sustainability and environmental emissions management.

          We are living in a world where companies and governmental agencies are not able to comprehensively analyze  EHS+S information efficiently. Using blockchain technology will allow organizations to track, store, rollup, gain insights into, and also share their data with other interested parties as needed. It has the potential to put accurate and verifiable information into the hands of companies and regulating agencies more quickly. To make better progress on how we use EHS+S information, regulators will need to find ways that reward positive and proactive behaviors. We are not going to solve these issues by fining emitters until they behave. Blockchain technology can help us move us away from the punitive approach and toward a more collaborative one by assisting companies to reduce their emissions while lowering their operating costs at the same time. Social sharing elements may also play a role here, giving companies that benefit from the fruits of blockchain technology a valuable marketing and PR advantage over those who do not adopt this technology, and as such, lag behind in their progress on environmental issues.

          Locus is ready for e-Manifest

          EPA is establishing a national system for tracking hazardous waste shipments electronically. This system, known as “e-Manifest,” will modernize the nation’s cradle-to-grave hazardous waste tracking process. EPA is on schedule to launch e-Manifest on June 30, 2018.


          e-Manifest infographic

          Download the latest fact sheets for e-Manifest stakeholders.
          These fact sheets provide an overview of the e-Manifest program and the impacts it will have on each stakeholder. Each fact sheet outlines basic information about the e-Manifest system, how the specific stakeholder will be impacted, and what actions they need to take to use the e-Manifest system.

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            Locus is here to help simplify your fenceline regulatory reporting!

            US EPA fenceline monitoring data collection officially begins on January 30, 2018. We have put together an infographic to show you some of the ways Locus EIM can help you streamline, consolidate, and take control of all your important environmental information using maps, data reports, formatted outputs, charts, and more!

            Locus Fenceline Monitoring - Infographic

            Click image for larger version  

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            Celebrating 55 years of GIS-based EHS data insights

            GIS Day was established in 1999 to showcase the power and flexibility of geographical information systems (GIS).  In celebration of the 55th birthday of GIS, we’ve compiled a brief history of the evolution of this powerful technology, with a special focus on how it can be used in EHS applications to make environmental management easier.

            Not only is GIS more powerful than ever before—it is also vastly more accessible.  Anyone with Internet access can create custom maps based on publicly available data, from real-time traffic conditions to environmental risk factors, to local shark sightings. Software developers, even those at small companies or startups, now have access to APIs for integrating advanced GIS tools and functionality into their programs.

            Origins of GIS

            Before you can understand where GIS is today, it helps to know how it started out. This year is the 55th anniversary of the work done by Roger Tomlinson in 1962 with the Canada Land Inventory. We consider this the birth of GIS, and Mr. Tomlinson has been called the “father of GIS”.

            The original GIS used computers and digitalization to “unlock” the data in paper maps, making it possible to combine data from multiple maps and perform spatial analyses. For example, in the image shown here from the Canada Land Inventory GIS, farms in Ontario are classified by revenue to map farm performance.

            An early GIS system from the Canada Land Inventory, in Data for Decisions, 1967

            An early GIS system from the Canada Land Inventory, in Data for Decisions, 1967
            Photo: Mbfleming. “Data for Decisions (1967).” YouTube, 12 Aug. 2007, https://youtu.be/ryWcq7Dv4jE.
              Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

            In 1969, Jack Dangermond founded Esri, which became the maker of, arguably, the world’s most popular commercial GIS software. Esri’s first commercial GIS, ARC/INFO, was released in 1982, and the simpler ArcView program followed in 1991. Many of today’s most skilled GIS software developers can trace their roots back to this original GIS software.

            Back then, GIS work required expensive software packages installed on personal computers or large mainframe systems. There was no Google Maps; all map data had to be manually loaded into your software. Getting useful data into a GIS usually required extensive file manipulation and expertise in coordinate systems, projections, and geodesy.

            While the government, utility, and resource management sectors used GIS heavily, there was not much consumer or personal use of GIS. Early GIS professionals spent much of their time digitizing paper maps by hand or trying to figure out why the map data loaded into a GIS was not lining up properly with an aerial photo. This may sound familiar to those who have been in the environmental industry for awhile.

