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From Field to Final Report: Using Technology to Modernize Environmental Consulting

A generation ago, conventional wisdom said things should be built to last. But with the explosion of technology ever the past couple of decades, businesses of all types are learning they must be built to change.

This includes the environmental consulting and services industry. Leaders in this industry have learned to adapt their high-touch business model to incorporate technology in ways that strengthens client relations and elevate the client experience.

ONE Environmental has strategically embraced a variety of technology, putting the latest software and hardware to use in our everyday work environment. For us, collaboration and transparency are table stakes. We deliver on our mission by effectively collaborating and communicating across geographies, both in-house and with our clientele.

More than five years ago, we started transitioning to cloud services, making our mission-critical apps available anywhere from our laptops and wireless cards. With satellite offices spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, these devices gave us a streamlined approach to keep everyone connected, mobile, and with secure access to important files.

The satellite office strategy further extended our ability to recruit and retain talent in local markets. In-house messaging and file sharing applications also supported our collaborative nature, particularly when teams in two separate locations work on shared projects.

Today, ONE Environmental continues to use the latest technology to enhance our valued employees’ work/life balance and further define of our technical prowess. For our clients, this ultimately translates into faster turn-around times and more cost-effective deliverables.

ONE’s usage of mobile apps and cloud services also leads to streamlined communication, file sharing, and collaboration externally with clients. Large files are seamlessly transferred and living files are set up so clientele can follow progress in real time – from the field to the office. 

Here are a few examples of applications the ONE Environmental team currently uses:

  • XForms – A powerful field data collection tool.
  • Airtable – For cloud collaboration.
  • Quire – Great project management tool for remote teams.
  • Microsoft Teams – The business communication platform built into Microsoft 365.
  • Slack – The messaging platform designed for business.
  • QNOPY – A mobile data collection app that takes, stores, and validates environmental field data.
  • TeamGantt – A cloud-based Gantt chart and project planning tool.

And we’re just getting started. As technology continues to evolve, we’ve positioned ourselves to change with it and take full advantage of it for clients. We’ve solidified relationships with application developers who can build custom apps for clients to track compliance, field services, decommissioning, commissioning, and other activities, to name a few.

More than ever, technology is crucial in our day-to-day operations, ensuring our clients get maximum value and results from their relationship with ONE Environmental.

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Environmental Reporting Deadlines: Know What and When to Stay Compliant

Facility operators are subject to a dizzying array of environmental reporting requirements. Many are waste and chemical related, some focus on water impacts, and still others target air emissions. Navigating the ins and outs of the various reports is a daunting task, even for the most adept operators.

It’s not just a matter of what goes into each report, it’s also important to understand when those reports must be submitted. Penalties and fines can be steep for operators who lose track of reporting deadlines and let their programs slip out of compliance.

Following is a brief summary of just a few of the major reporting requirements and deadlines that the ONE Environmental team can help operators manage, prepare for, and submit:

EPCRA Reporting: Tier II (Section 312) Due March 1 annually, TRI (Section 313) Due July 1 annually.

Passed in 1986, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) addresses chemical-related safety and environmental concerns, specifically around how hazardous chemicals are stored and handled. In general, Tier II reporting is required under Section 312 of EPCRA for any facility with 10,000 pounds or more of a hazardous chemical at any one point in a calendar year. Note that certain chemicals may have lower thresholds. Also, other sections of the EPCRA have different reporting requirements. For example, Section 313 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting is due annually on July 1st, Section 302 notifications are due within 60 days after receiving a chemical shipment or producing a hazardous substance and Section 304 release notifications must be made immediately

RCRA Biennial Reporting for LGQs: Due March 1 of even years.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) has its own set of reporting requirements related to hazardous wastes. All RCRA Large Quantity Generators (LGQs) of hazardous waste in most states must file a Biennial (every other year) Report. This report is due each even year for the previous odd year’s hazardous waste generation. Keep in mind that this is a biennial report, and it is only required for Large Quantity Generators. Facilities that are generating within Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG) or Small Quantity Generator (SQG) limits are exempt from this particular reporting requirement.

