2019 CCBJ Business Achievement Awards
Climate Change Business Journal presents its 11th annual CCBJ Business Achievement Awards for outstanding business performance and achievements in the climate change industry in 2019. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all the companies that submitted nominations. All are welcome to attend the official awards ceremony as part of EBI’s annual Environmental Industry Summit in San Diego, CA on March 19, 2020 at 7pm. Environmental Industry Summit XVIII runs from March 18-20, 2020.
ADVANCING BEST PRACTICES: MICROGRIDS
Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd; Chicago, IL) for developing the country’s first utility-operated microgrid cluster, which demonstrates some of the most advanced grid modernization efforts to reduce carbon and strengthen communities. Built in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the microgrid is part of ComEd’s Community of the Future, a pilot project demonstrating how advanced technologies make communities more green, connected, and resilient. The Bronzeville Community Microgrid will leverage a variety of advanced distributed energy resources, from a 750 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) installation at a public housing development to a 500 kW/2 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery energy storage system to supply power for roughly 1,000 residences, businesses, and public institutions, including 11 customers that have been identified as providing critical public services. Beyond the direct service it will provide, the microgrid will support efforts to make the broader region more resilient and sustainable. Within the microgrid, ComEd is leading two projects with the support of the Department of Energy to develop and demonstrate advanced technologies that will make it easier to integrate renewable generation. The lessons learned from these demonstrations will help integrate more low-carbon technologies across the wider grid, helping communities everywhere.
ADVANCING BEST PRACTICES: GHG ANALYSIS
Rincon Consultants, Inc. (Sacramento, CA) for its development of a tool that helps jurisdictions meet the requirements for streamlining California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) greenhouse gas (GHG) analyses, pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15183.5. This section of the law requires regulated entities to ensure that a climate action plan (CAP) quantifies GHG emissions, meets SB 32 reduction targets, and implements and tracks GHG reduction strategies. These requirements emphasize the need for a tool that enables jurisdictions to fulfill these requirements on their own in an efficient, accurate, and cost-effective manner. Leveraging its extensive experience in climate action plan development and implementation, Rincon has created a proprietary, dashboard-based CAP implementation tool, called CAPDash, that allows jurisdictions to update GHG emission inventories and track implementation of GHG reduction strategies in real time through an easy-to-use dashboard interface. Customized data visualizations can be created and shared immediately, providing staff and stakeholders instant updates to the implementation status of GHG reduction measures. CAPDash enables jurisdictions to manage their own data, meaning they will not have to rely on consultants or experts to update GHG inventories and track success of their CAP implementation.
ADVANCING BEST PRACTICES: GREEN STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE
Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. (ECT; Gainesville, FL) for implementing new approaches to the funding and construction of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). The realities of climate change, including more frequent and intense rainstorms, elevated heat and humidity, high water levels, and increased shoreline erosion, are creating a crisis for stormwater managers.
GSI can address these issues, but communities are challenged to fund and construct projects at large scales. ECT is leading a team of innovators, including professionals from Corvias and Quantified Ventures, to bring new approaches to funding and constructing GSI. These methods, which combine market principles with community benefits, are upending the traditional economics and practice of building GSI, according to ECT. Working with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the team has already helped execute one transaction for an ambitious, $20 million community-based GSI partnership (CBGSI). The team is now working on two environmental impact bond (EIB) transactions in the Greater Buffalo region and in Hudson, Ohio. Altogether, these transactions are among the first 10 CBGSI or EIB transactions in the country and could result in cumulative investments of more than $50 million in distributed GSI. They are anticipated to herald a new era in the use of private finance/delivery and pay-for-performance concepts and are bringing climate resilience within reach.
ADVANCING BEST PRACTICES: COASTAL RESILIENCE
EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., PBC (Hunt Valley, MD) for its 2019 publication of a report, titled Planning for Coastal Resiliency in the Northern Chesapeake Bay, that is now serving as the foundation for a regional strategy to address sea-level rise (SLR) and shoreline stabilization surrounding Maryland’s Susquehanna Flats and Upper Chesapeake Bay. The report’s purpose is to assist Aberdeen Proving Ground and the surrounding communities in building a greater margin of safety against SLR by identifying associated risks and providing guidance for the incorporation of resilience measures into future infrastructure planning. The report’s fundamental intent is a “science to solutions” process to develop a long-range plan for SLR based on scientific and policy-based research. The report identifies areas in which to focus management efforts; provides data needed to develop adaptation plans; and outlines the steps necessary to implement those plans and decrease SLR risks. Nature-based, structural, and non-structural resilience measures are described with specific focus on their function as well as performance factors. In addition, the report provides an overview of current sedimentation and accretion patterns and rates. It clearly lays out the added benefit that strategies used for coastal resilience may play a role in decreasing sediment and nutrient loading to the Chesapeake Bay.