            Esri’s ArcView 3.2 for desktop computers (from the 1990s)

            Esri’s ArcView 3.2 for desktop computers (from the 1990s)
            https://map.sdsu.edu/geog583/lecture/Unit-3.htm

            The Google Revolution

            How much has changed since those early days! After the release of OpenStreetMap in 2004, Google Maps and Google Earth in 2005, and Google Street View in 2007, GIS has been on an unstoppable journey—from only being used by dedicated GIS professionals on large computers in specific workplaces, to be accessible to anyone with an internet browser or a smartphone. High-quality map data and images—often the most expensive item in a GIS project in the 1990’s — are now practically free.

            Just think how revolutionary it is that anyone can have instant access to detailed satellite images and road maps of almost anywhere on Earth! Not only can you perform such mundane tasks as finding the fastest route between two cities or locating your favorite coffee shop while on vacation—you can also see live traffic conditions for cities across the globe; view aerial images of countries you have never visited; track waste drums around your facility; and get street level views of exotic places. Back in 1991, such widespread access to free map data would have seemed like something straight out of science fiction.

            Traffic conditions in London, 3:30 pm 10/16/2017, from Google Maps

            Traffic conditions in London, 3:30 pm 10/16/2017, from Google Maps

            South Base Camp, Mount Everest, Google StreetView

            South Base Camp, Mount Everest, Google StreetView

            Mashups in the cloud

            Obviously, the amount of spatial data needed to provide detailed coverage of the entire globe is far too large to be stored on one laptop or phone. Instead, the data is distributed across many servers “in the cloud.” Back in the 1990s, everything for one GIS system (data, processing engine, user interface) needed to be in the same physical place—usually one hard drive or server. Now, thanks to the internet and cloud computing, the data can be separate from the software, creating “distributed” GIS.

            The combination of freely available data with distributed GIS and the power of smart phones has led us to the age of “neogeography”—in which anyone (with some technical knowledge) can contribute to online maps, or host their maps with data relevant to their personal or professional needs. GIS no longer requires expensive software or cartographical expertise; now, even casual users can create maps linking multiple data sources, all in the cloud.

            Google’s MyMaps is an example of a tool for easily making your maps. Maps can range from the playful, such as locations of “Pokemon nests,” to the serious, such as wildfire conditions.

            These online maps can be updated in real time (unlike paper maps) and therefore kept current with actual conditions. Such immediate response is instrumental in emergency management, where conditions can change rapidly, and both first responders and the public need access to the latest data.

            Map showing wildfire and traffic conditions in northern California, 10/16/2017

            Map showing wildfire and traffic conditions in northern California, 10/16/2017
            https://google.org/crisismap/us-wildfires

            Furthermore, software programmers have created online GIS tools that let non-coders create their maps. These tools push the boundaries of distributed GIS even further by putting the processing engine in the cloud with the data. Only the user interface runs locally for a given user. During this period of GIS history, it became easy to create “mashups” for viewing different types of disparate data at once, such as natural hazard risks near offices, pizza stores near one’s neighborhood, EPA Superfund sites near one’s home, property lines, flood plains, landslide vulnerability, and wildfire risk.

            Floodplain data for Buncombe County, NC

            Floodplain data for Buncombe County, NC
            https://buncombe-risk-tool.nemac.org

            Programming GIS with APIs

            Another significant advance in GIS technology is the ability to integrate or include advanced GIS tools and features in other computer programs. Companies such as Google and Esri have provided toolkits (called APIs, or application programming interfaces) that let coders access GIS data and functions inside their programs. While neogeography shows the power of personal maps created by the untrained public, computer programmers can use APIs to create some very sophisticated online GIS tools aimed at specific professionals or the public.

