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8/20/2009
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Army Uses SaaS To Gauge Carbon 'Boot Print'

An expanded pilot program aims to cut costs and gas emissions and increase environmental compliance through use of standardized processes.

In an effort to better manage its environmental impact, the U.S. Army is expanding a pilot program of software as a service that tracks emissions and regulatory compliance.

The trial of Enviance's Enviance System, which began at Fort Carson in Colorado four years ago, is now underway at eight installations and to be rolled out to four more. Within 18 to 24 months, the Army intends to begin deploying an environmental management information system more widely. The Army plans to go through a competitive procurement process for that system.

The Army is measuring a spectrum of emissions at military installations, but doesn't have a standard methodology. Installations were coming up with their own measurement systems, ranging from "calculations done on the back of a cardboard box to integrated IT activity," said Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety and occupational health. Such processes are moving in the direction of databases and other IT systems, but Davis sees a need for more standardization.

The pilot program has already shown the way toward more consistency in environmental reporting and given the Army baseline data for forecasting, but Davis is looking for more, especially in the way of greenhouse gasses. "As we begin to understand and appreciate the benefits of this information technology, we can calculate our greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately our carbon boot print," he said. "I want something we can audit later on, something that's not just a back of an envelope calculation."

As the Army collects more data on air, water, and waste emissions and compliance at its installations, Davis wants to be able to analyze the data to more rapidly assess emissions trends. The goal is to determine ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption and emissions, integrate data from different installations, and accelerate environmental permit renewal processes.

The Army's choice of multi-tenant SaaS for its pilot is notable, as the military has been reluctant to use Web-based systems in other cases, especially with operational data such as on-installation emissions. "The reaction of some of our customers is, 'Oh my gosh, on the Internet?' " John Garing, director of strategic planning at the Defense Information Systems Agency, said in an interview earlier this year. "With the cyber threat that we face, that's a challenge."

Though it has already received SAS 70-2 certification, Enviance will have to go through an arduous cybersecurity certification and accreditation process to meet Department of Defense requirements.

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