PROJECT MERIT: RENEWABLE ENERGY
Black & Veatch (B&V; Overland Park, KS) for its Taiwan project and advances in its sustainability and clean energy development businesses. B&V subsidiary Diode Ventures was selected to finance and develop a solar farm of up to 10 MW in Tainan City, Taiwan, that will help expand Google’s position as the world’s largest purchaser of renewable energy. B&V will provide owner’s engineering and construction management services for the 40,000-panel project, while New Green Power will provide engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) and operations and maintenance (O&M) services. Taiwan recently amended its Electricity Act to allow non-utility companies to directly buy renewable energy and decrease their carbon footprints. B&V also announced that it is reorganizing its global power business, increasing focus on renewables and launching a Distributed Energy operating group. The new structure also enhances the company’s global focus on its traditional conventional and power transmission businesses.
PROJECT MERIT: CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
AECOM (Los Angeles, CA) for its work in development the second-ever Texas Coastal Resiliency Master Plan. In March 2019, responding to devastation from Hurricane Harvey and extreme national socio-economic implications of an unprotected Texas, AECOM and Texas’ General Land Office released the plan, which serves as a long-term, statewide planning tool that directs the agency’s coastal management priorities in developing and implementing projects to restore, enhance, and protect 367-plus miles of Texas coastline and 3,300 miles of bays and estuaries, while protecting multi-billion dollar energy assets and 6.7 million residents. The plan’s strength yielded a proposed $100 million of federal and $40 million of state funding toward vital, coast-wide resiliency projects, representing the largest-ever annual allocation of coastal resilience funds at the state level. The cutting-edge work communicates the impact of inaction, fosters future land/asset stewardship and is already informing resiliency projects/guidelines nationally. AECOM’s unique coastal engineering expertise across city/county/state/federal agencies, environmental/technical/engineering groups, researchers/universities, and community outreach programs bore important facilitation and planning. AECOM identified and delivered: innovative coastal restoration methodologies crafted to address interactions/co-benefits between infrastructure- and nature-based engineering solutions; critical consensus building across diverse state/federal agencies, businesses/industries and communities to allow groups to see common goals; and positive collaboration with the Technical Advisory Committee, a 200-plus group of coastal experts, stakeholders, and public and private entities.
PROJECT MERIT: CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
Tetra Tech, Inc. (Pasadena, CA) for its development of guidance documents addressing the multiple impacts of climate change on the state of Hawaii. The state’s communities are highly vulnerable to extreme natural-disaster events, including hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, seasonal high waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, lava flows, and sea-level rise. In addition, climate change is expected to exacerbate the impacts of many natural hazards, thereby increasing the risk of disaster at the community, county, and state levels. Tetra Tech worked with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program and the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop two guidance documents for Hawaii addressing sea-level rise in community planning and disaster-recovery preparedness. These guidance documents are intended to help counties, together with their communities and partners, address sea-level rise through their existing planning processes and provide model resources to support resilient and streamlined post-disaster permitting for reconstruction. Case studies will be used to improve understanding of opportunities and challenges to increase resilience to coastal hazards and sea-level rise through planning and post-disaster reconstruction. The Disaster Recovery Preparedness Guidance was completed in April 2019 and the Sea Level Rise Planning Guidance will be completed in April 2020.
