Michael Overcash, Ph.D., founder and executive director of the nonprofit Environmental Genome Initiative, is a chemical engineer and an environmental specialist who has spent his career researching the environmental impact of industry. He’s a strong advocate for a healthier environmental future – and an expert on the challenges we face in getting there. Dr. Overcash is available to share his research, industrial sector experience, and provide expert insights on:
- The chemicals and materials used to produce our products, and services and potential impacts on the environment, public health, and safety
- Pollutants, greenhouse gases and their effects on our earth system of air, water, and land
- The health of our rivers and oceans, impacted by manufacturing facilities
- Waste minimization, pollution prevention, and manufacturing and product design for sustainability and circularity improvements
- Enhanced life cycle assessment data, the backbone of corporate climate sustainability claims, and the shortcomings of the data
Environmental Genome Initiative Overview
The Environmental Genome Initiative is a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working with investors, foundations, corporations, public policymakers, and the philanthropic community to build a powerful collaboration resource to address some of the most pressing problems – and opportunities – of our day.
The EG open-source database maps the content, design, manufacturing processes, and energy use of the industrial chemicals-in-commerce used to make all materials and products worldwide. The goal is to allow users to measure, manage, and mitigate their impact on the environment and on human health and safety. It enables the detailed estimate of greenhouse gas emissions and provides the means for credible public disclosures of the direct and indirect emissions of manufactured products that regulators, investors, corporate procurement professionals, and customers worldwide are moving toward.
The high level of detail in the EG database supports numerous and diverse opportunities. These include pubic health and safety advancements, manufacturing and product design sustainability improvements, better corporate and consumer purchasing decisions, protection of intellectual property and large global supply chain challenges that affect our national security.
Our work also supports the next generation of life cycle assessment, the backbone of corporate sustainability claims. Currently all stakeholders are reliant on a life cycle industry with datasets still in development. Too often firms rely on environmental impact studies built on secondary information based on industry averages that are inappropriate climate risk and emissions measurement. The results are imprecise and highly variable (+/- 400 to 1,000%).
The Environmental Genome’s datasets provide the most transparent, actionable, accurate (+/- 10 to 20%) and defensible estimates available for life cycle assessment – used worldwide to study the environmental and economic impacts of product and services throughout the product life cycle from raw materials acquisition and processing, manufacturing and packaging, distribution, use, and disposal.
Our database provides primary data on content, design, manufacturing processes, energy use, and chemical emissions (including fugitive emissions) at the product level, for many corporate programs. Our data files are substantially transparent and engineering-based with processes described and calculations available.
Our’s is the largest chemicals/materials life cycle inventory database in the world (based on CAS-numbered chemicals), many times larger than its closest competitor. It enables and provides the means for Scope 3 reporting of the indirect emissions of a company’s suppliers and others in the upstream and downstream activities in their supply chains that investors, regulators, and other stakeholders want.
The nonprofit Environmental Genome Initiative was founded after Dr. Michael Overcash, Ph.D., and a number of his colleagues discovered a repeating pyramidal shape as they mapped detailed chemical manufacturing processes. That piqued the interest of the scientific community when it was revealed in a paper published by Dr. Overcash in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Green Chemistry Journal in March 2016.
The discovery was awarded the 2016 Innovation in Smart Chemistry Award, sponsored by Nike, NASA, the U.S. Department of State, the American Chemical Society Green Chemical Institute, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, attracting the interest of major corporations, public policy makers, and the philanthropic community.
Headquarters: Raleigh, North Carolina
Founder: Dr. Michael Overcash
2016 – Dr. Overcash and his colleagues discovered a repeating pyramidal shape for environmental genomic building blocks.
The discovery was awarded the 2016 Innovation in Smart Chemistry Award, sponsored by Nike, NASA, the U.S. Department of State, the American Chemical Society Green Chemical Institute, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
2017 – The nonprofit Environmental Genome Initiative was formed by dr. Overcash and a dozen other scientists specializing in the fields of chemical engineering, industrial engineering, environmental health, and public health and safety.
