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IT enablement of a carbon management system

Ninad G Dhanorkar | Oct. 12, 2011
Carbon emissions, climate change and environmental sustainability have now become unavoidable concerns for mankind.

Carbon emissions, climate change and environmental sustainability have now become unavoidable concerns for mankind.

A Carbon Management System includes a whole gamut of activities and processes. In fact it goes much beyond implementation of a software tool. Broadly the business processes of CMS can be divided into five areas including assessment of carbon, effective reporting, flawless compliance, monitoring & control of carbons and commercialisation of carbons.

Implementation of a CMS entails a full-fledged project management approach.

Before implementing the CMS, companies need to clearly define the objectives and purpose of the programme. These aspects have a lot of bearing on the implementation methodology, the selection of IT infrastructure, the measurement tool and reporting capabilities.

The next step involves assessing the gases in the scope which for the CMS are the GHGs, also called Kyoto gases.

Identification of each and every emission sources is fundamental to accurate reporting. Here the sources of emissions are classified into three categories namely direct emissions caused by direct combustions in units, vehicles, equipment etc, indirect emissions calculated for the purchase of heat, electricity and steam and indirect emissions calculated for the purchased material, product use, outsourced activities, contractor owned vehicles, waste  disposal & employee travel.

Quantification of emission is one of the most challenging aspects of emission management. There are two ways of measuring the emissions such as direct measurement which is a relatively more accurate method but is limited to stationery units. The second is derived measurement where the emissions are calculated based on templates provided by the regulator.

Information technology (IT) plays a crucial role in enabling the entire gamut of carbon management, including the cap-and-trade programme. For companies implementing a CMS, IT fulfills the need for providing a comprehensive & unified solution to support data collection, analysis, and management of carbon in an automated, standardised, and cost-efficient way. The challenge remains in extracting the complete data from the discrete sources and integrating it correctly to the enterprise/reporting level.  However, many IT vendors now have come out with highly integrated solutions for this niche business area.

 A basic Emission Management IT tool will have the  essential features such  as: Web-based  access  & ease  of data entry,  hierarchies & create scenarios, task management & compliance  reporting, extendable database integration with  diverse external sources, calculation engine, tickets for notification and user-defined access.

However, product vendors are offering more evolved tools which have the enhanced ability to forecast emissions, MIS and documentation, central libraries for reference, track legal and environmental requirement, industry-specific templates, support third party auditing, establish goal-based performance KPI, facilitates participation in cap-&-trade programme. IT product vendors like SAP, IHS, and Enviance etc have come out with applications specifically for this niche business area.


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