PROJECT MERIT: CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
Weston Solutions, Inc. (West Chester, PA) for its work addressing the resiliency of flood-control measures on the Missouri River. Rainfall and snowfall in the lower Missouri River Basin from the fall of 2018 to the spring of 2019 resulted in substantial regional flooding. Contracted to close two breaches in the L-550 levee system in Atchison County, Missouri, Weston Solutions’ approach contributed both to levee system resiliency and community sustainability. The flooding had caused more than 50 levee breaches, broad embankment damage to more than 500 miles of levee system, and catastrophic damage to surrounding homes, businesses, and farms. At River Marker 542.8, Weston placed sand that had been removed from inland farm fields to close 75% of the 1,100 foot-wide breach. These steps provided ecological restoration because the deep sand deposits are not farmable: their removal to carry out levee breach repair allows the fields to be quickly returned to productive use. Weston subcontracted to nearly 50 local contractors and farmers, relying on their specialized equipment, to rebuild the impacted levees. The work provided the farmers needed income when they were unable to conduct their farming operations. Following breach closure, Weston expanded the sand closure berm to 500 feet to serve as the foundation for future levee improvements, and it constructed a temporary sand levee to the same elevation as the original to protect against near-term high water levels.
PROJECT MERIT: GHG MITIGATION
Burns & McDonnell (Kansas City, MO) for its proposal of an alternative energy system to reduce GHG emissions at a manufacturing facility in Denver, Colorado. To reduce waste and its carbon footprint, TruStile Properties LLC proposed construction of a new door manufacturing facility in Denver. Burns & McDonnell evaluated the environmental impacts and GHG emissions of a proposed biomass boiler in lieu of combusting natural gas, diesel, or other fuel. The analysis showed that over 37,000 tons of GHG emissions per year will be reduced with the new approach. The new facility’s biomass boiler will combust sawdust, a byproduct from the door manufacturing process, as well as generate power and provide heating and cooling to the facility. The plan proposes to not dispose of the sawdust by-product via landfilling, composting, or burning for crop heating, all of which have GHG emissions associated with transportation. The biomass boiler will have the capability to meet all heating and cooling requirements for the new facility, and no electricity from the local power provider will be required for heating or cooling.
PROJECT MERIT: ULTRA-LOW EMISSION ZONE
Jacobs (Dallas, TX) for its preparation of an impact assessment for a planned Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London, England. Road transport is responsible for approximately half of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions impacting health in London, exacerbating chronic illnesses, shortening life expectancy, and damaging lung development. To address this issue, the world’s first ULEZ was introduced in central London, requiring that all cars (other than taxis), motorcycles, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches, and heavy-goods vehicles meet emissions standards or pay a charge. Prior to the plan’s April 2019 implementation, Transport for London (TfL) commissioned Jacobs to develop an integrated impact assessment to examine the environmental, health, equality, economic, and business impacts of the proposed ULEZ. The Jacobs team explored impacts across multiple issues, including air quality, the health and well-being of the population, access to health-related services, socio-economically disadvantaged populations, and London’s economy. Following the plan’s introduction, data revealed roadside NO2 reductions of 36% within the zone and 77% of vehicles now meeting ULEZ standards. From March to September 2019, there were 13,500 fewer older, more-polluting, non-compliant vehicles detected in the zone, a reduction of 38%. The ULEZ builds on policies to reduce road transport emissions in central London, including encouraging more walking, cycling, use of public transport, efficient freight deliveries, and greener TfL bus fleets and TfL-licensed taxis. Expansion of the ULEZ to the North and South Circular Roads is planned for cars, vans, and motorcycles, and London-wide for heavy vehicles.
PROJECT MERIT: ENERGY MANAGEMENT PLANS
SIA Solutions (Houston, TX) for its development of an installation energy management plan (IEMP) for Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) in Texas. As one of the largest Air Force installations in the country, JBSA comprises 11 geographically separate operating locations throughout San Antonio and spends approximately $60 million annually on its energy consumption. The IEMP focuses on identifying energy-efficiency project recommendations that support JBSA’s goals to improve resiliency by increasing renewable energy supply, implementing efficiency and conservation initiatives, and implementing redundancy and diversified strategies to ensure mission readiness. Implementation of the IEMP will effectively decrease pollution and improve efficiencies that enhance the environment. Execution of the JBSA energy strategy will largely be achieved through traditional funding vehicles, public-private or public-public partnerships, and efficient operations. The recommended projects identified provide almost 540 gigawatt hours (GWh) of self-sustainable and resilient energy. The solar and combined heat and power (CHP) solutions provide $9.1 million in total cost savings, which may be used for enhancing other areas of mission readiness.
