environmental sustainability

September 25, 2023

Public-private partnerships highlight the nation’s commitment to responsible carbon capture and storage practices by harnessing the potential of our natural surroundings to address climate change. Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta – a portion of the California Delta.

 

Taking a Critical Step Towards Net Zero Emissions Using Carbon Sequestration

The picturesque California Delta, often referred to as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is emerging as a geological sweet spot in California’s ambitious journey toward reaching net zero carbon emissions. Its unique geology presents a compelling case for carbon sequestration, an essential strategy in the battle against climate change. Recent developments, including a collaborative effort between SCS and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) on a Class VI permit application for Pelican Renewables – a company formed by Delta landowners and residents to pursue geologic storage – are indicative of the region’s growing importance in California’s carbon mitigation strategy.

Geological Foundations of Carbon Sequestration in the California Delta

The California Delta, often referred to as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is a vast inland delta formed by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries as they meet the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Its unique geology makes it an ideal candidate for carbon sequestration:

  1. Sedimentary Riches: The Delta’s subsurface predominantly comprises thick sedimentary deposits. These layers of sediment offer substantial storage capacity for carbon dioxide, providing an opportunity to trap and store emissions safely underground.
  2. Aquifers Beneath: Deep beneath the Delta’s surface lie extensive brine aquifers, isolated from the atmosphere. These natural reservoirs can serve as secure carbon storage sites, with a proven ability to hold CO2 securely over geologic time.
  3. Stability Amidst Earthquakes: The Delta region is seismically inactive compared to other parts of California. This geological stability is vital for the long-term integrity of carbon storage sites.
  4. Proximity to CO2 Sources: The Delta’s strategic location in close proximity to many major emission sources, including industrial facilities and urban centers like Sacramento and San Francisco, reduces transportation costs and emissions associated with moving captured CO2.

 

California’s Net Zero Carbon Goal and Carbon Sequestration in the Delta

California has set an ambitious goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045, a milestone in the fight against climate change. Achieving this objective necessitates reducing emissions and actively removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon sequestration in the California Delta can play a pivotal role in this endeavor. The Delta’s geological potential aligns seamlessly with the state’s commitment to sustainable practices and environmental responsibility.

Collaborative Efforts: SCS and LLNL’s Support for Pelican Renewables’ Class VI Permit Application

The collaboration between SCS Engineers and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) that supported geologic characterization, modeling, and CO2 injection simulation for Pelican Renewables’ injection well application underscores the importance of pursuing carbon sequestration in the California Delta. The Class VI permit application underlines Pelican’s commitment to conducting carbon capture and storage (CCS) activities with the highest safety and environmental standards. This initiative is a testament to the growing synergy between scientific research and private enterprise in addressing climate challenges.

References and Further Reading

For a deeper dive into California’s carbon removal options for reaching net zero, “Getting to Neutral” by LLNL is a valuable resource. This publication outlines the various strategies and technologies under research to achieve California’s ambitious carbon reduction goals, including carbon sequestration in regions like the California Delta. The most recent “Scoping Plan” by the California Air Resources Board – the state’s policy blueprint for achieving its climate goals – underscores the need to capture and store CO2 from large sources and the atmosphere.

Our Conclusions

The California Delta’s geological attributes make it an attractive destination for carbon sequestration, a critical component in California’s mission to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Collaborative endeavors like SCS’s ongoing partnership with LLNL and Pelican Renewables highlight the commitment to responsible carbon capture and storage practices. As we continue to innovate and harness the potential of our natural surroundings, the California Delta’s role in addressing climate change becomes increasingly evident and essential.

 

Carbon Sequestration Considerations & Resources

 

gary vancilAbout the Author: Gary Vancil is an SCS project director and geologist supporting the environmental firm’s safe carbon sequestration and deep well injection practice. He earned his MS and BS in Geosciences with an emphasis in resource geology at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. Mr. Vancil’s expertise also covers resource development, extraction, and mining sub-surface investigations for the nation’s largest privately held mining company. If you’d like to learn more or have questions, reach Gary at or LinkedIn.

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

March 1, 2023

SCS Engineers - Lowering Carbon Footprint
The maturity of many industrial plants and changing composition of the industrial sector’s industrial energy consumption represents a considerable opportunity for energy efficiency and lowering your carbon footprint.

 

Energy Savings Add Up – Improving Industrial Carbon Footprint

Businesses know they can significantly improve their bottom line by reducing operating costs. One way to reduce costs and carbon footprint is through energy efficiency upgrades – particularly in an industrial environment. Energy cost savings directly impact the bottom line and can increase profit margins. For example, 5% to 15% annual energy cost reductions can be realized by conducting a retro-commissioning project to optimize your facility’s mechanical systems. The up-front cost of the retro-commissioning project is normally within a 1 to 2-year simple payback. So, to realize these financial benefits, here are some general tips demonstrating the benefits of implementing energy cost-saving projects.

