Spectra energy`s EPASS achieves efficiencies tracking GHG data with integrated EHS platform


Courtesy of IHS Markit

As the cleanest burning conventional fuel, natural gas has an important and growing role to play in a low carbon 21st century energy economy. Spectra Energy is one of North America's premier natural gas infrastructure companies and dedicated to advancing the environmental attributes of this clean, efficient and domestically abundant resource. The company's leaders recognize that building sustainable value for its stakeholders means more than delivering superior economic results. That's why they promised, in their 2007-2008 Sustainability Report to 'integrate environmental performance improvement into our overall business plans… [by] minimizing our environmental footprint, taking a progressive approach to climate change and championing energy conservation.'

Spectra Energy's ability to deliver on this promise will depend in part on its EHS data management system called EPASS [Environmental Performance and Safety System]. EPASS, according to the Sustainability Report, 'standardize[s] processes for collecting and managing essential environmental, health and safety, security and audit data while facilitating knowledge sharing across our organization….We also developed methodologies for the calculation, management and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions consistent with guidelines published by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute.'

'We knew we needed a way to manage enterprise-wide EHS information more effectively,' said Colin Toole, EPASS' Project Manager. 'Our company is subject to regulations from 29 jurisdictions across the US and Canada. Complying with the multitude of differing EHS requirements was proving to be an ever-increasing challenge. We needed a single integrated EHS platform to measure and manage multi-media emissions as well as support audit, tasking and other compliance functions. That's why we chose Essential Suite from ESS.'

Essential Suite's air emissions module enabled Spectra Energy to address urgent needs for GHG emissions management and reporting. The EHS team uses Essential Air to track GHG emissions by source type such as combustion or vented emissions and specific pollutant such as CO2 or methane. They can calculate GHG emissions for the individual sources and roll up results from the facility level to the corporate level for sustainability reporting.

'We track GHG emissions the same way we do criteria air contaminate emissions such as NO, CO and VOCs,' said David Felcman, Director of EHS Governance U.S. and EPASS team leader for air emissions management. 'Previously, our air emissions data was managed in hundreds of spreadsheets across the organization.

These spreadsheets were developed and maintained by multiple engineers and professionals across our organization who were all gathering and calculating emission inventories differently. The process was so complex that it was difficult to assure accuracy, accountability, and transparency of the results. By rolling up a multitude of spreadsheets, you lose the ability to see exactly where emissions are occurring. Even worse, if one of the spreadsheet owners leaves the company we are at risk of losing knowledge of how the calculations were developed or whether compliance tasks were getting done.'

'EPASS, with Essential Suite, has enabled us to simplify many of our work processes and reduce the risks,' Mr. Felcman continued. 'Now we calculate emissions at an individual source level and have transparency right down to the root source so we can quickly and easily go back and trace exactly where that data came from. We can retrieve emissions for an individual piece of equipment including the calculation methodology the emission factor and the source of the emissions factor. All of that data is available – by source, site, facility or enterprise-wide – providing us with real transparency and accountability.'

Today, Spectra Energy tracks thousands of data points or sources on an annual basis. For many of these sources, information is collected on a monthly basis. In fact, the system has been configured to easily allow weekly or even daily calculations if the need arises.

'One of the potential values we see with ESS is the ability to track our GHG emissions on a near real time basis said Mr. Felcman. 'Under cap and trade, having the ability to know at any given time what your emissions are is invaluable. It will give us the ability to track our emissions liability versus the market cost of allowances on a near real time basis. This will allow us to manage any future allowance cost in a much more efficient manner than if we were calculating our emissions on only an annual basis. Essential Suite also provides us with a tight secure auditable process, which will be imperative under any eventual cap-and-trade system.'

In the meantime, Mr. Felcman said, 'Our goal is to continue eliminating data collection redundancy. We only want to collect and enter data one time. Instead of manually re-entering data that has already been collected in another spreadsheet or database, we set up data import processes to save ourselves hundreds of hours of extra work. For example, since most of our air emission calculations are fuel based and we have existing internal data systems that measure and record fuel usage, we integrated EPASS with those fuel measurement and data collection systems to save time and effort as well as to ensure accuracy.'

'We also recognized that our internal customers needed and expected a simple efficient way to retrieve and view emission results. To meet their expectation we developed standard reports utilizing Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services. MSSR gives us the ability to establish report subscriptions based on internal customer needs. For example, if our Accounting or Operations staff needs certain data, they simply subscribe to the report they need. We find ESS' solution to be highly configurable and easy to integrate with other systems.'

'As environmental regulatory requirements grow, we must continue to ensure full compliance,' concludes Colin Toole. 'EPASS (with Essential Suite) is enabling our team to manage information more effectively than ever – collecting, aggregating and sharing EHS data enterprise-wide as well as breaking it down for in-depth analysis and workflow improvements – in order to get more done in less time. That's especially important now when resources are tight due to a difficult economy... but sustainability challenges like GHG emissions can't wait.'

The Challenge

  • Compliance requirements are growing and new GHG regulations are coming
  • Multitude of spreadsheets/calculations across enterprise threaten consistency
  • Greater data accuracy, transparency and sustainability is needed

The Solution

Essential Suite® including

  • Essential Air™

Also licensed:

  • Essential Audit™
    Essential Chemical Inventory™
  • Essential Compliance Manager™
  • Essential Emergency™
  • Essential FEMS™
  • Essential Incident™
  • Essential Industrial Hygiene™
  • Essential MSDS Manager™
  • Essential Task Manager™
  • Essential Waste™
  • Essential Water™

The Results

  • Thousands of air emission data points, formerly tracked in hundreds of spreadsheets, now in one system.
  • Hundreds of hours saved by reducing redundant data entry.
  • Raised efficiency and productivity, enabling existing staff to complete more compliance tasks, resulting in reduced consultant support.
  • Reduced risks and maximize trade values for cap-and-trade procedures.

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