PROJECT MERIT: RESILIENCE & WATER QUALITY
Hazen and Sawyer (New York, NY) for its management of three projects that were named “Engineering Excellence Award” winners by the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York (ACEC-NY). The company’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) won an ACEC Diamond award, the Alley Creek Tidal Wetland Restoration won a Platinum award, and the Experimental Nitrogen Removing On-site Wastewater Treatment won a Gold award. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) is the largest post-Sandy resiliency project in New York and the first to be implemented within Manhattan. The $1.45 billion project involves the construction of an integrated flood protection system for a 2.4-mile section of Manhattan. Next, the eastern shore of Alley Creek, a tributary of Little Neck Bay in Queens, is the site of a first-of-its-kind wetland reconstruction providing year-round water-quality improvements and mitigating the effects of a nearby combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall. This pilot project uses progressively smaller sinuous tributaries to maximize contact time between incoming water and native wetland plant species, improving water quality by removing fecal coliform bacteria and increasing dissolved oxygen levels. Finally, for 40 years, water quality in Suffolk County has plummeted due to increasing nitrogen levels, causing issues in local lakes and coastal marine waters, threatening public safety, and restricting growth. This nitrogen increase is attributed to wastewater discharged from individual on-site wastewater treatment systems or un-sewered systems like antiquated cesspools and septic systems found in 70% of Suffolk County homes. The New York State Center for Clean Water Technology (CCWT) selected Hazen to evaluate available on-site wastewater treatment technologies. Nitrogen removing biofilters (NRBs) were found to be the most effective technology based on cost per pound of nitrogen removed. CCWT then tasked Hazen to design and install five NRBs in Suffolk County.
PROJECT MERIT: CARBON CAPTURE
CO2 Solutions Inc. (Quebec City, Canada) for commissioning its first commercial carbon-capture unit, working with Fibrek General Partnership, a subsidiary of Resolute Forest Products Inc. (RFP), and Serres Toundra Inc. The project team deployed a 30-ton-per-day CO2 capture unit and ancillary equipment at the RFP pulp mill in Saint-Félicien, Quebec; the captured CO2 is being commercially reused by the adjacent Serres Toundra greenhouse facility. According to CO2 Solutions, the unit represents several firsts for the global carbon-capture industry, including the first commercial deployment of an enzymatic carbon-capture process, the first carbon-capture unit in the forestry industry, and the first capture unit using only residual thermal energy in the form of hot water, creating no parasitic load on the host plant, a critical factor in reducing the overall cost of carbon capture. CO2 Solutions contracted Tetra Tech to deliver a performance audit report.
PROJECT MERIT: ENERGY STORAGE
GE Renewable Energy (Paris, France) for its selection as the supplier of battery technology for one of the world’s largest grid-scale hybrid renewable energy projects. The Solar River Project in South Australia will have a 200 MW photovoltaic array consisting of more than 640,000 solar panels, and it will include GE’s 100 MW, three-hour battery storage system, which will provide nearly 300 MWh of storage capacity. The project, which is located in South Australia’s Mid North region, will power 90,000 homes. The Solar River Project received Crown Development Approval in June of 2018, and Stage 1 of the project is expected to begin generating electricity in early 2021.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: SMART DRIVING
Greater Than (Stockholm, Sweden) for the selection of its artificial intelligence (AI) platform to support an international “smart driving” initiative. In 2019, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) launched the FIA Smart Driving Challenge, the world’s first global competition in smart driving. The goal of the partnership between Greater Than and FIA, which is the mother organization for motor clubs with 88 million members, is to raise awareness about safe and environmentally responsible driving for everyday drivers. Through “gamification,” drivers are encouraged to contribute to lower CO2 emissions and road safety. With 16 years of experience with connected cars and a database of 650 million unique driving situations, coupled with AI and machine learning, Greater Than can calculate each trip’s risk in real time and thereby influence drivers, through economic incentives and gamification, to drive in a safer and environmentally friendly manner. The result after the 2019 season was a reduction in CO2 emissions by 13.8% and related road claims by 52% among participating drivers.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: WILDFIRE PROTECTION
