Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Internet of Things and other innovations help electric utilities to survive

Image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Most Americans take reliable electricity for granted. Electric utilities can no longer count on customers to use more and more power, as conservation efforts and alternative energy sources gain popularity.

To survive, utility companies must focus on efficiency and cost control. The Internet of Things and other innovative technologies will help them to improve and survive despite slow market growth.

Deloitte University Press just published an insightful report,  The power is on: how IoT technology is driving energy innovation.


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Keeping with the space exploration theme of Enablon’s SPF Americas 2014, keynote panel moderator Anna M Clark summarized the interplay among various perspectives on sustainability.

Working together to rocket to success

Courtesy of Capt. John O Creighton, NASA (Retired)

Courtesy of Capt. John O Creighton, NASA (Retired)

In her 22 October 2014 article for GreenBiz, Sustainability consultant, freelance writer and author Clark noted that input from the regulated community and environment, health & safety subject matter experts adds is a much-needed dimension to the sustainability discussion.

Many companies embed corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities as part of everyday business. Yet in the U.S., we often see a line in the sand between environment, health & safety (EHS) and CSR or sustainability initiatives. The interesting part is that mountains of EHS data are available to help improve the Company bottom line, while making the company more sustainable. All we need to do is harness the data, analyze it, share it with the people who need it to make business decisions… easier said than done!

A good, solid EHS technology platform certainly can make it happen. Joe Jones of U.K. consultancy SustainIt says “finding a way to make this data usable allows corporates to really kick start their CSR momentum.”

However, most users still only exploit a fraction of the available functionality of EHS systems. Jill Gilbert, president of Lexicon Systems, explained in her presentation that the breakdown often occurs at a failure to anticipate and meet basic business requirements. “Companies can make emotional decisions. They see bells and whistles and forget what their needs are.”

Click here for the full article.


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Each year, the Dow Jones Index Committee and sustainability investment specialist RobecoSAM review thousands of companies and identify those to include in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). Companies in the DJSI are recognized as sustainability leaders by independent rating organizations, as well.

Launched in 1999, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index family tracks the stock performance of the world’s leading companies in terms of economic, environmental and social criteria.

The DJSI World 2014 Review Results

The DJSI Committee develops seven indices each year. The following summary is for the DJSI World, which represents the top 10% of the largest 2,500 companies in the S&P Global BMI based on long-term economic, environmental and social criteria.

Global Sustainability Leaders

The two figures below list the 2014 leaders in 23 Industry Groups. Sixteen companies have been part of DJSI World for all fifteen years—Baxter International, Bayer, Bayerische Motoren Werke, BT Group, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Diageo, Intel, Sainsbury, Novo Nordisk, RWE, SAP, Siemens, Storebrand and Unilever.

djsi-world-industry-leaders-2014-1

  djsi-world-industry-leaders-2014-2

Top 10 Additions to DJSI World (by Market Capitalization)

  1. Commonwealth Bank of Australia
  2. GlaxoSmithKline
  3. Amgen
  4. Toronto-Dominion Bank
  5. AbbVie
  6. Caterpillar
  7. Renkitt-Benckiser Group
  8. Lockheed-Martin Group
  9. Bank of New York Mellon Group
  10. Deutsche Post AG

Top 10 Deletions from DJSI World (by Market Capitalization)

  1. General Electric
  2. Bank of America
  3. Schlumberger
  4. BHP Billiton Ltd
  5. McDonald’s
  6. BHP Billiton PLC
  7. Telefonica
  8. Starbucks,
  9. NIKE Inc
  10. Colgate-Palmolive

Learn more about DJSI indices and see the 2014 Annual Review here.


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Taking out the trash, Houston style

The City of Houston, America’s fourth largest city, not known as a “green” city, is slowly adding traditional, curbside recycling to some neighborhoods. I see green recycling bins and black waste bins on the curb as I drive about.

One Bin for All (OBFA)?

Here’s a new wrinkle: the City’s waste department recently announced a proposal to commingle trash and recycled materials in a single waste bin. With OBFA, everything goes into the bin, with recyclables sorted out later. The City thought that OBFA would promote recycling. My take? This is the antithesis of recycling; it is like taking out the trash on any ordinary “trash day!” Now the City is rethinking its options.

Image: Rubbermaid

Image: Rubbermaid

… or Segregate Waste from Recyclables?

Our household has recycled for years, at our own expense. Our suburban subdivision sits within the City of Houston limits. The community association contracts trash hauling and recycling services to a private contractor, with partial reimbursement from the City of Houston. We pay about $3/month for recycling services, in addition to Community Association dues. It’s optional, and it’s worth it.

It is easy to toss paper, plastic and glass in the recycling bins–to segregate it from waste–and place the bins outside once a week. I wish the City required all citizens and businesses to recycle; it is amazing how little garbage we generate each week when we recycle! I hope that our subdivision moves to the larger, covered, wheeled recycling bins soon; with 55 inches of rain per year, it’s easier to manage recyclables in a covered bin than in the small, open totes.

The Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has an outreach program and offers definitions, tips and apps for plastics recycling at RecycleYourPlastics.org.

I’d like to hear your thoughts.


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Learn from the experts and share best practices at September Sustainable Performance Forum

I am pleased to announce my upcoming presentation, “Business Requirements and Software Selection Best Practices” at the Sustainable Performance Forum, 25-26 September in Chicago, IL. The #Enablon #SPF Americas 2014 program features thought leaders on environment, health & safety (EHS) and sustainability, information technology (IT), and Risk. 

Former NASA astronaut, navy fighter pilot and test pilot and Boeing Chief Technical Pilot John O. Creighton will deliver the keynote talk on risk.

The Keynote panel features senior executives from industry, leading EHS subject matter experts and industry analysts. Author and writer Anna M. Clark will moderate the panel. Enablon CEO Dan Vogel, CTO Marc Vogel, Vice President Pascal Gaude and Enablon North America CEO Philippe Tesler will present their vision and company roadmap.

The Enablon team will lead program tracks on six different Enablon software solutions. Each track will include a session on issues & trends and a case study, in addition to presentations on the solution set and product road map.

Customers will have the opportunity to collaborate with subject matter experts and Enablon on future product enhancements. 

The program features two new tracks this year, beyond solution tracks and software training:

  • Technology Enablers–cross-platform, innovative information technologies
  • Implementation Strategies–best practices for business requirements and software selection; implementation, and more.

SPF also offers networking opportunities like industry roundtables and a gala dinner, and Lunchtime Expert series talks. Learn more here.


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Interbrand names Best Global Green Brands for 2014

Interbrand and Deloitte named the 50 Best Interbrand Best Global Green Brands 2014 Global Green Brands for 2014. Ford Motor Company leads the list, with the closest Performance and Perception scores. The top 10 include four auto manufacturers, four electronics/high tech, one apparel and one consumer packaged goods company.

  1. Ford
  2. Toyota
  3. Honda
  4. Nissan
  5. Panasonic
  6. Nokia
  7. Sony
  8. Adidas
  9. Danone
  10. Dell

Sustainability is ” a business approach to creating long-term value by embracing opportunities and managing risks derived from economic, environmental and social impacts… it also involves creating and maintaining a product, service, or business identity that reflects added value in terms of environmental and social benefits.”

–Best Global Green Brands Report, 2014

The report says the path forward [to sustainability] requires a radical shift in priorities, production and consumption methods and values. The path forward requires innovation, leadership, courage and cooperation.

“…the search for new, more sustainable models, solutions, methods and materials is accelerating…  it is becoming increasingly clear that “business as usual” is not the path forward.”

– Best Global Green Brands 2014


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Upcoming Sustainable Performance Forum to focus on operational risk and process safety management

The Enablon Sustainable Performance Forum (SPF) will bring experts on operational risk management and process safety management to Houston, TX on the afternoon of 21 May. Book author and award-winning journalist Loren Steffy will deliver the opening keynote address. Environment, health & safety (EHS) management information system thought leader Jill Barson Gilbert of Lexicon Systems, LLC will moderate a panel discussion. Panelists include Jess A. McAngus, respected compliance expert and Co-founder Spirit Environmental; Jonathan Commanday, Director Applications Services at Axiall Corporation; and Leah Cartwright, Process Safety subject matter expert from Enablon North America Corp.

Enablon’s North America Product Manager Alexis Merydith will present the Enablon V7.0 Road Map and demonstrate the software’s Management of Change (MOC) capabilities. Global risk expert John Kill, Partner in ERM’s Risk Practice, will deliver the closing keynote address.

EEnablon sustainable performance forum houston 2014xisting Enablon software customers are invited to participate in a pre-conference Customer Workshop. Here they will meet with Enablon founders Dan Vogel, Phil Tesler and Marc Vogel and the product team to learn about and provide input on future software releases.

Consulting firm ERM is the conference co-sponsor. Read the press release here and register for the complimentary conference here.


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Five simple things we can do to reduce our environmental footprint

Today we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day in the U.S. On the first Earth Day(s) in 1970, 20 million people celebrated in the U.S.; in 1990, 200 million celebrated globally: in 2014 the number is even greater.

In honor of Earth Day—and every day—we can reduce our environmental footprint.

Image of Earth from space

Image: NASA

Each of us can do five simple things for a more sustainable environment.

