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GHD: Leveraging innovation for sustainable transformation




Brett Roberts, GHD’s global market leader in the digital environment, will provide a preview of his presentation at the Environmental Analyst Global Business Summit in Denver this August.

May 20, 2022 / Digital, Global, North America, Science and Technology, Sustainability

GHD’s Brett Roberts will participate in a panel discussion at the Global Business Summit 2022 (August 23-24, Denver) to leverage digital and technology innovations to reach sustainability goals. He shares some insights before the event.

EA: Digital technology is recognized as a key component of the transition to sustainability. About the interaction of the two trends: In your experience, what is the most important way digital technology is influencing a company’s sustainability plans and the Net Zero Journey?

BR: Digital technology, both for businesses and for society, has the power to significantly accelerate the path to a more sustainable and low-carbon future. And in general, the environment and sustainability industries lag behind industries like finance and manufacturing in adopting digital technology.

But at the heart of the transition to sustainability is data. Digital technologies and software platforms enable the acceleration of sustainability or net-zero programs through data collection, management, tracking, and reporting automation. Dataset integration and the application of digital technology are strengthening decision making and accelerating progress towards sustainable outcomes.

For example, if you want to integrate operational data with emissions data, water usage data, or waste generation data, apply artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to optimize operations and emit emissions. You can reduce the amount of water used, or the amount of waste generated. Evaluate different operational scenarios using advanced predictive analytical models to predict future sustainability outcomes and enable more informed and sustainable decision making.

EA: Conversely, how do sustainability and climate change demands catalyze the adoption, innovation, or development of digital technologies that might not have happened otherwise?

BR: Most companies have set net zero or carbon reduction goals. Now they need to develop strategies to reach those goals and track their progress. These decarbonization strategies may include one or a combination of four different approaches: (1) Optimize or change operations to make them more efficient and reduce emissions. (2) CapEx project to reduce emissions. (3) Sale, disposal or abolition of high carbon footprint assets. (4) Acquisition of carbon offset. Each of these strategies facilitates the adoption of digital innovation and technology, along with initial environmental baseline settings, progress tracking and reporting.

We continue to develop and develop digital technologies in collaboration with our clients and partners to improve the evaluation or implementation of these four strategies. For example, our advanced analytical models enable oil and gas clients to optimize upstream operations and reduce flaring and emissions. Automating greenhouse gases (GHG) allows you to automatically calculate and generate GHG reports using operational and emission data. We have developed a digital tool called ZEVO that combines fleet and service evaluations to evaluate fleet decarbonization scenarios. GHD’s Gaia solution also tracks and analyzes the client’s environment and carbon dioxide emissions to enable a remediation portfolio.

EA: What situations or industry sectors can digital technology have the greatest impact on achieving sustainability goals, and what are the driving forces behind it?

BR: Industries with the greatest environmental impact, such as the oil and gas industry, can benefit most in the short term by adopting digital technology. All industries can benefit from digital technology to absolutely accelerate the achievement of their sustainability goals. But especially with oil and gas, companies are rapidly adopting innovative technologies because of the need to quickly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. For example, the industry can benefit from digital technology to advance remote detection and monitoring of methane emissions from aircraft and satellites.

The main impetus behind the adoption of digital technology is simple. This means you need to track your progress quickly, more efficiently, and on a regular basis. For example, the outdated approach of measuring and reporting GHG emissions annually in a “manual” or “spreadsheet” fashion is no longer a way to assess progress and coordinate strategies to reach decarbonization goals. Not enough.

EA: On the contrary, what do you think is the biggest challenge in implementing digital technology to achieve sustainability and climate change goals?

BR: The introduction of digital technology presents three important interrelated challenges.

(Me). Data Availability: Enterprises often do not have relevant data available or centralized to support the easy and efficient implementation of technologies that deliver maximum value, such as AI and ML. For example, if you are considering reducing emissions and optimizing operations, all available data needed to make informed decisions may be in different spreadsheets or software systems. there is. Data is often inconsistent or inconsistent across different facilities and assets.