HANA Resources, Inc. (Lake Forest, CA) for its development of the Situation Awareness Fire Expectancy Regression (SAFER) program. SAFER is a predictive deep neural network that integrates stateful computational graphing solutions with hyperspectral imaging datasets to produce a model that forecasts potential fires and fire zones. This innovative idea was created to mitigate and reduce threats to human life, personal property, infrastructure, and damage to the natural resources and watersheds of California by a creating predictive modeling system that will predict fire hazards in near real time. SAFER gives firefighters a temporal edge against possible pending fires, thus allowing additional resources and solutions to be pre-deployed for monitoring and early mitigation. Auxiliary features of SAFER, such as short-wave infrared (SWIR) imagery via drone survey, allow for prediction of fire routes and fire spread before a wildfire can occur. Predictive advantages from these features allow for better “reading” of the fire and bolster more comprehensive firefighting tactics during wildfire operations.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: DAM BREACH PROTECTION
Kleinschmidt Associates (Pittsfield, ME) for its introduction of modeling software for assessing the risks of dam-breaching events. Faced with aging infrastructure, limited resources, dynamic weather events, and the uncertainty of climate change, today’s dam owners must manage risk to protect the public and the built environment. Dam breach modeling is an important component to establishing risk from a potential dam breach event, and HEC-RAS is one of the world’s most popular hydraulic modeling applications used for this purpose. Recognizing the importance of quantifying the risk but also the shortcomings of traditional deterministic methods for ascertaining the effects of a dam breach event, Kleinschmidt introduced McBreach, a software application that runs HEC-RAS dam breach models in a Monte Carlo approach to quantify the high degree of uncertainty inherent in dam breach modeling and to provide a risk-based approach to understanding consequences. The company says that it understands the broad global interest in deploying powerful tools of this nature and is thereby offering it free to the public. According to the company, the use of tools like McBreach should improve our understanding of the consequences of dam breach modeling, which will lead to better dam design, improved emergency action plans, and an overall increase in awareness of the risks associated with dams in an ever-changing and uncertain climate.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: LEAK DETECTION AND REPAIR
Trihydro Corp. for the development of LeakTracker Pro, a web-based software platform that helps organizations manage leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs, which often involve overlapping compliance and reporting requirements. In 2019, a large oil and gas company selected LeakTracker Pro to manage the data for voluntary and regulatory fugitive emissions reduction programs for all of its facilities. With numerous contractors surveying over 2,000 facilities, the company not only needed to communicate, schedule, and deploy resources, but it also needed to quantify each individual facility’s fugitive emissions. LeakTracker Pro allowed the company to collect all facility data in one database and manage inspection workflows, repair notifications, and results across its entire operation. Technicians from various vendors used LeakTracker Pro’s mobile app to consistently collect survey and leak data, even in the absence of an internet connection. Facility managers used LeakTracker Pro’s data visualization tools to analyze results, and they used its EPA-specified emissions calculation features to quantify fugitive emissions and create submittal-ready reports with a mouse click. In addition to complying with regulatory requirements, the firm continues to use LeakTracker Pro to track and manage its voluntary GHG emissions reduction program. To learn more please visit https://www.trihydro.com/products/leaktracker-pro
NEW PRACTICE AREAS: SURFACE WATER
Weston Solutions, Inc. (West Chester, PA) for the launch of its national surface water practice to help clients respond to the effects of climate change, extreme weather, and sea-level rise on surface water needs. Building on the company’s 15 years of experience at its surface water center of excellence in Carlsbad, California, the 25-plus member practice combines in-house water quality, engineering, and modeling expertise, joining several focus areas across Weston offices in New Mexico, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. A key offering of the practice is the Microbial Source Tracking (MST) Lab, one of only two MST Labs with a commercial EPA license in the nation. Weston claims that the practice has an enhanced ability to leverage both scientific and engineering capabilities to new geographies, solving new problems for clients, with experts in sediment- and water-quality monitoring; infrastructure resiliency; engineering design, hydrology/hydraulics; best management practice design and implementation; and human health/ecosystem risk assessment. This year, the practice enjoyed a 70% increase in MST procurements and more than doubled the geographic reach and scope of its surface water work.