 

Cost & Revenue

Let’s start with a simple example. Say a company has a net profit of 5% and would like to increase its net profit. There are generally two ways to do this; either increase revenue or decrease costs.   If your business were to look at reducing costs by implementing an energy project that would save them $1,000 annually, that would be equivalent to otherwise earning an additional $20,000 in revenue ($1000/0.05 = $20,000).   An energy efficiency project of this type has the same impact on profits as increasing sales 20:1.

 

Net-Positive Cash-Flow

If the energy project has a return greater than the borrowing rate, then you can finance the project, and you may improve cash flow with relatively little risk. Let’s say a business finances an energy project with a $100,000 loan for 15 years at an interest rate of 10%. Your business has no up-front cost, but pays ~$13,100 each year for 15 years. The energy project you were considering was calculated to generate ~$14,900 each year in annual energy cost savings. Since the energy cost savings exceed the financed payments, the project exhibits a net-positive cash flow of $1,800 annually with no upfront costs.

 

Simple Payback vs IRR Fallacy

Simple payback is an important financial consideration under many circumstances in conjunction with the Internal Rate of Return (IRR). If an energy project has an IRR greater than your business’s profit margin, energy cost-savings projects are where you should invest money. For example, suppose a business has determined they will consider energy projects with a 2% return above their net profit of 4.0% (i.e., anything >6.0%). In that case, an energy project with a lifespan of 20 years and an IRR of 6.5% fits their financial goals. In this scenario, the project’s simple payback is irrelevant to the goal of returning an established minimum IRR. Had the company insisted on a 2- to 3-year simple payback, an opportunity that could have far exceeded their financial expectations, would have been overlooked.

 

Penalty vs. Reward

Consider looking at energy costs differently than currently viewing them. Energy savings realized from a potential energy project are conversely an existing waste stream (a penalty). By doing nothing, the excess energy consumption continues to drain your operating cash every month, not to mention the impact on your carbon footprint. Reducing energy costs and eliminating energy waste can add to a business’s operations’ efficiencies and impress shareholders looking for a lower carbon footprint.

 

lowering the industrial carbon footprint - SCS Engineers
Electricity is a critical component of industrial infrastructure presenting energy-saving opportunities – examples shown are a lauter tun, HVAC, and process system fan.

 

Energy Savings Opportunities

How can you realize energy and cost savings benefits without knowing where to turn next? The first step under the umbrella of energy management is to perform a formal study to identify energy savings opportunities accomplished through an Energy Assessment. The Energy Assessment looks at how energy is consumed at your facility and, through the formal process, will provide you with the fundamental knowledge you need to make a case for implementing energy cost-saving projects. From there, you can work with the decision-makers to prioritize energy savings in your business. Below are a few ideas that may make sense for your business and lower your carbon footprint:

  • Consider replacing outdated lighting equipment with new lighting systems can be a fast and extremely efficient way to save energy and money.
  • Conduct a compressed air audit and a compressed air leak survey to save on one of the most inefficient systems in your facility.
  • Discover significant energy savings by assessing your process heating and cooling systems. Different forms of energy recovery might be suitable for your process systems, and they can help reduce your energy costs.
  • Work with a Retro-Commissioning (RCx) consultant and focus on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Upgrading or properly controlling the components can be a very effective way to reduce energy costs.

 

Building system performance can decline, and energy consumption can increase over time, even when performing routine maintenance on equipment. However, you can increase productivity, improve work environments, and reduce maintenance costs while saving money by conducting an energy assessment and investing in your business’s discovered energy savings opportunities.

 

 

About the authors:

Samuel CookeSam Cooke, PE, CEM, is a Vice President and Project Director at SCS Engineers. He has over 40 years of engineering experience specializing in manufacturing energy management assessments and implementation projects. Sam was the technical lead for projects involving the performance of energy assessments at over 100 manufacturing companies, including compressed air audits, compressed air leak surveys, process heating assessments, manufacturing HVAC assessments, lighting assessments/replacement, refrigeration efficiency assessments, etc.

 

Tony KrielTony Kriel, PE, LEED AP, is SCS Engineers’ National Expert on Facility Energy Management. He has 13 years of consulting experience as a mechanical engineer. His project experience includes specializing in Cx, RCx, ASHRAE Level I-III energy audits, and other design-related energy services. Tony has managed multiple large (>million square foot) projects and has worked with industrial, commercial, military, federal, state, municipal, and solid waste clients. He is a LEED Accredited Professional AP BD+C, and LEED AP O+M. His projects include Commissioning (Cx), Retro-Commissioning (RCx), ASHRAE Energy Audits, Energy Modeling, Geothermal Feasibility and Design, and Solar PV.