2019 – Guidestar Transparency Award for nonprofits
Media Contact: Dory Trinka firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-330-5607.
Dr. Overcash is available to provide expert insights on: the chemicals used to produce the food, products, and services we use and their impacts on the environment, public health and safety; greenhouse gas emissions and their effects on the air, water, and land; carbon, water, and other environmental footprints; global warming and climate change; the health of our oceans and rivers; waste minimization, pollution prevention, and manufacturing and product design sustainability improvements; the environmental influence of the modernization of the U.S electrical grid by 2050; life cycle assessment research, the backbone of corporate climate sustainability claims; the relationship between pollutants and chronic disease; national and international environmental policies, regulations, and regulatory proposals; diagnostic tools that support national and corporate security; circularity of corporate goals; and vanishing elements needed for manufacturing products.
The nonprofit Environmental Genome Initiative was founded in 2017. Dr. Overcash, a chemical engineer and an environmental specialist who has researched industrial pollution prevention since 1980, was joined by scientists specializing in chemical engineering, industrial engineering, environmental health, and human health and safety. The group members had focused much of their work on green energy, process and sustainable systems engineering, chemical circularity as well as life cycle impact and risk modeling.
To date, more than 2,000 detailed chemical manufacturing processes with a wide variety of molecular structures, elemental compositions, and commercial uses have been mapped. The goal is to produce the map of the environmental footprints of all products by first establishing the carbon footprint of the industrial chemicals used, a critical base of any product. It will provide the primary data and the means for Scope 3 reporting of the indirect emissions of a company’s suppliers and others in the upstream and downstream activities in their supply chains.
The nonprofit Environmental Genome Initiative promises to create a new ability to visualize and study the genomic structure of all chemical building blocks — from their origins in the earth, to their manufacture, to how they enter our environment – which will bring insights into problems and solutions that will lead to safer, healthier lives for all. The environmental genome thus enables the global interest in the carbon and the environmental footprints of all society’s products.
With data overlays, our database will allow research into a myriad of public health and safety issues such as the relationship between environmental pollutants and chronic disease. Epidemiologists attribute 70-90% of chronic illnesses to the environment, of which pollutants are a major component. We believe it will yield other large, unforeseen economic and health benefits, just as mapping the human genome enabled.
Today this powerful collaborative resource is the largest transparent chemicals/materials life cycle inventory database in the world – and growing. We aim to work together with people and organizations who share our goals and invite investors, foundations, product manufacturers and industry associations, and government agencies to work with us.
Applications for the Environmental Genome Database
Compliance, Communications and Competitiveness
- Compliance with local, national, and international environmental regulations
- Carbon footprint
- Environmental Product Declarations
- Building certification
- Health, safety, and sustainability claims
- Product comparisons
- Product cost reductions
- Product labeling
- Increase competitiveness through chemical improvements and innovation
- Safety and risk assessments
- Sustainable procurement
- Water footprint
Public Health Information Related to all the Products we Consume
- Estimate the health impacts of exposures to emissions to air, water, and land
- Develop new life science applications
- Research and improvements in the social determinants of health (SDOH) with manufacturing plant data on emissions and disability-adjusted life years (DALY)
- Quantify the environmental pollutant origins affecting nearly one billion people globally with chronic diseases
- Research on ways in which maternal fetal health is impacted by exposure to environmental pollutants
- Quantify environmental disparity
- Estimate fugitive emissions
National Competitiveness and Security
- Reduce dependence on foreign supply chains
- Identify undisclosed production of chemical weapons
- Unauthorized production of cyber technology, e.g., stealth coatings
- Measure chemical discharges after natural or manmade accidents and events
- Corporate patent violations
Manufacturing and Product Design Improvement
- Energy and mass efficiency
- Analysis to facilitate technological innovations for energy and material conservation, improved processes, and sustainable product designs
- Better manufacturing supply chains
- Lower costs due to pollution prevention, reduced water and carbon impacts, and greater efficiencies
- Quantify the environmental impacts of new chemicals, materials, colors, coatings, etc. in product designs
- Tools that meet the fast-paced demands of the product design process
- Capture customer benefits in environmental improvements