PRACTICE AREA GROWTH: LOW-CARBON ENERGY
Mabbett & Associates Ltd. (UK), a Scotland-based consulting and engineering firm specializing in environmental and safety services for private and public sector clients, for growing revenue by more than 30% over the past year due in part to growth in its low-carbon energy practice. During 2019, Mabbett delivered on multiple multifaceted low-carbon energy initiatives. The company was retained to deliver a pilot program on local heat and energy efficiency strategies for two large Scottish Councils-Municipalities. Mabbett also continues to be retained by the Scottish Government’s enterprise agency to deliver low-carbon advice to 80 Scottish businesses in support of their industrial energy efficiency and decarbonization programs. In addition, the company has been retained by Invest Northern Ireland to advance its sustainable development initiative through the support of eight Northern Ireland businesses in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and emerging technologies. Finally, Mabbett has been retained by 22 of the U.K.’s largest energy users, including General Electric, Schlumberger, and Xodus, to support their efforts to comply with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive by helping them improve their energy efficiency and decarbonize through technology investment.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP: COASTAL HIGHWAY RESILIENCE
ICF (Fairfax, VA) for the publication of Nature-Based Solutions for Coastal Highway Resilience: An Implementation Guide. Conventional coastal highway protection includes walls, seawalls, bulkheads, and revetments, which destroy the natural protections provided by healthy beaches, dunes, wetlands and other natural coastal ecosystems. Unlike conventional man-made approaches, nature-based solutions can naturally adapt to sea-level rise over time when conditions are suitable. To encourage consideration of nature-based solutions for protecting coastal highways as part of a broader portfolio of resilience measures, ICF supported the Federal Highway Administration in the development of a white paper, a series of information sharing sessions across the country, and a final report. In August 2019, ICF completed this multi-year project with the publication of the report, which ICF claims is the first of its kind to provide detailed information specific to transportation professionals on where and when nature-based solutions can be used to improve the resilience of coastal roads and bridges. The report details step-by-step information, providing guidance on how to consider nature-based solutions in the planning process and how to conduct a site assessment to determine whether nature-based solutions are appropriate. The report also provides key engineering and ecological design considerations, permitting approaches, construction considerations, and monitoring and maintenance strategies. Transportation agencies across the nation can use this report when developing more sustainable and resilient coastal transportation infrastructure.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP: LOW-CARBON ECONOMY
ERM (London, U.K.) for its work in helping organizations determine and respond to the business, legal, physical, and social consequences of the transition to a lower-carbon economy. With the appointments of global and regional leaders in 2019, ERM launched a new service to help clients manage the long-term business risks and opportunities related to climate change and other key sustainability topics. With investor and customer pressure accelerating, the company enjoyed a 30% growth in its corporate sustainability and climate change revenue during its 2020 fiscal year. ERM further strengthened its bench through the strategic acquisitions of BrownFlynn and SustainAbility. Specific projects included the following: helping a power company retire carbon-intensive assets and build new, low-carbon infrastructure; identifying emission/carbon footprint reduction opportunities throughout data center operations for technology companies; embedding GHG reduction programs into an oil and gas major’s operations to support investor funding and managing decision-critical data; harnessing digitization to enhance GRI reporting; providing technology-enabled sustainability materiality assessments through its partnership with Datamaran; reshaping capital investment for a manufacturer to make production facilities more resilient to extreme weather events; and helping a bank shift its investment portfolios to reflect climate risk.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP: HYDROGEN ECONOMY
Jacobs (Dallas, TX) for its development of a new sustainable hydrogen supply chain model tailored for Australia’s large-scale hydrogen economy. Australia has recently seen a renewed focus on hydrogen as an alternative energy storage solution with potential to decarbonize a broad spectrum of industries. With excellent renewable energy resources and proximity to large potential export markets in Asia, the country claims it is well positioned to become a leader in this emerging industry. However, industry conversations had largely neglected one critical issue—whether a large-scale hydrogen economy could live up to its potential for economic growth without compromising broader sustainability goals, including emissions reduction and water security. In response, Jacobs’ thought leaders asked “what if” knowledge from the water, power, and transport sectors could be integrated to develop a new supply-chain model, one that would be better-suited to Australia’s climatic conditions and energy landscape. The resulting white paper, which was released in May 2019, outlined a sustainable vision for hydrogen production in Australia by uncovering new insights into the critical role of recycled water and water utilities in meeting the nation’s future energy and mobility needs. The release of the paper has elevated the importance of sustainable water management practices in the development of a large-scale hydrogen economy and has reinforced the benefits of drawing on interdisciplinary knowledge in developing solutions that will accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon future.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP: CLIMATE CHANGE PROFESSIONALS
Korea Environment Corporation (K-eco) for the launch of several programs designed to increase the Republic of Korea’s population of climate-change professionals and experts.
