Environmental Protection

CenterPoint Energy uses its EMS to prepare air emissions inventory reports for the eight states where its facilities are located.

CenterPoint Energy Wins IHS SPECTRUM Excellence Award

An enterprise-level Environmental Management System significantly enhanced its ability to maintain compliance with government regulations, as well as voluntary sustainability reporting initiatives.

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implemented its Mandatory Reporting Rule (MRR) in 2009, companies with asset-intensive operations faced a monumental challenge. MRR required companies to collect and calculate vast amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data, much of it from previously unregulated sources.

CenterPoint Energy rose to the challenge by launching an information management program that transformed its regulatory challenge into opportunities to improve efficiency and drive Operational Excellence. In recognition of its achievement, IHS recognized CenterPoint Energy's achievements with a 2013 IHS SPECTRUM Excellence Award. The IHS SPECTRUM Excellence Awards honor outstanding leadership in the use of advanced information systems and best practices to achieve environmental, health and safety (EHS), and sustainability business goals.

The cornerstone of CenterPoint Energy's Greenhouse Gas program is an enterprise-level Environmental Management System (EMS) from IHS that significantly enhanced its ability to maintain compliance with government regulations, as well as voluntary sustainability reporting initiatives. "This is the first year we are fulfilling all of our GHG reporting requirements straight out of our EMS system, and it is a huge success," said William Manwaring, manager of CenterPoint Energy's GHG program and project manager of the EMS implementation. "We are reducing two to three months of work -- the entire process of gathering the data, doing QA/QC, running the reports and getting it over into the EPA's system for MRR -- down into a two-week period. That is a tremendous time savings. Now we are taking the same approach to address other air emissions regulations."

Gains in Efficiency, Data Integrity
CenterPoint Energy uses its EMS to prepare air emissions inventory reports for the eight states where its facilities are located. The team members are running their Emissions Inventory Questionnaire calculations both manually and in the EMS so they can cross-check and verify the results. Once they have confirmed that everything is running properly, Manwaring estimates that it will achieve another two to three months in total time savings by eliminating the need to use hundreds of spreadsheets and manual calculations. CenterPoint Energy is also improving its data integrity with mobile devices by getting the actual system of record parameters entered into the EMS from a single point of entry, either from an electronic flow meter or from the person in the field who is directly entering the hours data in their maintenance management system.

Today, CenterPoint Energy manages compliance more easily and effectively company-wide by using the new system (IHS Environmental Performance Solution®) to catalog equipment, applicable permits, or regulations and associated tasks that drive compliance requirements. It provides clear visibility to all project stakeholders -- task owners, team members, and supervisors -- so users can easily track progress against program goals and see when tasks are completed or when corrective actions are required.

Before the EMS implementation, CenterPoint Energy managers tracked tasks for permit requirements with spreadsheets and in email scheduling functionality, but that proved to be inefficient. Now, the company can manage compliance more easily and effectively because the EMS catalogs equipment, applicable permits or regulations, and associated tasks that drive compliance requirements.

It has created key performance indicators that provide alerts if an engine is reaching an operating hour threshold that would require an emissions test. This helps CenterPoint Energy be more proactive, addressing potential issues before they put it at risk of non-compliance.

"Environmental regulations are always changing, and the EMS helps us stay up to date so we can meet our responsibilities," said Manwaring.

Company leaders recognize that environmental performance is an increasingly critical business issue. As a result, they now include GHG metrics from the EMS in the company's annual report and submit them to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

About the Author

Jeffrey Ladner, IHS Senior Director, EHS and Sustainability, is responsible for managing the product roadmap for IHS enterprise software solutions that support efficient and accurate environmental, health, safety (EHS), product stewardship, risk management, and sustainability reporting. He has nearly two decades of experience directing the development of enterprise information management systems that efficiently manage environmental, energy and carbon management, risk management, product stewardship, and corporate responsibility solutions. He has established a strong reputation for enabling corporations to develop and execute sustainability strategies through a holistic, integrated view of operational performance. Among his many professional achievements, he led a team effort to develop one of the industry's first enterprise-wide multimedia systems for EHS accounting and reporting.

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