Category Archives: Environmental Audit

The importance of equipment nameplates in enhancing transparency in climate reporting

Nordfrost_TW-81

I am excited to host my first technical committee meeting on IEC 60335-2-40. It is in technical committees such as these where the initial steps for manufacturers are made before finally casting  into steel the claims for their equipment. Often these claims contains information on the greenhouse gas emissions from the equipment during operations based on test and performance validation results.

I  guess I have issued over a hundred audit findings related to equipment nameplates. Nonconformities ranging from content mismatch with environmental permits to physical damage to the nameplate during routine maintenance (painting, etching or losing its entirety).

With climate change as a pressing issue of global importance, I believe that its also high time for us to give a high regard for equipment nameplates. Who reads nameplates anyway?

GHG verifiers are trained to read equipment nameplates with an assumption that the nameplate rating is the best record of measure of the performance of the equipment. However, nameplate ratings are still estimates based on the accuracy and precision of the performance validation tests and a certain degree of uncertainty is still involved in the nameplate rating. Moreover, a weak test validation system can allow manufacturers to make false claims, to the point of permanently etching it on the nameplate, but global good practice and intense conformity assessments make this practice outright dishonesty.

Every now and then, I would randomly look into appliance nameplates more than the other marks such as marketing stickers or even regulatory labels. Nameplates are a good ballpark estimate of the carbon footprint of the equipment.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Environmental Impact Assessment, GHG Mitigation Effort, Greenwash, Random

Its not always what it CEMS.

20170308_075211What could be the objective of this coal-fired power plant for publishing its weekly air emission data in a nationally circulated newspaper? I find it quite strange and they even have to put it on the front page which calls for much public attention.  Given the nice green graphics, of course they do want to gain positive feedback about their emissions profile.

However, being the outlier in the population, with training and education on these matters, the first reaction from me is of course….”greenwashing”. In the first place, there is nothing exemplary or extraordinary about these air emission data.  It is very likely that the other coal fired power plants within the vicinity such as the ones in Zambales or Pangasinan have the same emissions profile and they also monitor their emissions daily through an integrated measurement and monitoring device known as the Continuous Emission Monitoring System or CEMS.

The CEMS is a mandatory legal requirement as specified in the rules and regulations under Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of the Philippines. How come the Bataan plant has to publish an inforgraphic about its own emission? How come the other coal fired power plants don’t?  Maybe the other coal fired power plants are not insecure or they don’t have the public relations team that were previously employed in a beer company.

After the Clean Air Act was enacted more than 17 years ago, thermal power plants have come a long way. I have seen the CEMS profile of natural gas plants and its way better than these figures. Prior to the entry of coal, almost two thirds of the power supplied in the Luzon Grid was natural gas, but with the trend towards coal plants that are “cheap and dirty “to operate.

Remember in school when we would show our fingernails to the teachers to check whether the fingernails are clean and trimmed? To a certain degree, showing your emissions data is just like showing the tips of your fingers. You could not see how clean and efficient your entire body is by the tips of your fingers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Management System, Greenwash, Pollution Control, Sustainability

Cool Greenwashing

lg-g3-380

Which planet are you trying to save? I believe we only have one earth.

My last post in my other blog Fast Food Greenwash was posted last October 7, 2012.  I haven’t seemed to access that blog for a quite a while since I haven’t had any work related to the fast food industry or they say “quick-serve restaurant” for quite a while.  Thankfully, I only eat fast food during emergency like when stuck in Metro Manila traffic and starving as hell  in my 3-hour commute.

2009 was a long time ago when I started blogging about Greenwashing and now that its 2007, things are getting worse and worse. Given the age of climate change mitigation actions, and the complicated rules of calculating GHG emissions, companies are playing around with  the carbon footprint and stamping it in their products and marketing materials. Anyway, I will write something about it separately.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to work for a GIZ  project on Green Cooling. The programme has been around for quite a while, since the enforcement of the Montreal Protocol on the control of substances that deplete the Ozone Layer more than two decades ago. Honestly, I have to admit, prior to this engagement, I have not connected Ozone Depletion with Climate Change even if  I have claimed expertise in environmental management.

ODS have always been treated independently from GHGs.  A “True or False”  question in my GHG verification course in 2011 even asked if Ozone Depletion causes Climate Change, of course the answer was false. Simply, Ozone Depletion is caused by Ultraviolet Radiation entering the atmosphere while Climate Change is caused by the trapping of heat from Infrared Radiation.  Who cares about UV and IR Radiation when all we see is White Light? What is true considering human activities was that prior solutions to ozone depletion have contributed to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a truly complicated concept that has led to well… Greenwashing, particularly in refrigeration and air conditioning. Ok sell us the fridge and A/C, just get that “Eco-Friendly” sticker off.

