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Diving into the data as an air quality specialist

Diving into the data as an air quality specialist

Melissa Savcic is a senior air quality specialist out of Barr’s Denver, Colorado, office. With more than 15 years of experience in environmental, health, and safety data management in the oil and gas industry, Melissa specializes in Environmental Management Information System (EMIS) customization. Here, we chat with Melissa about the importance of this in-demand, data-driven career.

How did you become interested in working with emissions and air quality?

Fresh out of college, I first thought I would be working in the field. But, as time went on, my professional journey took a different turn and led me toward a path centered around technical support. I started working with a civil aerospace subsidiary where I was part of the environmental team tracking inspections, incidents, waste, water, and air data. When I transitioned to working at a multinational environmental health and safety consultancy firm, I spent a sizeable portion of my time implementing Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) software on a global scale for an oil and gas company. Since I enjoyed managing databases, I changed jobs to work at a software company, whose best software function is performing air calculations. Since then, managing air regulatory requirements and compliance has been the most significant demand for the past seven years of my career.

What role does EMIS customization play in oil and gas projects?

Organizations are moving toward supporting their environmental and business strategy with automatic, scheduled, and event-driven tools for monitoring real-time data.

Even the smaller oil and gas companies typically operate a range of 50 to 300 facilities, each of which contains an average of 30 to 60 pieces of equipment, such as engines, flares, and tanks. These equipment types are subject to various federal and state regulatory requirements. However, relying on Excel spreadsheets to manage all this data has become unsustainable. Therefore, we use third-party software to effectively handle our EH&S data.

"Organizations are moving toward supporting their environmental and business strategy with automatic, scheduled, and event-driven tools for monitoring real-time data."

For greater accuracy, we have established integrations with other systems or meters that allow us to more precisely track runtime, throughput, barrels, temperature, and pressure. Field inspections are conducted using mobile devices, and the collected information is seamlessly imported back into the software. We are capable of generating agency-specific reports in the exact format required for export.

Moreover, we have implemented real-time notifications to promptly alert us when emissions exceed the permitted limits, when there are gaps or issues in the data, when a task becomes overdue, or when a work order is created. This proactive approach helps us maintain compliance and promptly address any concerns or tasks that require attention.

What does your typical workweek look like?

I am the project manager for multiple oil and gas projects. I primarily focus on managing databases for clients, implementing automation, addressing data gaps, resolving issues, and adapting configurations to meet new regulatory requirements. Most of my work involves non-routine tasks, and I am fortunate to have an excellent team to collaborate with. My daily work can be categorized into three primary areas:

  1. Troubleshooting is a constant aspect of my job. For instance, if there is a sudden lack of data at a tank, I investigate potential causes, such as unit changes or integration errors.

  2. I specialize in problem-solving and creating automation to streamline processes. When a client presents a problem, like the need to track fugitive emission factors, I work closely with them to understand the requirements. I develop SQL scripts in Asset and Compliance Tracking System (ACTS) to automate calculations based on equipment count and apply appropriate default values. This eliminates the previous manual calculations done in spreadsheets, resulting in significant time savings.

  3. I handle air-specific reporting requirements during reporting season, such as greenhouse gas, emission inventories, and year-round rolling 12 requirements. This involves generating data gap reports to identify any missing information, developing new calculations, updating emission factors, analyzing operational data, and integrating with other systems to retrieve relevant data.

What motivates you?

I derive immense satisfaction from delivering high-quality work. I thoroughly enjoy problem-solving and optimizing processes. I am not hesitant to retrospectively analyze projects to identify areas for improvement. I strive to be proactive in my approach and anticipate potential obstacles. Building trust and being highly valued by clients is a priority for me. Additionally, I find great fulfillment in mentoring others and witnessing their professional growth.

What do you find challenging about your work?

A notable challenge we face is the diversity of processes, data sources, and methods employed by each client when it comes to data collection, reporting, and permitting. As a result, we need to maintain flexibility and creativity in our approach to address this variety of work requirements.

What brought you to Barr, and what do you like most about working for Barr?

I came to Barr in May 2019 when Marquez Environmental Services, Inc. (MESI) staff joined Barr. A few of the things I like most about working at Barr are the flexibility and comp time (time off or pay for any extra time worked). I have challenging projects where I am constantly thinking about the best solution, which is fun. I have great clients and enjoy working with everyone.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Traveling is a big hobby of mine, and I have visited 34 countries so far. I find great pleasure in being outdoors and enjoy snowboarding, rock climbing, yoga, and biking. But I also enjoy city life, where I can explore places on foot or by bike. You might spot me attending new art openings or eating at a rooftop restaurant with a great view. When I am at home unwinding, I like playing guitar, reading, honing my language skills with Rosetta Stone, and taking care of my garden.

Interested in joining the Barr team? Check out our open positions.

About Melissa Savcic

Melissa Savcic, senior air quality specialist, has more than 15 years of experience with environmental, health, and safety data management in the oil and gas industry. She specializes in environmental management information system (EMIS) customization, implementation, and integration, including managing bulk uploads and data mapping; writing Oracle SQL scripts for generating regulatory reports; configuring interfaces; and creating automatic feeds. She also assists clients with greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs, rolling-12-month emissions, and emissions inventory reporting.

Image gallery (below):

  1. Melissa goes sandboarding with her husband at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

  2. On her honeymoon, Melissa enjoyed Greek-island hopping.

  3. Melissa rock climbs in Clear Creek Canyon, just outside of Denver.


Melissa Savcic, Senior Air Quality Specialist
Melissa Savcic
Senior Air Quality Specialist
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