The Republic of Korea joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1993 as the 47th country after recognizing the need to participate in the international effort to reduce GHG emissions. As a result, it has become an urgent task for the country to lay solid foundations for the implementation of the national GHG reduction target, and to cultivate much-needed domestic experts who will be able to expand the supply of renewable energy and establish and implement policies to respond to climate change. The republic sees that is an increasing need to revitalize climate change-related industries and exploit them as a new engine of economic growth. To achieve these goals, it is essential to nurture climate change experts and supply them to the industry, thus creating new jobs. To this end, the K-eco is operating various programs to foster climate change-related professionals. Representative programs of the new capacity-building academy include the following: Training Course of GHG Management Professionals; Designation of Graduate Schools Specializing in Climate Change; Designation of Graduate Schools Specializing in Waste Resource Energy; and Designation of Green Campuses.
INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP: EXTERNAL INNOVATION
Black & Veatch (B&V; Overland Park, KS) for the launch of its IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator to seek partnerships with startups focused on renewable and distributed energy, mobility, agricultural technology, machine learning and AI, and other technologies or processes adding value to engineering services. Picked from more than 120 applicants, seven start-ups were selected in September 2019 to join the program, run in collaboration with LaunchKC, a local non-profit. Participants are gaining valuable training and engineering insight to grow their business through collaboration with Black & Veatch professionals, as well as exposure and networking opportunities with experienced investors, supporters and clients. Start-ups include ecoSPEARS, which uses green technologies to extract and destroy polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and other chlorinated contaminants; NovoNutrients, which uses energy from hydrogen to transform waste carbon into protein for the aquaculture and animal feed industries; Aware Vehicles (smart drones); Infralytiks (AI data analytics for sustainable infrastructure improvement); and Extensible Energy, which specializes in cloud-based software that controls flexible loads to reduce demand and time-of-use energy charges in small- to medium-size buildings.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
Moody’s Corp. (New York, NY) for its acquisitions of majority stakes in Four Twenty Seven, Inc. (Berkeley, CA) and Vigeo Eiris (Paris, France). Four Twenty Seven is a leading provider of data, intelligence, and analysis related to physical climate risks. Its climate risk scores and portfolio analytics cover more than 2,000 listed companies, one million global corporate facilities, 320 real estate investment trusts (REITS), and 3,000 U.S. counties, and are used by asset owners, asset managers, banks and corporations. The acquisition of Four Twenty Seven, Inc. complements Moody’s acquisition of a majority stake in Vigeo Eiris, a leading provider of environmental and social governance (ESG) research, data, and assessments. Together, these acquisitions broaden Moody’s growing platform of risk assessment capabilities and underscore its work to advance global standards for assessing environmental and climate risk factors. In a related development, on July 10, 2019, Moody’s released its annual report in response to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an organization established by the Financial Stability Board to promote more informed financial decisions and to improve understanding of exposure to climate-related risk. Moody’s report mirrors the TCFD’s recommendations for climate disclosure and includes information on operations structured around four thematic areas—governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets.
The Ramboll Group (Copenhagen, Denmark) for its acquisition of the French climate change consultancy TEC Conseil. Founded in 2001, TEC develops methods to support climate research and climate change adaptation. It supports the implementation of mitigation policies, programs, and projects of public and private entities, delivering Inventories of greenhouse gas emissions, providing assistance in the development of mitigation strategies, performing the monitoring and assessment of emissions, and developing low carbon services, among others. TEC also works on adaptation projects and policies. The company, whose expertise will be integrated with Ramboll’s air quality services, is currently working on projects such as the European Union-funded Copernicus Climate Change Service and the Horizon 2020 European framework program. Ramboll now has more than 100 experts in France and 15,000 globally.