  1. Drive less. Walk, share a ride, or combine several errands on a single “run.” Work from home 1-2 days a week, if your employer allows it, and if you can be productive.
  2. Conserve electricity. Turn off lights when you don’t need them or install switches that  automatically turn off the lights if there is no motion after a few minutes. Replace light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.
  3. Conserve water. Install low-flow shower heads and efficient toilets. Use the dishwasher—when full—rather than hand-washing items under running water. If you have lawn sprinklers, use a timer and don’t over-water.
  4. Mimimize waste. Forego shopping bags and packaging that you don’t need. Employ washable, reusable shopping bags. Select food and consumer products with reduced or recyclable packaging.
  5. Recycle. If you must drink bottled and canned beverages, recycle the containers. If you read newspapers, recycle them. At our home, we recycle about two to three times as much as we discard.


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Verdantix names top sustainability providers… business, not environment, appears to drive sustainability initiatives

A December 12 Verdantix report named the top providers of sustainability assurance. The top six are:
1. Bureau Veritas (BV)
2. Deloitte
3. Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
4. Ernst & Young (EY)
5. KPMG
6. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

What is most interesting about this list is that all of the above organizations approach sustainability from an top-down, integrated business perspective, NOT from a bottom-up environmental perspective.

You can find a summary of the Green Quadrant Sustainability Assurance Global 2013 report on the Verdantix web site.


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Trends shaping EHS & sustainability software

Several trends are influencing the  environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability software market. This article touches on just a few.

Software as a Service (SaaS). Ten to 15 years ago, most software was installed “on premises” on a company’s own servers, with more software installed on each user’s desktop or laptop computer. Today, Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers software differently. The software vendor installs the software on its servers and each user accesses the it through secure Internet connections, with little or no other software on their desktop or laptop computer.

More and more organizations, including Fortune 50-sized companies, are embracing SaaS, where they would not consider it five to ten years ago. Some issues that changed acceptance:

  • information technology (IT) is not the core business of most organizations; adopting SaaS is a way to leverage limited IT resources.
  • SaaS allows transferring some of the risk of software development, deployment, maintenance, upgrades and support to the vendors.
  • they trust the SaaS providers to manage and deliver data securely, protecting sensitive information and trade secrets.
  • they seek alternative cost structures with “pay-as-you-go” subscriptions rather than large up front capital expense associated with “on premises” installation.
  • they can avoid hardware costs associated with traditional, “on premises” installation.

Global standardization

Standardization. Organizations place great value on streamlining and standardizing business processes across the organization. While most companies believe that they–or their data–are unique, the truth is, they are not that different from others. Companies can can benefit from the best practices of others within their company, as well as others within and outside of their industry.

Let me clarify… while regulatory standards and specific data points vary widely from company to company, the business processes are similar. For example, regulatory intelligence requires applicability analysis and regulatory change management processes regardless of the industry sector or regulatory topic.

Globalization. Organizations need to manage data and deliver information in context as close to real-time as possible to make sound business decisions. An enterprise-wide EHS and sustainability software solution that delivers rolled-up information from disparate operations can enhance compliance and sustainability.ghs-pictogram-harmful-human-healthThe leading EHS and sustainability software solutions provide multilingual capabilities without the need for translation services. This is important not only for companies with facilities spread across several continents, but also for companies that have customers spread across several continents. Think of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) and the updated OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) that require multiple language versions of a (material) safety data sheet (M)SDS.

Improved user interfaces. Users will not readily adopt software that is difficult to use. The leading EHS and sustainability software applications push beyond the competition for a reason–they are much easier for end-users to adopt. Both the “data in” and “data out” interfaces are more intuitive and visually appealing. Improvements include:

  • Kinder, simpler data entry forms.
  • More intuitive tabular data displays that allow “live” data sorting, filtering and “drill-down.”
  • Configurable dashboards with assorted graphic, charts and tables.
  • The ability to apply multiple dashboards tailored to different user needs.
  • Ready access to online help.

Ease of configuration. Many EHS software providers stress ease of configuration. The software architecture allows a trained user to add new users, update reports and forms, create reports and dashboards without writing software code. Why is this important?

  • the customer does not need to call the vendor or a consultant each time they need a small change.
  • it allows a custom look without actually customizing the underlying software code, allowing for standard upgrades.
  • companies can tailor help files to use their own terminology and to meet end-user needs.

Cloud, mobile, social and big data. These technologies–more than buzzwords–greatly influence software development. This is a good thing:

  • ID-10083418public and private clouds allow data access 24/7 from different devices, many of them mobile.
  • mobility allows data management at the point of generation; it  it allows automated data gathering that in the past used clipboard- and operations log-based methods.
  • in areas with limited or no Internet access,mobility allows offline data gathering with later sync to the database.
  • social tools allow data sharing and collaboration through automated workflows, messaging, shared work spaces and document repositories.
  • big data technologies allow quick data mining of very large data sets (1 TB and more) to spot trends.

Business and technical trends continue to shape the EHS and sustainability software market. Be up-to-date on these trends to have more informed discussions among your organization, software vendors and consultants.