            One example is the publicly-available Intellus application that Locus Technologies developed and hosts for the US Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory. It uses an Esri API and distributed GIS to provide access to aerial images and many decades of environmental monitoring data for the Los Alamos, NM area. Users can make maps showing chemical concentrations near their home or workplace, and they can perform powerful spatial searches (e.g., “find all samples taken within one mile of my house in the last year”). The results can be color-coded based on concentration values to identify “hot spots”.

            Map from Intellus showing Tritium concentrations near a specified location

            Map from Intellus showing Tritium concentrations near a specified location
            https://www.intellusnmdata.com

            Another example of more sophisticated forms of analysis is integration of GIS with environmental databases. Many government facilities and private vendors incorporate GIS with online data systems to let public users evaluate all types of information they find relevant.

            For example, contour lines can be generated on a map showing constant values of groundwater elevation, which is useful for determining water flow below ground. With such powerful spatial tools in the cloud, any facility manager or scientist can easily create and share maps that provide insight into data trends and patterns at their site.

            Groundwater contour map

            Groundwater contour map where each line is a 10 ft. interval, from the Locus EIM system

            Other examples include monitoring air emissions at monitoring sites (like US EPA’s AirData Air Quality Monitors, shown below) and actual stream conditions from the USGS (also shown below).

            Screen capture of air quality data from US EPA AirData GIS app

            Screenshot from US EPA AirData Air Quality Monitors interactive GIS mapping platform, showing Long Beach, California

             

            Screen capture of USGS National Water Information System interactive GIS map tool

            Screen capture of USGS National Water Information System interactive GIS map tool, showing a site in Mountain View, California

            There’s a (map) app for that

            One particularly exciting aspect of GIS today is the ability to use GIS on a smartphone or tablet. The GIS APIs mentioned above usually have versions for mobile devices, as well as for browsers. Programmers have taken advantage of these mobile APIs, along with freely available map data from the cloud, to create apps that seamlessly embed maps into the user experience. By using a smartphone’s ability to pinpoint your current latitude and longitude, these apps can create personalized maps based on your actual location.

            A search in the Apple AppStore for “map” returns thousands of apps with map components. Some of these apps put maps front-and-center for traditional navigation, whether by car (Waze, MapQuest, Google), public transit (New York Subway MTA Map, London Tube Map), or on foot (Runkeeper, Map My Run, AllTrails). Other apps use maps in a supporting role to allow users to find nearby places; for example, banking apps usually have a map to show branches near your current location.

            What’s really exciting are the apps that allow users to enter data themselves via a map interface. For example, HealthMap’s Outbreaks Near Me not only shows reports of disease outbreaks near your location, but it also lets you enter unreported incidents. The GasBuddy app shows the latest gasoline prices and lets you enter in current prices. This “crowdsourcing” feature keeps an app up-to-date by letting its users update the map with the latest conditions as they are happening.

            The Outbreaks Near Me app for phones (left) and the GasBuddy app for tablets (right)

            The Outbreaks Near Me app for phones (left) and the GasBuddy app for tablets (right)

            EHS professionals can further harness the power of GIS using mobile applications.  For example, in the Locus Mobile app for field data collection, users can enter environmental data—such as temperature or pH measurements—from a sampling location, then upload the data back to cloud-based environmental management software for immediate review and analysis. Mobile apps can also support facility compliance audits, track current locations of hazardous waste drums, collect on-scene incident data (complete with photos), and record exact locations for mapping by colleagues back in the office.

            GIS-enabled mobile apps also typically include a map interface for navigating to data collection points and tracking visited locations. Other key features to look for include ad hoc location creation for capturing unplanned data—this lets users create new data collection points “on the fly” simply by clicking on the map.

            Locus Mobile App

            Views of many different mobile app use cases from tracking drums to collecting field data

            A bright future for GIS applications within EHS software

            Where will GIS as a whole go from here? It’s possible that augmented reality, virtual reality, and 3D visualization will continue to expand and become as ubiquitous as the current “2D” maps on browsers and phones. Also, the “internet of things” will surely have a GIS component because every physical “thing” can be tied to a geographical location. Similarly, GIS can play an important role in “big data” by providing the spatial framework for analysis.