EPA Refrigerant Reporting: Due March 1 annually.

The EPA requires facilities to document and retain service and maintenance records for certain appliances containing refrigerants, depending on the unit type and refrigerant capacity. Facilities are also required to submit a report to the EPA by March 1st of each year for specific types of units, if in the calendar year 125% of the unit’s capacity is added to the appliance.

EPA Air Reporting Requirements: Due annually.

The EPA’s Air Emissions Reporting Requirements (AERR) authorize state and local agencies to collect and submit emissions data each year. This includes Air Emissions Inventories that are due to state agencies usually by March 1st. Most states require these to be submitted electronically or online. Some facility operators must submit reports under the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) that cover emissions from the prior calendar year that are due by March 31st of each year. In addition, Annual Compliance Certification (ACC) under the EPA’s Title V air quality requirement must be submitted to many state agencies and the EPA by March 1st of each year.

It’s easy to lose track of the myriad of annual environmental compliance report submittal requirements. The ONE team is highly skilled in providing guidance and assistance throughout the entire reporting process. Contact us to discuss your specific environmental reporting requirements and how we can help you keep your programs compliant and give you some valuable reporting peace of mind.

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Not so PFAS: Emerging Contaminants Increasingly a Factor in Due Diligence

A class of emerging containments known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, has been getting an increasing amount of attention at all levels of government and the media lately. These human-made substances are described as “forever chemicals” given the way they can linger in the environment for decades without breaking down.

Unfortunately, they can also persist in the human body for long periods of time and are linked to several types of cancer, infertility, thyroid problems and other ailments. In June of 2022, the U.S. EPA issued guidance indicating that PFAS chemicals pose a greater health threat than originally thought.

Chemical companies have been using PFAS compounds to create a variety of products including nonstick cookware, cosmetics, moisture-repellent fabrics and fire-fighting foam. As reported by local media, PFAS was in the foam that was used to suppress the fire on the doomed Spirit of Norfolk harbor cruise ship near ONE Environmental’s Tidewater, Virginia location.

Until recently, PFAS was not necessarily a material issue for those performing due diligence during property transactions. Things began to change in late 2021, when the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) issued a new Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) standard that included guidance on considering PFAS in completing an ESA. The new standard, ASTM E1527-21, officially took effect on January 1, 2022.

In March of 2022, the EPA published a direct final rule to incorporate ASTM E1527-21 into “all appropriate inquiries” (AAI) procedures. However, the EPA did not change reference to the previous standard, ASTM E1527-13, nor did it amend AAI regulation. This means that for now, a commercial property stakeholder can follow either standard depending on their tolerance for risk, past property use, and other factors.

For example, buyers of property where there is low likelihood of historical PFAS use may be willing to assume more risk and follow the faster, less costly ASTM E1527-13 standard. Risk-averse purchasers, especially at properties where PFAS was potentially used at the property, may choose to follow the ASTM E1527-21 standard.

The rules can be confusing, since technically, the inclusion of PFAS in in ASTM E1527-21 is not quite a requirement yet. But the writing is on the wall, and prudent stakeholders would do well to start considering PFAS in their due diligence practices immediately.

ONE Environmental has vast expertise in due diligence processes, supporting clients all over the United States. Our team stands ready to help stakeholders navigate the complexity of the various standards and make the best possible decisions for their requirements.

Seth Manis

Environmental Consultant

An interest in the sciences and a love for the outdoors prompted Seth Manis to study environmental science at Randolph-Macon College, where he also played soccer. He graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a Biology minor.

“At first I wanted to do something in physical therapy, but then I realized I wanted to major in environmental studies because of the interdisciplinary approach that involves so many scientific backgrounds,” he said.

