Written By Andrew Duffy
Times Colonist

A Victoria company founded in 2005 on the promise of helping other organizations manage greenhouse gas emissions strategies and carbon footprints, is about to expand the number of feet it has on the ground.

Carbonetworks, whose GHG emissions management software gives company executives the tools to understand their firm's carbon footprint and how to deal with it in a financially responsible and profitable way, recently closed a $5- million round of financing that will mean an immediate expansion of the payroll.

"We are on a major hiring campaign," said president and CEO Michael Meehan, noting at present they have fewer than 20 employees. "We expect to hire more than 20 people over the next six months and another 40-50 next year."

The lion's share of those are expected to be in Victoria with a focus on sales and expanding the company's support network.

Meehan said staying headquartered in Victoria was important for him as it constantly reminds him why he got into the business in the first place.

"When you leave Victoria you get caught up in the whole business thing and it's easy to lose sight of what you're doing. But when you come back to Victoria there's such an eco-responsibility here and you remember why you're doing this in the first place — it's not to make billions but to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said, noting he did both his undergraduate environmental studies degree and MBA in Victoria, not to mention coming up with the idea for Carbonetworks during his undergrad time at UVic.

And now it appears time for the company to grow in Victoria as well.

Carbonetworks software is helping more than 180 organizations in 23 countries create and manage their greenhouse gas emissions strategies. The companies using it cover the spectrum of industries from oil and gas to the financial sector.

According to Meehan, the software helps the company get its carbon footprint together and then reaches out to the market "and monetizes that footprint, to understand if that footprint is an asset or a liability on the balance sheet."

At that point Carbonetworks provides strategic management applications that will help determine what initiatives will help that company reach an established goal — be that reducing its footprint by 20 per cent, becoming carbon neutral or whatever the CEO has dreamed up.

"The other side of the platform and why it's called Carbonetworks is we actually reach out to the market and pull in all kinds of reduction options," Meehan added. "The software comes up with a portfolio of how they will reduce their emissions in a financially responsible way," he said.

And it allows the executives to run a variety of scenarios to see which one is most cost-effective.

In other words, companies who may have decided that carbon trading or buying offsets is the answer to their problems may not even have realized there are a host of more economical initiatives they can implement that might get them halfway to their goal before they have to look at things like offsets.

"The idea is to invest in your reductions first then look at offsets and carbon trading; streamline your operations first and then offset what you can't reduce," he said.

Meehan said by "monetizing the carbon footprint" Carbonetworks has bridged the gap between environmental responsibility and the balance sheet.

"Now that there is a financial price tag attached to carbon, either real or theoretical, depending on (where) you are in the world, the companies will start looking at this as a financial decision," he said.

Carbonetworks' services are sold on a subscription basis, with the price being determined by the emissions volume being managed.

 

aduffy@tc.canwest.com

[Both Michael’s degrees are from UVic: B.A. ‘01 – Social Sciences, Major in Psychology; MBA ‘05.]