Interactive Business Energy and Emissions Dashboard for Cities by Climate Smart
create a dashboard that allows cities to understand their business emissions by sector, business size, emissions source, and track progress
At Climate Smart, we have been working with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to help them reduce their GHG footprints since 2007. Since then, we have worked with over 800 businesses and aggregated a unique dataset that sheds light on SME emissions.
In the past few years, we used our aggregated data to help eight cities create a projected baseline of their business community emissions. We call this projection a BEEP - business energy and emissions profile. A sample BEEP dashboard for the City of Victoria can be seen here.
Business emissions are significant in cities (e.g. in Metro Vancouver businesses are responsible for 30% of total emissions). Therefore, engaging businesses is an important part of a city's emission reduction efforts.
With the feedback we received from the cities we worked with, we propose to take this dashboard to the next step by not only setting an emissions baseline, but also allowing cities to track business emission reductions over time.
At this stage we ask for:
- feedback on the existing BEEP dashboard
- help and expertise in developing methodology for projecting emissions changes over time
- additional business emissions data that can help supplement our Climate Smart dataset
What actions do you propose?
WHY CITIES NEED TO UNDERSTAND THEIR BUSINESS EMISSIONS
While many cities have a community-wide GHG inventory, they currently don't have an understanding of how businesses in their community contribute to their total emissions. Businesses are significant contributors to GHG emissions in cities. E.g., in Metro Vancouver, businesses account for over 30% of community emissions.
Cities and local governments are on the front lines of climate change mitigation. Municipal governments are seeking data and decision-making tools to implement climate mitigation solutions (e.g., district energy systems, waste bans, charging infrastructure). BEEPs provide municipalities with commercial-sector emissions and energy data and situate SMEs within the context of existing work undertaken around modeling community and neighborhood-level GHG emissions.
At Climate Smart, we believe that businesses need to be key partners in transitioning to low carbon cities. That is why we are working on creating an interactive dashboard that shows a city's business emissions and helps city planners and economic development teams engage businesses in achieving emission reductions.
Currently, using the data that Climate Smart has aggregated from our work with over 800 small and medium-sized businesses and organizations, we are able to create an estimated baseline of business emissions for a city. We created business energy and emissions profiles (BEEPs) for eight cities to date. See this link for a sample dashboard we created for the City of Victoria, Canada.
The BEEPs are created using per-employee sectoral emission intensities derived from our data. We combine those intensities with community business data (business license list or business statistical data) to create a projected business energy and emissions baseline. Note that the dashboard currently shows projected (not actual) business emissions.
HOW BEEP DASHBOARD HELPS CITIES
The existing BEEP dashboard has the following features:
- interactive data exploration and spatial data views;
- maps showing local business greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data by city block;
- maps showing local business energy data by city block;
- maps can be adjusted to highlight industrial sectors, business activity, and business size.
The BEEP dashboard allows cities to gain intelligence about their business emissions, and plan and estimate impact of programs such as:
- charging infrastructure
- waste hubs
- district energy
- sector-specific initiatives (e.g. distributing low flow spray valves to reduce hot water use in restaurants), and more.
A dashboard can also be created for a specific neighborhood within a city or a business hub (e.g. a port or an airport). This can be helpful if a city is targeting a specific area for their emission reduction efforts. For example, in Vancouver, the city is working to green their light industrial neighborhood called False Creek Flats.
These dashboards help city planners understand their business community's emissions and engage businesses in achieving the city's emission reduction targets.
Below is a testimonial about the BEEP we received from Allison Ashcroft, Climate Action Program Manager at the City of Victoria, Canada:
"The online BEEP dashboard offers up a number of rich opportunities for the City of Victoria to engage with local businesses on sustainable economic development and climate action programs that are most relevant to them. Equally important, this online dashboard provides me with evidence-based trends and captivating visuals to more effectively engage with the City’s senior management and Council in the jostle for limited resources and funding.
I’ve always favored using visual tools, like the online maps and graphs of the BEEP dashboard, to engage colleagues and citizens on climate change. Visual tools capture people’s attention; they are more attractive and accessible than jargony text and data-laden tables making them the most effective way to convey complex data and reveal interdependencies. And the ability to interact with these types of tools leads to deeper levels of understanding by offering a more personalized experience. Visual tools have the ability to transform voluminous, disparate and technical data into valuable information from which to make thoughtful decisions.
Victoria’s new online BEEP dashboard created by Climate Smart, tells a clear and fulsome story whether the user has very little, or a lot of, knowledge about climate and energy issues. This new interactive dashboard allows for self-guided learning and discovery which I believe will lead to more sustained and committed action and behavior change from our local business community. Climate Smart continues to be one of my best partners in developing data-driven storytelling; they understand our local economy, and they help me innovate to engage with stakeholders inside and outside of City Hall. I look forward to continuing to partner with Climate Smart on greening our local economy."
HOW BUSINESS EMISSIONS DATA IS COLLECTED
Climate Smart collects business emissions data through our Climate Smart business certification program that we have been running since 2007.
For nearly a decade, we have been partnering with cities to engage their businesses in measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our partner cities provide support to businesses to become Climate Smart certified at a discounted price.
Distinct from a consultancy, Climate Smart builds capacity within SMEs by training key staff to develop strategies for ongoing reductions in emissions and associated costs from energy, fuel, and waste that create environmental as well as economic benefits.
Climate Smart collaborates with ‘host partners’ (cities, local governments, financial institutions, airports, and ports) to engage SMEs and accelerate emissions reductions, report on business climate action across different industry sectors, and elevate municipal leadership on sustainability.
