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Environmental Reporting Pressures Greater than Ever

Environmental managers are becoming responsible for reporting ever-larger amounts of data, which they need to dissect in more and more ways, according to participants in an Environmental Leader webinar.

Speaking to participants in yesterday’s webinar, Energy and Environmental Management: Best Practices for 2011 and Beyond, Hara’s Michel Gelobter said companies increasingly must bring together huge amounts of data.

Gelobter says environmental monitoring used to just focus on signficiant events or relatively confined measures of pollution. “In the old days [people were concerned about] parts per million, or particulate matter, or random leakages,” said Gelobter, who is Hara’s chief green officer.

Now, he says, companies need to measure outputs in the millions of tons, bringing together information from all aspects of their operations and from all corners of the globe. They also have to track an ever-expanding variety of environmental measures, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, waste output, and water use.

At the same time, companies need to be able to cut across data in a number of different ways, and many need the flexibility to drill down in incredible detail. EMD Millipore, a division of German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA, has set up a Hara environmental management system that allows it to look at data by country, region, campus, and – for the first time – by specific building. The system covers a variety of metrics, from emissions to waste, at 51 sites in 12 countries and three regions.

The constant monitoring means data is available for many more applications than simply producing annual reports, according to energy engineer Christopher Famolare. EMD Millipore’s internal energy team uses the tool for its biweekly web conference, when the team reviews monthly utility trends and consumption of gas, oil and water.

Even companies that have had major environmental successes can do more by looking at their data in new ways, Gelobter said.

EMD Millipore’s sustainability programs manager, Johanna Jobin, outlined the key lessons her company has learned from installing environmental management software. Some of the highlights:

  • There will never be one system that will perfectly meet all your needs. Find the software that best meets your needs, and see if the vendor will work with you to improve their tools.
  • Configuring your new system will take time – don’t underestimate that. Once the system is configured, do an initial review to make sure it’s running the way you want and the data entry is user friendly. Training staff in the new system takes time too.
  • Make sure you have dedicated internal support. Designate people who will serve as administrators with full control over the system. It doesn’t have to be their full-time job.
  • Request help from the vendor if you need to.
  • Moving to a new software system is always a culture change – spend the time to communicate with your staff.

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar, Energy and Environmental Management: Best Practices for 2011 and Beyond.

Michel Gelobter
Michel Gelobter is Chief Green Officer at Hara and one of the country’s leading sustainability and climate strategists, having worked for more than 25 years in business, policy, research, and advocacy on energy, environmental, and social policy. Michel is Founder and Chairman of the Board of Cooler, a for-profit social venture whose mission is to connect every consumer purchase to a solution for global warming. Prior to Cooler, Michel was President of Redefining Progress, the think-tank that helped design the world’s most aggressive climate legislation which was signed into California law in August of 2006. Michel also founded and directed the Environmental Policy Program at Columbia University, worked as a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow as well as for the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, was Director of Environmental Quality for the City of New York, and served as an Assistant Commissioner for its Department of Environmental Protection. He is also a board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ceres.
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