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Feature Spotlight: QA Report

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Published on March 14, 2016

Change Log

How much of your time in December and January is spent working out the kinks in your GHG data? For a lot of the agencies we've worked with, the number is quite high. Despite well-laid plans and careful work along the way, there will be mistakes made, changes required, or simple oversights during data collection and data entry. Maybe you thought your colleague sent you Natural Gas data in MMBtu, but it was actually in therms! Maybe someone just skipped one site's data as they copied it from a spreadsheet.

Whatever the case may be, small inaccuracies can be hard to identify. And when you make changes, especially if you're doing your GHG reporting by hand, it can be easy to lose track of them, especially if you've got a team of two or more people keeping separate versions of a document.

The CFT can help! Right off the bat, the fact that you're using the CFT gives you a built-in level of quality assurance through its centralized database. There's no concern of losing your changes, or your data year over year, since it's all in one place. We recently enhanced our Change Log feature, so you can even go back and see who made changes to which data! An example is shown in the screenshot below.

QA Report

Today we're here to tell you about another new feature: the QA Report. We added it to the tool in November, just in time for our users to use it to perform Quality Assurance on their FY15 data. The concept of this page is simple: show users how their data has changed since last year and highlight places where the data has changed significantly. This allows users to identify errors or missing data quickly and efficiently.

On the QA Report main page, every site in your organization is listed (as long as it has data sometime in the last 3 years). You can sort alphabetically, or you can sort by GHG emissions (Scope 1, Scope 2, Scope 3, or total) if you want to focus on your biggest facilities first.

You can use the filters to highlight the types of sites you're most interested in analyzing. For instance, the "Show Missing" filter will show only those sites that had data last year, but not this year. This can quickly identify sites that you've totally missed. You can also highlight sites that have gone way up or way down using the "Display Sites that have Increased/Decreased" filter and set the change threshold to your liking. This can help you find errors such as bad unit conversions: if a site is emitting 1000x the Scope 3 emissions as last year, chances are someone along the way read Mlbs as "thousand pounds" instead of "million pounds" (or vice-versa--those steam units are confusing!).

In order to help you keep track of your QA progress and decisions, we've put in a "Note and Verify" button. Clicking it will bring up a pop-up in which you can leave a note to yourself about this site's QA status. For instance, you may put something like, "Electricity usage increased by 20% this year; I looked into it and it's because of a new addition." In this case, you'd probably mark the site as "Verified", telling future-you that this site has been check out and requires no further changes. Then, you can use the "Show Not Yet Validated" filter to focus on the sites you still need to work with.

Finally, there are 3 views for this page. The default shows Absolute emissions, i.e. "810 MT CO2e were emitted this year, compared to 750 last year." You may decide that % difference is more useful, i.e. "at this site, Scope 1 emissions are up 40% since last year!" There is also absolute difference, i.e. "this site's scope 2 emissions are 40 MT CO2e lower than last year."

QA Report Drill-Down

In addition to the main page, there are three drill-down pages for each Site (one for each scope). You can intuitively access these pages by clicking on any of the numbers in the grid on the main page. On the drilldown page, you can see how each piece of that site's GHG profile has been changing over the last two years. Our intended use case for this feature was something like: "I notice that my HQ's Scope 2 emissions are 20% higher than last year. I click the drill-down, which shows me that Purchased Steam increased by 300%, but the rest of scope 2 has been stable. I have now identified the problem and can investigate why my Scope 2 total is so far off."

In fact, once, you're already here, you can just click on that suspicious Steam emission number, and the CFT will open the Steam data for that site in a new tab. You can open this year's data and last year's data, compare them side by side, and take action based on what you find!

That's the QA Report! In the future, we've considered expanding the functionality to include other data sources such as Renewable Project output, Fleet/FAST data, or Travel data. Let us know what you think or if you have any new ideas for how the CFT could help you perform Quality Assurance!