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Planet Metrics: Helping Companies Reduce Their Risk from Embedded Carbon and Energy

| Friday September 11th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Planet Metrics is a relatively new start-up with a solution to help corporations model and analyze the life cycle of carbon emissions and energy use throughout their entire supply chain, from cradle to grave. Fast Company covered the start-up  in June and called their Rapid Carbon Modeling “a potentially powerful tool.”

What makes Planet Metrics stand out from the crowd of carbon management tools? For one thing, they secured $2.3 million in Series A funding from angel investors and Draper Fisher Jurvetson about nine months ago. They also are working with several large clients, including Method, an environmentally-friendly cleaning product company, a large Canadian retailer and an automobile manufacturer.

The pricing of the software is not public. There is an upfront fee in addition to an annual subscription fee for continued access to the software. They are targeting larger retail, manufacturing and consumer packaged goods companies with complex supply chains, committed to getting started on addressing Scope 3, indirect emissions.

Identify risks and opportunities

If oil reaches $150 a barrel and carbon costs $30/ton, Planet Metrics’ software can help companies understand the risks associated with the carbon and energy embedded in their supply chain. It is also a great tool for  identifying the greatest opportunities for reducing embodied carbon and energy from a product’s complete supply chain.

On August 27th, Planet Metrics released the next version of their Rapid Carbon Modeling software. The new release dramatically expands the what-if scenario capabilities available to their customers. Users are now able to create and evaluate any substitution scenario imaginable, including change specific amounts and weights of materials within selected parts of a product or across all parts of selected products and change specific materials provided by selected suppliers.

“We are helping companies design smarter, more innovative products that save money, reduce risk and have fewer environmental impacts,” explained Jorgen Vos, Director of Product Management.

Get smarter: Make better decisions

“Build a deeper understanding of your environmental impacts and costs up and down the chain, and you’ll be able to focus cost-cutting and innovation efforts much better,” proclaims Sustainability expert Andrew Winston, in his new book Green Recovery. In the chapter titled, “Get Smart,” he talks about how a large Canadian retailer used product-level information generated by Planet Metrics to identify $127 million of carbon price risk in their products.

Armed with this information, the software also allows companies to model different scenarios, such as changes in raw materials, packaging, suppliers or the distribution system, to determine which changes will have the biggest impact.

Winston concludes, “What managers can do with this environmental data represents a totally new way of running the business. This is the future of strategy.”

Method

MethodThe software has given Method better insight into the carbon intensity of their products and packaging. “This has meant we’ve been best able to understand exactly where the key drivers lie in product carbon footprint and can incorporate this insight into our product design process,” commented Drummond Lawson, an environmental strategist at Method.

“They provide x-ray vision for embedded energy in product supply chains and achieve this in an accessible, economically viable fashion,” continued Lawson.

When I asked about specific changes in product or packaging they expect to make as a result of their work with Planet Metrics, Method points to their tub and tile flushable wipes, where they have a far more accurate handle now on the environmental gains of their planned conversion to a recyclable thin film package.

“Planet Metrics helped us map precisely what carbon emissions are associated with the production of the different types of plastic, the process of making them into the packaging material, and their contributions to the process of fitting the whole product together. It allows us to focus most specifically on where we can reduce the carbon footprint of our product line, which is one of the primary environmental objectives of our company,” said Lawson.

Don’t forget the bigger picture

Back in June TreeHugger reviewed Planet Metrics and had some concerns that sustainable sourcing is more than just a smaller carbon footprint. They commented, “While this software is incredibly useful, and can be utilized with ease by companies, it isn’t necessarily the only thing companies need to make the best sourcing decisions.

Planet Metrics is a big step in the right direction. Perhaps a future version can integrate other key social and environmental issues into the equation.

***

Deborah Fleischer, founder and president of Green Impact, a strategic environmental consulting practice that helps companies identify key environmental issues, strengthen their relationships with stakeholders, develop profitable green initiatives and communicate their successes and challenges.

Since majoring in environmental studies in 1983, Deborah’s career has focused on environmental issues in both the public and private sectors. She is an expert in sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, program development and written communications. You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact.


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