A digital twin approach for monitoring and control of permission related emissions


Management Summary 

Permitting requirements and regulations like the corporate sustainability reporting directive (CSRD) increasingly require companies to put more attention to collecting relevant data, report on them and use the insights to make improvements. With the changing requirements (e.g. moving towards one point of contact for all permit related topics) and the growing attention of stakeholders and the society in general it becomes more challenging for management to decide which direction to choose and how to implement solutions to support the chosen direction. 

It is not new that companies are obligated to disclose information about the impact of their activities on people and the environment. In parallel corporates are urged to look for opportunities to decrease or change their energy consumption and reduce or compensate the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. From a regulatory perspective historically so called ‘end-of-pipe’ monitoring and solution approaches were preferred. New regulations, permitting requirements and a growing emphasis on embedding sustainability in the organizational strategy have pivoted the focus to process-integrated approaches. Many companies do not have continuous emission monitoring and related reporting capabilities in place. Defining a strategy on how to handle both from a business process perspective, is an important starting point for an integrated approach.  

Therefore, emission monitoring and reporting is more than implementing a BI or reporting tool to measure certain output parameters and facilitate regulatory responsibilities. Increasingly near to real-time approaches in which mass balancing, tracing and tracking and energy and emission monitoring are combined are being developed and used. These allow meeting the combination of reporting and improvement requirements. Using Digital Twins is a good example of how to accomplish these integrated solutions. With the deep domain knowledge of our business lines and our digital consultancy capabilities we can support you to evaluate where process-integrated approaches and digital twins create value for your organization.  


Clients across various sectors, including process industries and real estate, face the imperative of measuring and reporting their environmental emissions. This includes emissions to air, water and soil and encompass carbon dioxide, nitrogenous compounds, potentially hazardous chemicals, noise, dust, effluents containing hazardous components, etc. Energy consumption and transportation may cause emissions by third parties, which may have to be allocated to the own balances as well. The purpose behind such reporting is twofold: to comply with regulations and secure necessary licenses, both of which involve critical process indicators and key performance indicators.  

Providing Accurate Information 

    Fulfilling the obligations is far from straightforward. Questions are what and how to report, and based on which data? Are direct measurements required or can derived data be used as well? 

    Another hurdle lies in the dynamic nature of the question, where asset data and operational data undergo continuous changes. This dynamic environment necessitates the need for process-integrated, high-quality insights into emissions, which are increasingly becoming essential for compliance and optimal performance. 

    The Quest for Real-Time Insights 

    To address these challenges effectively, the demand for real-time insights has surged. Businesses require near to real-time information, enabling them to make informed decisions promptly. Consequently, harnessing these insights requires leveraging different disciplines and capabilities to gain a comprehensive understanding of emissions. 

The Call for a Cross-Functional Approach 

The challenge is twofold: On one hand the knowledge about and experience with reporting requirements is a challenge (the content side). On the other hand, determining business requirements, the related functional requirements for the solution and the solution architecture in a structured way (the process side) will be a challenge, as often these capabilities aren’t available inhouse. Being able to combine both capabilities is paramount to achieve the optimum result. 

The quest for real-time data is not merely limited to a single department or business unit but demands an integral approach. Addressing the complexities of environmental emission reporting calls for a collective effort from diverse disciplines and business units within an organization. Combining expertise from various departments allows companies to gain a holistic grasp of emissions data. The collaboration between legal experts, environmental experts, data analysts, process engineers, and technology specialists becomes crucial in providing accurate, up-to-date information. 

Leveraging Technology 

The enabling role of technology is crucial in streamlining this process. Advanced data collection tools, measurement devices, and real-time monitoring systems play a pivotal role in capturing emissions data efficiently. These technological advancements enable organizations to monitor emissions continuously, ensuring that compliance can be met promptly, and environmental impact is mitigated effectively. 


Business Intelligence (BI) is often regarded as a viable solution for emission monitoring. However, we believe that BI represents only a fraction of the answer. Achieving effective emission monitoring requires companies to undergo comprehensive transitions and establish necessary capabilities and governance, addressing multiple areas within their organization. This includes defining and optimizing processes and systems, integrating digital solutions, and ensuring high-quality data management. Only then the full potential of BI and suitable BI tools can be harnessed to obtain accurate insights and foresights into your emissions. 

