Calculating all of the carbon emissions for a company—from the electricity used by suppliers to airplane flights taken by employees to the hundreds of other energy uses that happen on any day of operations—is typically a slow and labor-intensive process. But a new software platform makes it possible for companies to track their emissions automatically instead, in real time.
When it works with a company, the startup gathers as much data as possible and makes it as specific as possible. If a company wants to know the emissions of buying an orange from Florida, for example, instead of using the global averages that would normally be used, “I have all of these different proprietary databases that I can chop and mix and match to give me a more precise number—here’s exactly the figure for that orange based on how far it traveled to you, and how you’re going to dispose of it, and all of these different things,” he says.
The platform uses machine learning to model changes in emissions day by day, so companies can respond more quickly to make other changes. One Emitwise customer used the platform to redesign its packaging, discovering that changing the volume of the package made more of an impact on emissions than switching to a different material. The customer will also offset all of its emissions by the end of the year. “It shows how quickly you can take action,” says Cozzi.
Initially, as it works with companies, Emitwise has to customize its database; with a major car company, for example, that involved modeling a supply chain that includes more than 100,000 suppliers. But over time the database will grow to the point where the software can “basically model the emissions of any business or service anywhere,” he says. “Then you can go to a mom and pop shop, and really cheaply, with no customization or heavy lifting required, give them almost a QuickBooks for carbon.” That, he says, is the ultimate goal: making it possible for any business to quickly address its contributions to climate change without the long and costly process of working with consultants.