            GIS is one of the most effective ways to convey information to a wide range of users, from corporate managers looking at the company’s key metrics to operational personnel looking for incidents across facilities and trying to find trends. It is a highly intuitive data query interface that empowers users to explore the data hidden deep in enterprise EHS databases. The examples presented above are just the tip of the iceberg for the range of possibilities to simplify communication of information and look more broadly across enterprises to identify where real or potential issues lie.

            An EHS software system should have many ways to extract data and information to form insights beyond a few “canned” reports and charts. A spatially-accurate picture can often provide more actionable insight than tables and text. Imagine being able to see spill locations, incident locations, environmental monitoring stations for air quality, wastewater outfalls, central and satellite waste accumulation area locations, and PCB and asbestos equipment and/or storage locations—all visually represented on an actual map of your facility and its surroundings. All these types of maps are invaluable in an enterprise EHS software system and should be a critical item on your checklist when selecting software for your EHS needs.

            Thanks to the GIS Timeline for providing some of the history for this article.


            Locus employee Todd PierceAbout guest blogger— Dr. Todd Pierce, Locus Technologies

            Dr. Pierce manages a team of programmers tasked with development and implementation of Locus’ EIM application, which lets users manage their environmental data in the cloud using Software-as-a-Service technology. Dr. Pierce is also directly responsible for research and development of Locus’ GIS (geographic information systems) and visualization tools for mapping analytical and subsurface data. Dr. Pierce earned his GIS Professional (GISP) certification in 2010.


            [jwplayer mediaid=”16590″]

            Interested in Locus’ GIS solutions?

            Introducing Locus GIS+. All the functionality you love in EIM’s classic Google Maps GIS for environmental management— now integrated with the powerful cartography, interoperability, & smart-mapping features of Esri’s ArcGIS platform!

            Learn more about GIS+

             

            Tag Archive for: EPA

            Locus Introduces Visual Calculation Engine for ESG Reporting

            MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., 1 March 2022Locus Technologies, the leading EHS Compliance, and ESG software provider, today announced the industry-first visual calculation engine for ESG reporting. Locus’s visual calculation engine helps companies easily set up and view their entire ESG data collection and reporting program, enabling full transparency throughout the entire process.  Through an interactive branching interface, ESG professionals can quickly identify areas where to focus efforts to improve their ESG performance. Companies that set goals in line with the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) can use Locus’s ESG software to track progress to reach those goals in a transparent and credible manner. 

            Having a visual calculation engine reduces the burden, time, and potential inaccuracies associated with ESG reporting. The environmental portion of ESG reports includes complex calculations, factors, and numerous data inputs. The visual calculation engine goes beyond GHG (Greenhouse Gas) and addresses any calculations that are part of ESG reporting such as waste generation, resources, and water consumption. Through the visual hierarchical tree, companies can easily get to the sources of any raw data, factors, and formulas used to generate reported ESG metrics. 

            With an increased focus on ESG reporting and transparency, ensuring accurate reporting is more important than ever. Locus’s award-winning ESG data tracking, analysis, reporting, and visualization software aims at helping organizations plan, implement, and accelerate net-zero strategies. Choosing the right calculation engine plays a crucial part in remaining compliant with rapidly evolving requirements and regulations. In the US, the SEC’s proposed rules expected this year will likely require public companies to report emissions from their operations, energy usage, and resources they consume. The SEC requirements are being driven by the fact that many investors are considering ESG disclosures in their investment decisions. With those requirements, there is an expectation that these reports will be subject to some form of auditing to ensure accuracy.  Locus’ accredited GHG verifier designed the visual calculation engine to support this impending requirement. It provides a single consolidated view of all input data, referenced factors, and calculations that went into the ESG report. Through the calculation engine, raw data can be traced back to the user input, integrated external database, utility API, supplier attestation, or any other data source. 

            Locus’s visual calculation engine supports simultaneous calculations using multiple methods so that users can input data once and report to federal, state, and voluntary reporting programs according to each proper protocol. Once raw data is in the Locus ESG app, reporting can be performed to several different reporting standards such as U.S. EPA Mandatory Reporting Rule, European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) or GRI, SASB, CDP, DJSI, GRESB, and DNSH.  