Integrated solutions, such as digital twins, offer a robust foundation for emission monitoring. These solutions rely on well-established business and IT architectures, ensuring seamless integration with existing systems. Additionally, they prioritize high data quality standards, guaranteeing reliable and trustworthy emissions data. Moreover, a user-centric approach is central to these solutions, tailoring the user experience to meet the needs of different stakeholder groups both within and beyond the organization. 

Our Expertise  

We support companies through transitions to an integrated and comprehensive emissions monitoring - step by step in an understandable, secure, iterative and controlled way. With each step of the transition, we aim to deliver tangible added value to your organization to unlock the full potential of BI and process-integrated solutions, to gain accurate insights and foresights into your environmental impact to get control over your emissions monitoring and reporting requirements. 

Our consulting expertise includes digital twins, enterprise architecture, data, and customer experience - all of which are crucial capabilities for implementing emission monitoring to meet permitting and reporting requirements and identify sustainable opportunities.   

Digital twins

An important discipline for emission monitoring is setting up digital twins. “A digital twin is a dynamic virtual representation of physical assets, processes, and/or systems.” A Digital Twin can be used for understanding (and interacting with) the actual world and shaping the future world.


Within digital twins we see three types of digital twins

  • Operational digital twins: for the use of real-time data for operation and maintenance on As Built assets. Used within the operational phase of the lifecycle of assets.
  • Simulation digital twins: for imagineering and optioneering best solutions considering new imaginary assets and processes with a system. Used in the design phase within the lifecycle of assets.
  • Asset digital twins: for delivering information products (datasets) based on non-real-time operational data and available via data catalogues. 

These twins encompass a central element known as the "twin core," a virtual representation of assets, processes, and systems. In other words: “a company's configuration”. This core manages all relevant data concerning assets and processes within systems. Based on stakeholder engagement and the identification of relevant use cases, we can design and build digital twins. While operational twins are imperative for emission control, we can start with a coarse-grained level of information need without 3D modelling for instance. 

The level of information need is a very important aspect, where close cooperation with domain experts is needed. Our approach to digital twin consultancy boasts years of experience across diverse sectors: Watertech, process industry, transport (rail and more) and maritime (harbours).

Enterprise architecture

Setting up an enterprise architecture (or business & IT architecture) is essential to comprehend the necessary capabilities for an organization, including services, processes, and systems, to achieve its objectives. In combination with system engineering, it becomes an even more effective discipline, providing oversight and insights into the current (As Is) and desired (To Be) architectures, (functional) architectural building blocks and realizing solution building blocks. For instance, in the context of emission monitoring, enterprise architecture forms the foundation for designing solutions such as digital twins. It enables scoping of all relevant systems necessary for effective emission monitoring.

With over 30 years of experience to build enterprise architectures, we are recognized as the number 1 expert in the Netherlands in this discipline for several years already. 


High-quality data plays a pivotal role in ensuring reliable emission monitoring and informed decision-making. Robust data management and governance, driven by cross-functional competencies, are essential. This may involve establishing ownership of data and introducing new roles like data engineers, data analysts, data stewards, and analytical translators within your organization. 

We have an extensive experience and track record with assisting organizations in setting up and operationalizing data management and governance. Through our academy, we offer training to individuals, corporates, and industry associations, empowering them to implement robust data management practices and processes. 

Customer and employee experience CEX

Data in its raw format does not care how it looks and if it follows the FAIR principles of Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable. However, when visualizing data, the importance of customer and employee experience becomes evident. Understanding the distinct customer journeys of relevant stakeholders and creating clear, impactful dashboard visualizations are crucial for analytics and effective data communication. 

Our experienced team of CEX consultants excels in setting up customer journeys and designing optimized dashboards that cater to specific needs and preferences. 


Merely attempting to construct a BI environment for emission monitoring, in our view, is not the optimal approach. Instead, we recommend building a solid foundation for the realization of digital twins first. Integrating BI with digital twin data yields a robust and sustainable platform capable of continuously adding value. This approach benefits both operational and simulation processes.  

With our expertise encompassing the combination of regulatory and calculation requirements related to emission monitoring together with digital twin consultancy, enterprise architecture, data management, and customer experience, we are well-equipped to assist customers in tackling their emission challenges, to provide valuable insights and ensuring compliance with permitting and regulatory requirements.

Contacts Digital Twin Consultancy

  • Hans Tönissen (general) / +31 6 21237700 / hans.tonissen@rhdhv.com 
  • Erik Snip (BIM) / +31 6 10496995 / erik.snip@rhdhv.com 
  • Martin te Lintelo (Industry) / +31 6 11818036 / martin.te.lintelo@rhdhv.com