(Ii). Financing Availability: Existing budgets tend not to consider implementing these technologies for collecting, centralizing, or cleansing data. These technologies can be leveraged for higher value solutions. Generally, all digital solutions require upfront investment for implementation. It also provides a strong ROI from the short to medium term, increasing efficiency. Companies understand business cases and ROIs, but the annual budget cycle may not be able to make the investment needed to centralize data, for example.

(Iii). Data Transparency and Sharing: As mentioned earlier, digital technology is already difficult to implement as companies seek to solve sustainability challenges within financial constraints. Instead, imagine if businesses and municipalities are willing to share insights on how to optimize operations to increase data transparency and reduce their environmental impact. If we can improve the way we share lessons learned through data transparency, we can significantly reduce costs and accelerate progress towards sustainability goals not just for individual businesses and municipalities, but for industries and countries as a whole. I can.

EA: In your experience, how does digital transformation affect the cost (or cost savings) of sustainability programs? And to what extent does this affect a company’s sustainability and digital strategy?

BR: Usually, embarking on a digital transformation journey and investing in and implementing innovative solutions can significantly improve efficiency and reduce costs. The true value of digital technology lies not only in efficiency savings, but also in empowered sustainable outcomes and secondary benefits.

For example, implementing an ESG software platform enables tracking and reporting of efficiencies while creating new and improved business practices and behaviors across the organization. This means more savings and improved results for the company.

Take GHD Navigator as an example. Our integrated software solutions can be used to manage, automate, and streamline key aspects of waste tracking activities and track progress towards waste reduction goals. Ultimately, the platform promotes more sustainable practices for resource reuse or recycling, and reduced waste disposal, leading to cost savings across the organization. When implementing a similar digital solution, the impact on cost savings is exponential. In one area of ​​the sustainability journey, instead of seeing the cost rewards directly associated with digital solutions, you can see a number of secondary savings that will set more foundations in the future.

EA: In your opinion, what are the digital technologies that are likely to have the most disruptive impact on sustainability and the ESG sector in the coming years, and why?

BR: That’s beautiful. Digital technology. Environment and Sustainability The opportunities to apply new technologies to the entire industry are endless. However, if you choose one, applying AI and ML to large, interconnected datasets can lead to large-scale, positive confusion over the next few years. When implemented, AI and ML do the following:

Enables operational optimization and reduces environmental impact. It provides predictive analytics for different scenarios to improve sustainable decision making. Provides early warning of non-compliance or harmful environmental impacts. Improve planning and decision making for future sustainable investments.

To be honest, the list of benefits continues. And at the heart of these and other use cases, you can see the interconnected relationships of large and sometimes non-traditional datasets. You can also use AI and ML to generate these datasets through document mining and web scraping.

GHD uses predictive analytics models and applies AI and ML to many aspects of the environmental industry, including remediation spaces. We helped our clients optimize their repair portfolio to reduce long-term debt and close their sites faster at lower cost. Clients to databases containing over 15,000 site data, including general and non-traditional data, by using AI and ML to mine data from documents published on regulatory websites. Provided to. Using a predictive analytics model, this data is used to predict potential third-party legal claims, group and identify high-risk sites, and be the fastest and least for each site to achieve closure. You can identify your cost strategy and help your clients prioritize their spending. Reduce long-term debt with minimal cost across your portfolio.

Two other technologies that deserve prestigious mention are Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and blockchain. AI and ML are currently being applied across the industry, but in a limited sense, RPA and blockchain are rarely applied. RPA has an important opportunity to bring efficiency by automating many of the manual, repetitive, labor-intensive tasks that are performed. Blockchain provides an opportunity to improve the traceability and transparency of data, decision making, and reporting. For example, imagine that all GHG reports are done via the blockchain, emissions can be traced back to individual assets, and companies can benchmark other assets to identify areas for improvement. please.

Continue the conversation at the Environmental Analyst Global Business Summit (August 23-24, Denver). There, Brett will participate in a panel discussion exploring the role of digital and technology innovation in sustainable transformation.


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