 

SCS Engineers specializes in industrial energy assessments and water conservation evaluations. For more information, please get in touch with Sam Cooke PE, CEM, Tony Kriel PE, LEED AP, or

 

Additional Resources:

  • The U.S. has nearly 200,000 factories, refineries, steel mills, and other industrial plants that consume approximately 30 Quadrillion Btu annually to process raw materials and make the products we use daily–accounting for about 32% of domestic energy use. The maturity of many industrial plants and changing composition of the industrial sector’s industrial energy consumption represents a considerable opportunity for energy efficiency. (World Bank Indicators)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

December 15, 2022

Meet SCS Engineers professionals at BOOTH 403 at the Air & Waste Management Association’s (A&WMA) 116th Annual Conference & Exhibition (ACE 2023), June 5-8, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida.

“Smart Growth: Balancing Development, Restoration, and Resiliency” is this year’s theme.  Florida’s abundant coastline, diverse ecosystem, and perennial vacation destination faces unique challenges with respect to impacts from weather, sea-level rise, and other pressures brought on by a growing population. Florida is committed to meeting this challenge through many diverse minds working to plan and adapt to change—in short, to grow smarter and build a more resilient world. The Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) will welcome the world’s leading environmental experts, thinkers, and practitioners to Orlando to address environmental challenges, discuss strategies and solutions to climate change, sustainability, new contaminants, and other issues that call for balancing growth with sustainability and resiliency.

Several professionals from SCS Engineers are presenting at the conference, including:

Ketan Shah – “Sustainability – Analysis and Case Studies” Platform Chair [Tues, June 6, 1:30 – 3:30 pm, Blue Spring I/II], including
“Single Use Plastic Bottle Emissions Using Life Cycle Assessment for the States: Challenges, Impact and Recommendations” [2:10 – 2:30 pm]

Stephanie Taylor – “How Does It Work? Air Modeling Fundamentals” [Tues, June 6, 4:00 – 6:00 pm, Florida C]

Ketan Shah – “Decision Support Tool Process Module for Municipal Solid Waste Collection and Transportation for Developing Countries”
[Wed, June 7, 10:50 – 11:10 am, Blue Spring I/II]

Leslie Smith & Karinne Brown – “Mitigation Efforts during CDV Assessment” [Wed, June 7, 1:50 -2:10 pm, Blue Spring I/II]

David Greene & Mary Kennamer – “Landfills and Landfill Gas” [Thurs, June 8, 10:10 – 11:50 am, Blue Spring I/II]

Mary Kennamer – “Biogas Generation” Platform Co-Chair [Thurs, June 8, 1:40 – 4:00 pm, Blue Spring I/II]

 

ACE 2023 will unite professionals from major industry, private sector, consulting, government and academia for an exciting event that will explore the ever-expanding environmental challenges and provide solutions to becoming and remaining resilient for tomorrow. This is an ideal opportunity for professionals to share their knowledge to advance the industry, and for environmental companies to showcase their products, services, and solutions with professionals motivated to build a more resilient and sustainable world.

Visit https://www.awma.org/ace2023 for registration information and conference details. 

 

 

Posted by Laura Dorn at 6:21 pm

March 15, 2022

SCS Engineers Environmental Consulting and Contracting

 

Recycling and reuse started in 1987 and continues today with cities embracing public-private partnerships with their recycling processors. They recognize the vital and interrelated role of both the public and private sectors in recovering recyclables. In the U.S., manufacturing and end-use markets are seeing more demand for recyclable materi­als. Companies are held accountable for misleading advertising instead of changing packaging or labeling how to recycle clearly.

Through leadership, innovation, and strate­gic planning, cities continue to help lead the way on recycling to achieve landfill diversion and provide for more environmental­ly and financially sustainable solid waste management systems for the next 30 years.

Read more from the authors of this up-lifting article, The Journey of Recycling, in the March edition of APWA.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

March 8, 2022

lincoln scs

 

The City of Lincoln’s Trans­portation and Utilities (LTU) Department/Solid Waste Man­agement Division manages all solid waste generated within its service area to protect the public’s health, safety, welfare, and environment. They do so cost-effectively and in compliance with its solid waste management plan, Solid Waste Plan 2040. The plan, updated in 2020 through a process facilitated by SCS Engineers, produces remarkably good results.

The City undertook a comprehensive residential and commer­cial recycling communication, education, engagement, and behavior change initiative.

Read more about Lincoln’s success and see results in this APWA article (March 2022 edition).

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am