Honestly, when I buy an A/C, I consider the price.  I don’t really look at the nameplate. But if you really want to be “ecofriendly” look at the nameplate. Why? Because that’s where you will find the rated capacity in terms of energy consumption and the refrigerant type.  Looking at the nameplate is not equivalent to looking at the bright and colorful stickers manufacturers place that are colorful and bright. Your attention is directed upon their “Greenwashing”.

The fact is, the Montreal Protocol has set the cap for ODS refrigerants and parties are directed to replace it with ODS alternatives….and these ODS alternatives are  high GWP GHGs….why did this happen?  Because, Ozone Depletion have always been treated independent of Climate Change?  except in 2016 when the Kigali Amendments to the Montreal Protocol was agreed upon.

Below are four nameplates of various cooling appliances, can you guess which one is the most eco-friendly?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, GHG Mitigation Effort, Greenwash, Random, Sustainability

When you love something

Today,  the Paris Agreements which calls for global climate action is set into force. Does anyone among the people I truly love understand what this is all about? Even the President of the Philippines does not even understand the context of the Paris Agreements and he has to rely on his advisers on how to go about this global pact.

Hopefully the trip of …Sec.. Gina Lopez…hello call me… to COP 22 on Marrakesh become fruitful. I hope she understands the technical protocols involved. I hope she’s not there for the side events only, but most probably, she will be in one of those. The Philippines has a quite a number of official delegates to COP 22 compared to the Kigali Meetings of the Montreal Protocol, we only have one official delegate, the program manager of the National Ozone Unit. There is so much irony, so much oxymoron, and so much pun. So much, that some things I just don’t understand. Like, love?

Why am I talking about love at this point in time? Its so out of place, out of context. Its not February, way far from Valentines. Way far from my wedding anniversary and mother’s birthday. What if something you really love was taken away from you, because they think its not important, even if you have spend most of your working life to achieve it?  If you read my ABOUT page, all I wanted to be was a GHG Verifier, did I even put Lead Verifier?  Let me check. So why am I not one? At this point I could never truly understand, I don’t fully understand, and I could not comprehend the turn of events since the end of 2013.

Based on the internal rules of my former designated operational entity,  a prerequisite, is a Lead Auditor Qualification in ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. I admit, I’m such a terrible auditor for ISO 9001, I needed more training, supervision, more exposure to product design and development. I was not provided any competence intervention related to my critical competency lapses , my DOE a dear (female dear with antlers), does not really care about me since 2013…they have shown a genuine distaste of me. Hope, they get preyed on by wolves.

That’s only partial, a Lead Auditor qualification in ISO 14001 will do. On 27 November 2013, I got an acceptable partial evaluation for ISO 14001. The next step…..I left after three (3) years of inaction. Why are they so mean and ugly? Why do they want to cause me so much pain and anguish? Why can stupid human beings be so evil? I could not say anything good about them at all. You people have caused me so much pain, you did your best to destroy me personally and take away something very important and valuable.

Tonight,the Paris Agreements is in force… I have to move on. Articles 2, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15 will require GHG verification in the future. The Philippines keep on saying there is no local expertise and we have to rely on foreign assistance…and they get jet lag after travelling half-way around the world, we can be truly mean sometimes.

This is a point in my life where I am taking things slow, just being thankful for blessings that come my way, learning new things, polishing my knowledge and competence in sector scopes on fugitive emissions, gaining the safety and health  competence related to that. Oh, H&S is also another issue and I’m taking it really seriously.  Learning is really a lifelong process. Be modest, be humble, but  also  expect for the best. If they can not give you the best, leave them, because they are not good at all.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Career Notes, Climate Change, Environmental Audit, Environmental Management System, GHG Mitigation Effort, Quality, Health, Safety & Environment, Random, Sustainability

Mt. Apo Calling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The time stamp on this photo is 3:47 am.  I think this is somewhere in Makilala, North Cotabato in 2012. I wanted to master night photography, but I need a stronger lens to do so. I haven’t maximized the use of my Olympus EPL-2, do plan to buy a Panasonic 20mm pancake lens, five years delayed. I hope the quality remains.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Career Notes, Ecotourism, Environmental Audit, Environmental Management System, Pollution Control, Quality, Health, Safety & Environment, Travel

The picture on my blog banner was the biggest “F” of them all

Have you ever wondered where the picture from my banner post was taken? It was taken at the NGCP Substation inside in the Kalayaan Power Plant complex in Laguna, Philippines sometime February or March of 2011.

sf6-stock

It was my first foray to be part of a CDM Validation team as an observer, technically no, since I got my Lead GHG Verification course in September 2011.  I was just the “dakilang alalay”  or slave of Adarne Crispo, carrying with me our personal protective equipment or just proof reading the CDM Validation report to be submitted to the UNFCCC CDM Registry.

