Webinar Recap: Getting Your EHS Data Off the Ground

Amy Hou  |  August 30, 2019  |  Energy & Sustainability  

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EHS data access is a tough yet necessary problem to solve. But one mistake many energy teams make is to think that their job is done once they’ve solved it. Collecting data is just the tip of the iceberg; it’s all the ongoing management and reporting of data that makes up the bulk of the work.

This week on Environmental Leader, Urjanet and SustainIt hosted a discussion on the steps and factors that successfully get an organization’s EHS data ready for liftoff – and keep it in flight. Missed it live? Catch up on the key points below.

 

Part I: Planning and onboarding EHS data

Let’s say you have a way to get access to the data you need. Have you ensured that it’s the most comprehensive, cost-effective option? How will you get the data integrated into your systems? There’s an almost overwhelming number of choices out there, including:

Data collection sources

  • Manual
  • EDI
  • OCR
  • Utility data automation
  • EHS software system

Data delivery channels

  • Spreadsheet
  • SQL
  • Dashboard
  • EHS software system

 

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to have a plan in place – even if the plan goes awry sometimes. With utility data alone, the data delivered can come with unexpected fields, changes, and dates. In those cases, it’s often beneficial to look into options like custom integration services that take the stress off your hands.

That said, it’s certainly not impossible to onboard energy data successfully. A U.S.-based healthcare organization started out a few years ago with no formal energy program, and by now has achieved more than 20 percent energy reduction per square foot. How did they do it? Slowly. Their facilities management senior specialist says the best way to implement new data sources is to:

Start slowly and build your process before you go all in.

And that’s exactly what his team did. They started by automating utility invoice collection, getting bill data delivered directly into ENERGY STAR Portfolio ManagerⓇ. They tested it with a few facilities first before expanding across their portfolio.

Then, they went one level deeper with energy analysis by incorporating utility interval data. Interval data allowed them to see and make decisions based off energy usage metrics from the prior day, rather than waiting on a monthly bill. Now, their flagship hospital saves $4,000 a day just from proactive energy management.

 

Check out our eBook to learn more about going beyond the bill with interval data.

 

When you have a plan in place for where you’re going to get data from, how you’re going to onboard it into your systems, and what you’re ultimately trying to achieve, you’ll see real results. However, that’s just the first piece of the puzzle: once you have data onboarded, now you have to manage it.

Part II: Ongoing data management

EHS data management is a massive responsibility, which begs the question: Who should be responsible for it? At the healthcare organization, one Certified Energy Manager was known across the team as the “owner” of utility data. Otherwise, without clear divisions of roles and responsibilities, any issues that come up are at risk of going unsolved, or worse – unnoticed.

SustainIt breaks it down into four major roles:

  • The data contributor – in other words, the data source, whether it’s another department, a meter, or a third-party system
  • The data validator – someone who knows what the data should look like, and therefore whether it’s accurate
  • The data analyst – the team (internal or external) that analyzes the data to discover patterns and action items
  • The data reporter – often split across several departments, between corporate reporting, procurement, accounting, and operations

 

Some teams or team members may be responsible for multiple roles, but as long as each responsibility is properly accounted for, the team should be in good shape. For instance, the data contributor should provide validation checks to audit data quality before delivery. On the other end, the data validator and potentially the data analyst should also frequently audit that the data is delivered in the timeline, format, and accuracy level that meets their standards.

Part III: Reporting and analyzing

So, you have your EHS data collected from the right sources and you’re using the most efficient processes to do so. Your data has also been thoroughly checked, and it’s gotten into the hands of those who need to use it. The final step, then, is to get the reporting right. SustainIt suggests some best practices:

  • Frequent reviews of data – Systematizing the analysis process helps you be more proactive at spotting errors, and it also boosts your chances of success at fixing those errors.
  • Setting baselines – Baselines use historical data to report on progress in an understandable and transparent way. You should use different baselines for different locations or countries, instead of generalizing across your portfolio.
  • Ranking dashboards – These provide a simple way to understand performance against a certain KPI. For example: energy intensity normalized by the number of employees at a site. Ranking dashboards can help you spot outliers, as well as encourage healthy employee competition between sites.
  • Automated reporting – Automation can save days and days of valuable time. If you ensure each data point will automatically be reported to the relevant stakeholders, you minimize mistakes from human error, and you keep your data within a single source of truth.

 

With these best practices in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a successful EHS data implementation. If you’re looking for more guidance, reach out to our data experts for a free consultation.

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.


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