Columbia: big data to get faster carbon footprints

Researchers at the engineering department of Columbia University, New York, are developing ways to use big data sets to calculate carbon footprints faster.

The researchers wanted to measure the carbon footprint for 1,137 different PepsiCo products.

The researchers developed a predictive model which generates an estimated “emission factor” for each material, as an alternative to manually mapping the ingredients and packaging materials against commercial life-cycle assessment databases.

It follows a 5 year project involving the The Earth Institute, Columbia University, and PepsiCo, Inc, with an original aim to evaluate and standardise carbon footprinting and labelling in the UK and US. PepsiCo has been pilot-testing the methodology since summer 2011.

“Our novel approach generates standard-compliant product carbon footprints for companies with large portfolios at a fraction of previously required time and expertise,” says Christoph Meinrenken, the study’s lead author and associate research scientist at Columbia Engineering and The Earth Institute.

Any carbon footprint generated can be audited against the World Resources Institute life-cycle assessment (LCA) standard.

Without this system, calculating carbon footprint for a big range of products, as a supermarket might wish to do, is a massive manual task, with enormous amounts of data to be collected and analysed. But if companies use aggregate data instead, they miss out on the detail.

“Mining all the ‘big data’ that’s already available in companies’ data warehouses will enable us to calculate the carbon footprints of thousands of products virtually simultaneously,” said Christoph Meinrenken, the study’s lead author and associate research scientist at Columbia Engineering and The Earth Institute.

This automated information can help companies speed up their assessments of the impact of reduction strategies, such as using less carbon-intensive fertilizers when making orange juice.

The data should also get better over time.

Jet Airways uses IBM to track aircraft emissions

Indian airline Jet Airways is working with IBM to calculate and track its aircraft emissions and optimise fuel usage.

It is part of a 10 year agreement signed between Jet Airways and IBM in 2010, to streamline and consolidate IT operations.

IBM has provided its “Integrated Emission Management System.”

The company uses it to analyse and calculate emissions from individual aircraft, based on flight records and fuel usage data. Sources of data include internal aircraft systems, regional navigation data and flight records.

The system is also used to save money by reducing fuel consumption, and the company says it has saved $6m annually from having the system.

IBM also provides Jet with data centre operations, end user services, central helpdesk, network management services, server storage operation, and security services. It is responsible for application management services for the carrier including ERP, flight operation, revenue management, roster and crew management, cargo management, customer relationship information system, aircraft maintenance and operations system, baggage reconciliation system and sales force automation.

Press release

Carbon Trust launches version 4.0 of “footprint expert”

UK carbon reduction consultancy the Carbon Trust has launched version 4.0 of its “Footprint Expert” software, which can be used by companies to calculate and report their carbon footprint, according to the internationally agreed standard PAS2050:2008.

Users can also compete their footprint assessment against the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol Product standard.

Users can gather their data once and the software can generate a report according to the requirements of both standards, so there is no duplication of workload.

PAS2050 is being developed by the British Standards Institution, whilst the GHG Protocol Product standard is based in the US.

The Sustainability Consortium, comprising 400 leading global retailers, manufacturers and consumer packaged goods companies, has voted to adopt the GHG Product standard.

You can use the software to produce reports with free text areas covering boundary setting, sources of uncertainty and reduction targets.

You can use the software as a basis for certification.

A 1-year licence for access to Footprint Expert costs from £1,500 plus VAT, with a renewal fee in subsequent years from £1,000 plus VAT.

2 day training courses are available.

Urjanet – $4m investment for providing energy data

Urjanet of Atlanta, a company which provides energy data to help large scale energy consumers make decisions, has announced that it has secured $4m in “Series B” venture financing.

The money came from existing investors GRA Venture Fund, LLC and Imlay Investments Inc, and a new investor Grotech Ventures.

The company provides energy data by subscription, including about the clients’ electricity and natural gas billing, demand, consumption, history, tariffs and rate plans, weather data, interval metering and carbon intensity, taking the data from different places around the company.

Customers include large corporations and government agencies.

The Urjanet data is designed to integrate with the customer’s existing software, accounting systems, energy and carbon management infrastructure.

Its platform was developed together with Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Since our launch in 2010, the concept and complexity of measuring, managing and understanding data related to energy and resource use has become important for businesses as a way to manage cost and carbon emissions,” says Sanjoy Malik, CEO of Urjanet.

“Many companies, especially those with multiple locations across the country, are largely blind to their total energy use and costs because of the multitude of sources that provide that information in a huge variety of formats.”

“Urjanet [provides] a single intelligent source of reliable data for enterprise energy and resource management.”

“Urjanet is building a business at the confluence of energy and data. They are solving the pain enterprise customers face in acquiring accurate and timely energy data on which to make informed decisions,” said Steve Fredrick, general partner at Grotech Ventures.

Press release

Heineken – software to gather and communicate sustainability data

Brewer Heineken has announced plans to use the credit360 system to gather and communicate “sustainability performance” data across global operations.

It will replace a time consuming Excel system with a single web based system, credit360 says.

The company conducted a competitive selection process for a software provider, before choosing credit360.

Heineken has a comprehensive emissions reduction strategy called “Brewing a Better Future.”

Heineken has over 250 brands and 140 breweries in 71 countries.

“credit360 was chosen for its adaptability to HEINEKEN’s established reporting requirements and the flexibility to cover a broad range of sustainability metrics,” credit360 says.

“By introducing approval steps and automated quality checks for data entry, Heineken will improve accuracy and reduce the time their sustainability experts spend chasing information and validating accuracy.”

Press release

Navman Wireless launches emissions reporting suite

Australian vehicle tracking software company Navman Wireless has launched a new software suite for reporting vehicle fuel usage and CO2 emissions.

It works together with the company’s GPS Fleet Management system.

It is designed to help companies report on carbon emissions from their vehicles.

It can be used by any business with a fleet of vehicles.

The information can be used to help manage fuel costs and carbon emissions.

You can see detailed fuel consumption and carbon emissions information, using the Online AVL2 software.

Users can select the frequency of reports, select the vehicles they would like included and specify the average cost per unit of fuel for the selected reporting period.

The OnlineAVL2 reporting suite also helps organisations identify patterns to improve driving behaviour as well as fuel usage to eventually help reduce their environmental impact. Curbing driving habits such as idling and speeding can dramatically reduce costs.

Businesses can easily identify which specific vehicles or drivers are unnecessarily burning fuel by idling or speeding and work proactively with those drivers to rectify the situation.

“Any business with a fleet of vehicles is concerned about the introduction of the [Australian] carbon tax,” said Ian Daniel, Vice President Asia Pacific at Navman Wireless.

“Australian businesses are looking for new ways to minimise their fuel costs and eventually the costs associated with the carbon tax.

Press release