Planet Metrics Sizes Up Carbon Impact

Chances are you don't remember <a href=" http://www.ecosynergyinc.com/ ">EcoSynergy</a>. It was an environmental firm that began making some noise 18 months ago at green gatherings. But Silicon Valley powerhouse Draper Fisher Jurvetson and angel investors are betting $2.3 million that you'll remember the company under its new name, Planet Metrics, after it makes its debut today.

Kevin Ferguson, Contributor

November 11, 2008

2 Min Read

Chances are you don't remember EcoSynergy. It was an environmental firm that began making some noise 18 months ago at green gatherings. But Silicon Valley powerhouse Draper Fisher Jurvetson and angel investors are betting $2.3 million that you'll remember the company under its new name, Planet Metrics, after it makes its debut today.Planet Metrics is the latest entrant to a nascent and hugely important software industry sector called carbon information management (CIM). Others include Boston-based eQuilibrium Solutions, which operates as part of a Boston University business incubator, and Clear Carbon Consulting, whose clients include Wal-Mart, and which entered into partnership with eQuilibrium in March.

The idea behind CIM software is to enable organizations to measure the greenhouse gasses they emit -- or cause to be emitted -- in bringing a product or service to market. It gets very complicated very quickly when you consider an entire product life cycle. There's the energy spent on obtaining and transporting raw materials, the energy used to manufacture goods, the energy used to transport workers, and end-of-life product disposal. From start to finish, tens of thousands of variables may be considered. "Our strength is in being able to organize all that data so that it becomes useful for decision making," says Andy Leventhal, CEO and co-founder of Planet Metrics. "If you don't understand the carbon impact of everything you make and move around, you can't make useful changes."

At the heart of Planet Metrics's hosted CIM software, which it refers to as Rapid Carbon Modeling solutions, are two databases. One is from Carnegie Mellon University, the other from the U.S. Department of Energy. Both already are used widely by academic and government researchers and by corporations. In fact, the Carnegie Mellon tool, Environmental Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO/LCA), has been used more than 1 million times.

Carnegie Mellon acknowledges the tool is not flawless -- it considers too many variables for that to be remotely possible. But it is remarkable in what it considers to make its calculations: data on emissions, waste generation, and energy use in approximately 500 economic sectors, identified by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. Supply chains are identified by tracking the flow of dollars between the 500 economic sectors. Then, certain assumptions are made as to average emissions, waste generation, and energy use accompany those industry sectors.

The second database Planet Metrics uses is the DOE Industrial Assessment Database. The DOE funds Industrial Assessment Centers that periodically perform waste and energy audits at industrial sites. The database contains information from 7,000 assessments and includes electricity use, fuel oil use, hazardous waste generation, nonhazardous waste generation, air emissions, and water use.

TOMORROW: A closer look at Planet Metrics's first client, CEA's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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