Carbon Tracking Software Hits Market

Amit Chatterjee doesn't have a crystal ball, but he didn't need one to figure out that "the next set of regulations for which businesses would need compliance software...[would be for] greenhouse gas emissions." So, the founder and CEO of Hara, a software start-up whose name comes from the Sanskrit for "green", began working on a software program to track carbon emissions. In 2007, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers invested $6 million in Hara, obviously believing that Chatterjee was onto something.

Today, Hara will begin selling its software, and with a carbon tax fairly imminent, we're betting they'll see plenty of interest. As carbon becomes a commodity, businesses will need a way to accurately track both their carbon emissions and their carbon savings, and this software promises to do just that. By tracking a company's use of resources such as electricity and water, the program can calculate its emissions and other waste. It can then forecast future emission levels and possibly indicate ways to reduce these emissions, such as by replacing lights with higher efficiency models. Best of all, the software creates "an environmental record" (in Mr. Chatterjee's words) that can be used in an audit and to administer the carbon tax.

A dozen or so organizations, including Coca-Cola and the city of Palo Alto, CA, have been using the software as part of a pilot project. Coca-Cola was able to track the effects of its specific energy-saving projects, such as switching from crude oil to natural gas in its South African operations and updating its lighting systems in the United States. The city of Palo Alto was able to cut $2.2 million in energy- and waste-related expenses during its test-run of the software.

According to Chatterjee, the software's biggest competitor is Microsoft Excel, since most companies use spreadsheets for tracking. However, Chatterjee is confident that businesses will find his Web-based software much easier to use and follow. Speaking of all his competitors in general, Chatterjee said, "the moment you put them into a Hara business case scenario, most of them will fall by the wayside."

Whether or not they agree with the carbon tax, most people can agree that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a good thing. With this new software, businesses will have the tools they need to be more environmentally conscious and responsible in their daily operations. And we don't need a crystal ball to know that that'll make for a brighter future.


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