Climate Smart data also contributes to understanding the amount, types, and sources of capital that are needed by SMEs to support investments in resource efficiency and green infrastructure. Support for this project would provide data and visualization tools to a wider range of decision-makers and enable the positive engagement of key stakeholders (SMEs).
The Climate Smart certification program includes:
- 3 training sessions where businesses learn about measuring their emissions, reduction strategies, as well as carbon offsets and communicating their commitment
- one-on-one support from Climate Smart advisors who lead businesses through the process of measuring and reducing emissions
- a web-based software tool developed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses in accordance with the GHG Protocol
The chart below shows the steps businesses go through in the Climate Smart program:
Businesses gather their actual energy, fuel, waste, and other data and enter it into our web-based software tool to create their GHG emissions inventory.
The underlying BEEP data is derived from the aggregated patterns of the 800+ participant businesses. This includes actual business activity data entered into our software in the form of gigajoules, kilowatt-hours, kilometers traveled, liters of fuel, and weight of landfill waste & chemicals leaked in the case of refrigerants. Climate Smart client advisors review data against the GHG Protocol to ensure they meet transparency, relevancy, accuracy, completeness and consistency expectations. Early on we established careful protections, legal agreements and permissions around enterprise level data (e.g. ownership of and unrestricted capacity for us to analyze and share aggregate numbers, trends and insights).
Climate Smart's GHG software tool was a finalist in the 2010 Globe Foundation's Emerging Tech Award and was rated the #1 software solution for SMEs in an independent study by Carbonzero.
A business that
A) completes a GHG inventory and
B) develops an emission reduction plan
becomes Climate Smart certified.
Many businesses continue participating in the Climate Smart program year after year, continuously optimizing their operations and measuring the reductions and cost savings they are achieving.
To date, over 830 businesses have taken part in the Climate Smart program, and that number is constantly growing. The GHG inventories for these businesses form the basis of the BEEP dashboard projections.
WHY CLIMATE SMART DATA?
We have looked far and wide for other data on SME (small and medium enterprise) emissions, but to date we haven't been able to identify other data sources. Our data set, while not very large (we often refer to it as "small data"), appears to be a unique source of information on SME emissions.
We are continuing to look for ways to expand our own data set and potentially incorporate other data sources as they become available to enhance our BEEP projections. We welcome any suggestions on additional data sources that can be used for the BEEP.
EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS ACHIEVED BY CLIMATE SMART BUSINESSES
Through our program, we have been able to demonstrate that SMEs are a treasure trove of untapped opportunities when it comes to GHG reductions. Small and nimble, they are always looking for ways to innovate and improve their efficiency. On average, Climate Smart businesses measure a reduction of 11% by their 3rd GHG inventory. Case studies from a sample of 60 Climate Smart businesses show an annual aggregate reduction of 14,800+ tCO2e and cost savings of $2.2M.
In 2015, Climate Smart certified businesses and organizations located in the City of Vancouver were awarded the Greenest City Leadership Award for their role in helping the City move forward on its emission reduction goals.
For sample stories about how Climate Smart businesses reduce their emissions and cut costs, see this video:
The chart below shows emission reductions for another Climate Smart business - Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. They started working with Climate Smart in 2009 and have since reduced their emissions by 26%. Read their full story here.
For more success stories from Climate Smart businesses, see our website.
BEEP DASHBOARD NEXT STEPS
To make our existing dashboard more helpful for cities, we would like to develop additional features based on the feedback we have received. Specifically, we would like to add the ability to track business emissions over time and measure progress towards emissions reductions goals.
Who will take these actions?
The BEEP dashboard equips a city with data on their business emissions and allows for developing effective business engagement programs. Enabling cities to track their business community's emissions over time will allow them to track their progress towards reduction goals. It will allow a city to evaluate the effectiveness of their current approaches to business emissions, leading to more effective business engagement programs and policies and accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy.
Where will these actions be taken?
Currently the dashboard is based on Climate Smart business data, which represents North American businesses (primarily in British Columbia, Canada). Climate Smart business data can be adjusted to account for differences in climate between different North American cities. As more business emissions data sources become available, the BEEP concept can be transferred to cities and communities around the world.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
Businesses account for a significant portion of a city's emissions (e.g. in Metro Vancouver their contribution is 30%). Therefore, engaging businesses in climate action is very important for cities working to achieve their emission reduction goals. While it's difficult to estimate the reduction that will result from a city having an understanding of their business emissions, having a baseline and being able to track progress are prerequisites for effective business engagement.
As an example, businesses engaged through the Climate Smart program achieve an average emission reduction of 11% over 3 years.
What are other key benefits?
- increased public awareness of the contribution that businesses make to city's emissions
- educating businesses in a city around their GHG footprint
- having a visual, interactive tool like the BEEP dashboard helps engage city staff in GHG reduction efforts and improve communication among different city departments
The lasting legacy of this project includes
(a) growing SME engagement in key communities throughout North America, bolstering the role of entrepreneurs as innovators and leaders in climate action;
(b) education and awareness among SMEs to increase demand for climate solutions, including green/energy efficient buildings; and
(c) a furthering of the narrative that Climate Smart's approach is contributing to the growing "conditions for change" by providing a launching point for businesses to disrupt current economic trajectories based on fossil fuel consumption and invest in cleaner technologies and renewable energy (e.g. fuel switching, fleet optimization, solar energy).
What are the proposal’s costs?
We are planning to:
- Expand the number of BEEPs in 2016
- Gather expertise in 2016
- Convene partners to co-develop requirements for modules for tracking in 2017
- Create a prototype in the first quarter of 2017
- Launch the new BEEP dashboard mid to late 2017