Hara: Resource Management for a Post-Carbon Economy

Today, Hara launched Environmental and Energy Management, an enterprise-class software system that helps companies measure and manage their total environmental impact. A Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers funded venture, it has been incubating in a stealth mode for 18 months, and has been serving clients by subscription such as Coca-Cola and the city of Palo Alto, already providing the latter with an expected $2 million in savings and 15% reduction in GHGs over three years.
In an interview before its launch, Hara’s CEO and founder, Amit Chatterjee, spoke about the software’s function and utility, its origin, and its potential impact on the business world.
Chatterjee, who just returned the from addressing House Democrats about energy and resource management, recognized the implicit and necessary importance of sustainability in the business world after working in foreign direct investment. And for Chatterjee, sustainability is much more than just going green.
According to Chatterjee, in the Summer of 2007, the era of globalization ended. That is, the World Is Flat mentality ceased being a competitive advantage in the business world due to the energy, debt, and commodity crises. The end of globalization marked the beginning of the post-carbon economy, where carbon is valued in the marketplace.

Most of us are more than familiar with the first two crises mentioned, but it’s less common to hear about commodities (beyond perhaps remembering the cost of gas last year) contributing to our current economic malaise. But this is exactly why we are dealing with an arena of, what Chatterjee calls, “indigestion” in Fortune 5000 companies.
In response, Hara’s Energy and Environmental Management software (EEM) offers a comprehensive Organizational Metabolism Index (OMI), a play on the idea of body mass index, though for companies and organizations rather than people. It not only measures what goes out and the end result, but also what goes in.
For Chatterjee, talking about a company’s carbon footprint or emissions is only talking about half the story of its impact on the economy and the environment. Hara’s software not only tracks a customer’s carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, and solid and liquid wastes, but also the energy, fossil fuels, water, and other resources that go into its operations.
The Hara system is comprised of the following four modules:

  • Discover – As a first step, the EEM aggregates environmental record information from all relevant data sources in order to provide a comprehensive view of resource consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and environmental impact.
  • Plan – The next step is to define strategies, optimize planning decisions, forecast reductions, identify objectives and metrics, and calculate timing and benefits for each initiative in response to intelligence gained from the discovery process.
  • Act – The third step is to manage the execution of environmental and energy programs, track results per initiative, and create an audit trail for any current or future regulatory requirements. The audit trail is an integral part to the process, as it offers transparency outside of the customer’s operations.
  • Innovate – Based off the audit, the fourth step is to implement methodology and leverage best practices for continuous improvements and business transformation.
  • Beyond the Low-Hanging, Catch the Already-Fallen Fruit
    A fundamental benefit of Hara’s four-step system comes in the planning and acting phases. Chatterjee talks about abatement, and its crucial ability to drive capability–to increase operational efficiencies, cost savings, brand equity, and hedge business risk.
    Hara’s analysis produces a micro-abatement curve, which allows customer’s to catch what Chatterjee calls, “fruit that’s already fallen.” These early and easy changes provide quick wins to justify to stakeholders a longer-term vision, an integral part in executing larger strategies.
    The Post-Carbon Economy: A Sign of the Times
    At a time when the Waxman-Makey Bill has helped make terms like carbon tax and cap-and-trade more part of the common vernacular, Hara’s software offers a tool and a service that most others do not. There are heaps of carbon calculators out there, but there seems to be very few–if any–tools that give such a comprehensive look at demand for natural resources and environmental impacts. When asked about who Hara’s closest competitor might be, Chatterjee did not name major or even green-focused consultancy firms, but Microsoft Excel.
    The idea of comprehensiveness is at the core of Hara’s offering. Chatterjee talks about facilitating a more “holistic business process,” where a company’s relationship to natural resources is integral to their operations. When companies base economic decisions on “holistic landscapes,” they increase their potential for revenue and profit.
    But if being comprehensive means doing more than looking at carbon emissions to include water intake, solid waste output, etc., where as Chatterjee claims the OMI and abatement curves to be equally important strategic modes as brand management and supply chain efficiencies, why is Hara’s service couched in terms of a “post-carbon” economy? That’s because “all things can be converted to carbon,” says Chatterjee. That is, carbon is a barometer. When you define energy or water or waste against carbon, you start defining benchmarks and metrics for operation. And the idea of benchmarks and metrics are quickly becoming recurring themes when talking about incorporating sustainability into business.
    “We think smarter because we have metrics in front of us,” added Chatterjee. Once we can quantify our impact, we can work to reduce it.
    Hara–whose name connotes fresh and green in Sanskrit, and means the center of being in Japanese–is led and advised by an impressive and roster of academics, tech experts, and innovators, including a Nobel Laureate and several former executives from household-name technology and consulting firms.

    Ashwin is an Associate Editor of Triple Pundit. He recently returned to the Bay Area after living in Argentina, where he wholeheartedly missed the Pacific Ocean. He is a freelance editor and media and marketing consultant.After a brief stint working in the wine world, when not staring blankly at a computer screen, you'll find him working on Anand Confections or at 826 Valencia, where he has been a long-time volunteer.

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