Anthesis Group (London, U.K.) for completing three acquisitions in the sustainability marketplace. Anthesis has merged with the 200-employee sustainability agency Lavola (Barcelona, Spain), thereby marking the group’s entry into the Spain, Andorra, and Colombia markets. Established in 1981, Lavola is one of the largest independent sustainability agencies in Spain. The acquisition followed two other deals completed earlier in 2019, including the February acquisition of GoodBrand (London, U.K.), a sustainability advisor to several companies, including Unilever, Danone, and Nestlé. Anthesis also acquired the assets of Made-By, a sustainability advisor to the apparel industry with offices in London, Amsterdam, and Dusseldorf. Anthesis has grown to more than 450 experts across 14 countries in five years and says that it’s continuing to achieve annual organic sales growth in excess of 25%.
Albireo Energy (Edison, N.J.), the building automation and energy services platform of Huron Capital, for completing deals with several entities in 2019 to expand the platform. In January, Albireo announced its merger with EMS Technologies, a smart-building solutions provider in the Greater Washington D.C. area. In September, Albireo acquired Environmental Energy Corp. (EEC; Deer Park, N.Y.), a provider of energy management systems for large commercial and higher education buildings. primarily in the New York City metropolitan area. The deal is the second tuck-in acquisition for Albireo’s New York division. In October, Albireo announced its acquisition of Bridge Power Consulting’s portfolio of customer contracts. Bridge Power Consulting was founded in 2013 by “deep domain” experts in the energy trading and market risk management business. Finally, in December, Albireo announced the acquisition of Quality Building Controls, Inc. (QBC), which provides building automation and systems integration services to clients throughout the Central Florida region. As a Johnson Controls partner, QBC offers state-of-the-art building automation technology services, system performance reviews, and control systems electrical installation integrating HVAC, lighting, and security systems. Huron Capital formed Albireo in 2014 to enter the U.S. market for energy efficiency, building automation, and energy management. Albireo has invested in 16 companies through 10 separate deals.
Willdan Group Inc. (Anaheim, Calif.) for its acquisitions of Energy and Environmental Economics Inc. (E3; San Francisco, CA) in a stock purchase and The Weidt Group (Minnetonka, MN), the energy practice division of EYP. E3 is a data-driven energy analysis and strategy-consulting firm employing more than 70 people in San Francisco, Boston, and New York and generating approximately $16 million in revenue in 2018. E3 has developed analytical tools in electricity resource planning, GHG scenario analysis, energy markets analysis, and demand-side resource valuation. The Weidt Group is an energy consulting and software development firm specializing in the energy and operational performance of new and existing buildings for utilities. It generated approximately $14 million in revenue in 2018.
Sunnova Energy International Inc. (Houston, TX) for raising approximately $170 million in an initial public offering (IPO) of common stock on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO was led by Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The shares are trading under the symbol “NOVA.” Backed by the private equity firm Energy Capital Partners, Sunnova operates in more than 20 U.S. markets and has more than 63,000 customers, offering solar leases and loans along with stand-alone energy-storage services. According to the IPO prospectus, the number of residential solar systems in the United States is expected to increase from approximately 2.2 million in 2018 to an estimated 5.4 million in 2024. Sunnova CEO John Berger reports that the capital raised through the IPO will help the company expand into new markets and grow its dealer network. The company reported a net loss of $68 million on revenue of $104.4 million in 2018, which represented an increase of 36% over 2017 revenue.
LevelTen Energy (Seattle, Wash.), a startup developing a platform that matches small- and medium-sized businesses with renewable energy suppliers, for helping Starbucks secure a three-project renewable energy portfolio from developers ALLETE Clean Energy, Apex Clean Energy, BayWa r.e., and Cypress Creek Renewables. The portfolio comprises wind and solar farms in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas, custom-built for Starbucks. LevelTen’s algorithms calculated which combination of project slices would offer Starbucks the ideal blend of risk mitigation, value creation, and local community engagement. The portfolio of power purchase agreements (PPAs) will supply more than 3,000 U.S. Starbucks stores and communities by 2021. In June, LevelTen Energy announced that it had raised $20.5 million in series B financing led by Prelude Ventures.
GameChange Solar (New York, N.Y.) for closing on an asset-based working capital line of credit to fund growth in the United States and overseas. Citi Commercial Banking is providing the financing. GameChange Solar said it has achieved profitability every year since its inception in 2012, becoming a market leader in the combined utility-scale solar structures and tracker market in the United States in 2019. The company expects sales of its Genius Tracker system to account for 30 GW of solar systems from 2020 to 2022, and its goal is to become the global leader with sales substantially in excess of $1 billion by 2022.