My mentor-mentee relationship with Mr. Crispo is somewhat complicated, because I am not sure what is the concrete outcome. I have no idea what competence I have gained in the complicated field of CDM Validation/Verification or even GHG Verification of Corporate GHG Inventories.  Nothing moved forward, as if somebody is stopping my growth on purpose, even my Lead Auditor qualification in ISO 14001 was shelved for three years, even my qualification in GLAD was purposely not updated.  Anyway there is Karma, if my designated operational entity does not want me in their roster,  I can always move forward with confidence, and I have. Though things seemed like I have thrown it on the back burner, that is still my ultimate career goal.

The CDM registry is already closed for emission reduction projects, people are now talking about Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action, Intended Nationally Determined Contributions  and after COP 21 comes the Nationally Determined Contributions. Everyone’s anticipating the ratification of the Paris Agreements, but the Philippines seems lukewarm about it. The concept may not be fully understood by the current leadership, maybe our DENR Secretary can show some good animated materials for the president’s appreciation.   I am very happy now at this point in time working to support some of these efforts.

The Validation  of the CDM project on SF6 Emission Reduction in High Voltage Transmission will always be my first and somehow last CDM Validation project.  I was working at the back-office technically supporting Mr. Crispo, though we would hate each other every now and then, I never really took it personally, unless of course he did. Working on the validation project gave me a strong technical foundation on the nature of SF6, as the most potent greenhouse gas considered by the IPCC.  It is relatively easy to monitor and measure since its emission calculation methodology is mass balance.  Uncertainty is somewhat low, based on the API 2009 GHG compendium. Being in the validation/verification component  of the project, the focus was strengthening the quality of data on SF6 use and looking more into the maintenance processes of High Voltage Electrical Systems.

I was able to use that knowledge in auditing Geothermal, Natural Gas and Coal Fired power plants on their quality and environmental management systems. I have realized that its high GWP was not always considered environmentally significant, due to absence of a local regulatory framework. However, its significance in terms of cost is always highlighted.  A cylinder can cost around PHP 300,000 to PHP 500,000 in the Philippines, the add-on in terms of shipment cost due its nature as a Dangerous Cargo in the EU. Maybe the Paris Agreements can change this in the long run.  Not to lower cost but to force users to conserve a valuable and at the same time, a dangerous resource.

SF6 was not included in the national GHG inventory of the Philippines.  It is not a halocarbon, it is an F-Gas but the Second National Communication at base year 2000 have not considered it even if it is grouped together with HFC and PFC. Some people would call me crazy for my high regard of this F-Gas. Even now working on HFCs and PFCs, I never fail to mention SF6 as the most potent F-Gas of it all. Without a proper inventory, no one will really kow how much we really use this stuff and how much the Philippines is currently emitting GHGs from SF6.

Leave a comment

October 9, 2016 · 4:32 am

MOLDS and LEED…S not the wine type

Mold infestations have been bothering me. In 2008, I worked in the 7th floor of a High Rise building. I was always sick, I can smell the sour stench from the carpeting, when Test America came, they could sense a degree of Sick Building Syndrome on the lower floors given the lack of ventilation among that levels. Should we get used to it or spend efforts on eliminating it?

Green buildings are not only limited to energy and resource efficiency but  also the health and wellness of the people using it. Molds are just one aspect, emissions of volatile organic compounds, thermal comfort, adequate acoustics, illumination and overall indoor quality is essential and as a requirement periodically tested. 

Sometimes that’s the irony of it all, such concepts are popular but are not fully implemented and lacks adequacy of implementation. How can I work efficiently and effectively if I don’t have a workplace at all and I have to utilize my creativity to improvise? 

In the Philippines, there are only two (2) USGBC certified buildings. I guess, there is the Philippine Green Building Council and they have more certified buildings. There is a premium on this building, but who gives a damn about this?

Leave a comment

Filed under Career Notes, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Environmental Management System, GHG Mitigation Effort, Renewable Energy and Biofuels, Sustainability