The fall after graduation, Seth was an Extractions Lead at Air Water & Soil Laboratories, Inc. Today as an Environmental Consultant with ONE Environmental Group, he works with that lab in the sampling he does for clients.

“The company and a lot of firms around the area use that lab regularly,” he said. “It’s cool to have seen both sides in terms of the analytical portion and now the consulting side.”

After a year at another Richmond consulting firm, Seth joined ONE’s Richmond office in July 2022. He enjoys the company vibe, noting, “I like being part of a team where you’re constantly being appreciated by the team. It’s a close-knit environment and inclusive. Everyone wants to do a good job.”

Seth brings experience in due diligence, erosion sediment control, stormwater management, drone work, and industrial hygiene. He holds the following licenses/certifications: AHERA Asbestos Inspector, FAA Remote Pilot, OSHA 40-Hour HAZWOPER, Provisional ESC Inspector, Provisional Lead Inspector License and Provisional SWM Inspector.

Outside of work, Seth and his girlfriend, Susan, enjoy spending time outdoors with their two rescue dogs, Dixie and Ollie. Seth is an avid freshwater angler who regularly competes in fishing tournaments with his father.

Paige Davis, PE

Project Manager

Environmental Engineer Paige Davis joined ONE Environmental Group in July 2022. Since graduating from Mercer University, she has had a hand in every aspect of environmental consulting and looks forward to overseeing multiple projects for ONE. Paige is a PE, licensed in Georgia and Alabama.

The Cleveland native moved to Cumming, Georgia, with her family for high school after her father accepted a job there. Excelling in math and science led her to major in environmental engineering at Mercer University. “It was a chemistry-based program, and my brain is very analytical,” Paige said.

She interned at her previous company, an environmental consulting firm in Macon, before being hired full time in 2013. She transitioned to ONE shortly after she and husband Brad relocated to Alpharetta, Georgia, an easy distance for visiting her parents and younger siblings.

“I like working for a smaller company where the focus is quality work and developing quality employees,” Paige said. “One of the reasons I left my previous company was it was acquired by a big corporation. The corporate lifestyle is really not my thing.”

Paige and Brad have one daughter, Piper, who will turn 2 later this year. Her offbeat hobby is creating balloon garlands, an idea that started when she made her first for her sister’s bridal shower. She also had fun making another for Piper’s first birthday. That fills the creative niche for Paige, who considered interior design at a young age before realizing she was a better fit for engineering.

Aaron Bottoms

Environmental Consultant II

Aaron Bottoms recently ONE Environmental Group’s Richmond office, where he embraces the diversity of a role that includes due diligence, erosion sediment control, drone surveying, water sampling and renewing permits. 

Aaron dreamed of being a professional musician as a music major with a concentration in trumpet classical performance at VCU. His excellence on trumpet earned him a spot on The Peppas, the VCU pep band that travels nationally for athletic events. Despite his passion, Aaron didn’t want to commit his entire life to making a career in the music industry. He transitioned into an entirely different path, going to work at an environmental recovery company. 

“Working with hydrocarbon and oil spills, cleaning up hoppers and coal tunnels — it was a messy, dirty, hot job,” he said. “It took me about a year until I found a more rounded position in the environmental field where I could split my time between the office and the outdoors.” 

Aaron worked with several ONE team members, who are now his peers, at his previous position as an environmental specialist for a mineral mining company.  

“There are a lot of young people in the company who I can talk with and relate to and just enjoy being around,” he said. “That’s what originally drew me to ONE.” 

Aaron and his wife, Allison, are newlyweds and avid animal lovers. They have two dogs, a black Labrador Retriever named Bella and a chocolate Lab, June, who doubles as Aaron’s hunting companion. They also own a former feral kitten named Littlefoot that Aaron rescued, and a three-legged kitty named Theo that Allison rescued.  As an outdoors enthusiast, Aaron operates a YouTube channel that focuses on hunting and is preparing to launch a second that will review outdoor gear.