            “Locus’ visual calculation engine builds upon over a decade of experience performing verification of ESG data for many companies. Coupled with Locus SaaS Platform it provides all necessary tools to simplify data management, reporting, and visualization of necessary carbon and other calculations in real-time. It provides full transparency for calculations, which become part of an organization’s ESG reporting. As financial-grade audits are applied to ESG reporting, this becomes a critical feature for organizations needing a reliable ESG reporting tool.,” said Wes Hawthorne, President of Locus. 

            Locus Technologies introduces new calculation engine for GHG emissions inventories

            The Locus GHG calculation engine is fully integrated with the dynamic Locus Platform and will automate emissions calculations for large enterprises.

            MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., 20 November 2015 — Locus Technologies (Locus), the leader in cloud-based environmental compliance and sustainability management software, introduces an all-new calculation engine to its newest platform to redefine how companies organize, manage, and calculate their greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories. The Locus Platform offers a highly configurable, user-friendly interface to fully meet individual organizations’ environmental management needs.

            With an increased focus on the role that GHG emissions play in climate change, ensuring that companies’ emissions are reported accurately is more important than ever. GHG emissions reports are coming under increased scrutiny from regulators, stakeholders, verifiers, and financial auditors. Choosing the right calculation engine plays a critical part in remaining compliant with these rapidly evolving requirements and regulations.

            Locus GHG calculation engine eases compliance burdens for GHG tracking

            GHG inventories may be the result of mandatory state, regional, or national reporting programs, such as California Air Resource Board (AB32), U.S. EPA Mandatory Reporting Rule, or European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Organizations need a GHG calculation engine that can calculate GHGs automatically and accurately from all emission-producing activities at all of their facilities anywhere in the world. The new Locus calculation engine supports simultaneous calculations using multiple methods so that users can input data once and report to federal, state, and voluntary reporting programs according to each proper protocol.

            “The requirements and procedures for GHG reporting are varied, complex, and rapidly evolving. To ensure compliance, companies need a calculation engine that can handle complex equations using appropriate emission factors, conversion factors, and calculation methodologies for each reporting program. The right calculation engine can reduce the stress, time, and potential inaccuracies found in home-grown accounting methods,” said Neno Duplan, President and CEO of Locus.

            New GHG calculation engine removes reporting inaccuracies

            As a leading accredited GHG verification company in California, Locus observed challenges that many companies experience with GHG inventory calculation, coupled with the gross inadequacy of tools previously available in the market. Informed by the verification of hundreds of inventories, Locus developed the new calculation engine.

            “Besides spreadsheets, many calculation engines are proprietary to software vendors and are not transparent. For GHG calculations to pass audits and meet cap & trade requirements, transparency is absolutely required. Some of these ’black box‘ calculation tools have not been sufficiently stress-tested in the market and are generating errors that cause enterprises to fail their GHG verifications. Locus’ calculation engine addresses these deficiencies and capitalizes on the architecture of the highly scalable Locus platform. All calculations are viewable and traceable through the tool to the original data inputs,” said J. Wesley Hawthorne, Locus’ Senior Vice President of Operations and an accredited GHG verifier.

            When evaluating carbon management software with built-in calculation engines, companies must ensure that users are able to define both the calculation rules and display of calculated data for the purpose of reporting to various regulators. By giving end users the power to view, analyze, and make changes to analytic model data, Locus helps companies emphasize the transparency of the process and ensure that calculations are correct and that the company meets all verification requirements.

            “We listened to industry users and created a configurable calculation engine that is easy to use, dynamically driven, transparent, provides reproducible calculations, and is easy to verify. This calculation engine, along with the Locus Platform, will improve companies’ data collection, analysis, and most importantly, reporting capabilities,” added Duplan.

            Locus will conduct live demonstrations of the Locus Platform and calculation engine at the Locus booth at the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) 2016 Sustainability Software and Data Management Conference from March 15-16, 2016 in Tampa, FL.