Software as service helps Army monitor environmental compliance

The Army plans to rely on Internet-based software monitoring and reporting tools as a major component in its campaign to monitor, record and reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and other materials harmful to the environment.

As part of that effort, the Army recently implemented its first Internet-based, real-time greenhouse gas reporting and management system at Fort Carson, Colo. Plans call for expansion of the system soon to Fort Benning, Ga., and beyond, according to the Army and executives at software vendor Enviance, the provider of the system.

The Army meets federal regulations that require it to have a system for monitoring and recording environmental compliance at all of its installations, although those systems are far from standardized and vary widely in their degree of automation, according to Tad Davis, Army deputy assistant secretary of environmental, safety and occupational health.

As the Army begins to adopt a standardized approach using the software-as-a-service model, installations will have the benefit of 'an automated system that allows them to compile and track a whole host of data [involving] everything from water to waste water to air to solid hazardous waste [and] disposal issues,' Davis said. The Army is required to monitor those parameters and others, and, in most instances, must report to a variety of regulatory agencies including state authorities on its performance in each area. 'Having an automated system with storage capabilities and a database is extremely beneficial to the people on the ground,' Davis said.

In addition, the uniformity of an Internet-based solution will help the Army assess a variety of data collected Army-wide for its annual toxic release inventories and required reports to Congress, Davis added. The tools will also help the Army avoid potential fines and penalties by issuing reminders about when reports and permit renewal applications are due.

The Enviance System deployed at Fort Carson monitors and tracks greenhouse gas emissions from internal facilities, military vehicles and remote activities associated with base activities, measures the base's compliance with greenhouse gas reduction initiatives, manages associated tasks, and prepares reports on all base activities affecting its carbon dioxide footprint.

Enviance developed the system in conjunction with the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment, and it is the first environmental compliance tool the Army has deployed based on a software-as-a-service model, according to Larry Goldenhersh, Enviance's president and chief executive officer. The fact that the software is Internet-based means that the Army will be able to easily deploy it at additional installations, including a deployment planned soon at Fort Benning, Goldenhersh said.

The Army now uses automated environmental reporting systems at Fort Carson, Fort Benning, Fort Detrick, Md., Anniston Army Depot, Ala., and National Guard facilities in California, West Virginia and Hawaii, Davis said.

After appropriating $2.5 million for the initiative in fiscal year 2005, $2 million in 2006 and $2.4 million in 2008, Congress has not yet determined the level of funds for fiscal year 2009. The Army has asked for $2 million in fiscal year 2010 and $2 million in 2011 to continue funding the systems, Davis said. \

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