Some companies are already doing this carbon tallying voluntarily, either on their own or via membership in non-profits like the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Pharma giants like Novartis and Pfizer ,mining and materials firms like Alcoa and BHP Billiton , and utilities like FPL Groupuse the CDP’s data-gathering process to check their carbon emissions.
But the dawn of a new asset class of compliance carbon emissions in the US will mean a lot of accounting and tracking, and already many firms have jumped into the fray with enterprise carbon accounting software (ECA) packages.
Firms both large and small have been building software to help corporate management understand its carbon liabilities, and to track emissions reductions and other sustainability goals, like waste management and water usage.
Cambridge, MA-based research firm GTM Research published a report last month -- “Enterprise Carbon Accounting: An Analysis of Organizational-Level GHG Reporting and a Review of Emerging GHG Software Products” -- looking at ECA trends and usage, and found 51 new entrants in the ECA marketplace. Leading the marketplace are big players like Johnson Controls and SAP , while new entrants include software giants like Computer Associates and Microsoft .
According to GTM, while less than 300 companies have deployed ECA software to date, the market continues to grow as managers find an Excel spreadsheet only goes so far. More than 3,000 organizations worldwide currently calculate their corporate carbon footprint using spreadsheets and other ad hoc methods, GTM reports, adding that they expect the market for this software to quadruple in the next two years, driven by businesses that have not traditionally invested in environmental software.
Like many markets expected to grow quickly to maturity, in the end big players will dominate and niche players will survive and thrive, with the middle tier getting run over. So many ECA software makers are pointing out their differentiation now, to avoid the Microsoft or SAP steamroller while racking up clients.
Some focus on broader corporate sustainability goals that go beyond just tracking emissions.
“Once you really dig, you’ll see a very, very large difference (between ECA packages) because the market is so convoluted,” says Karen Alonardo, founder of San Francisco’s CSRware.
Her firm’s package focuses on energy, solid waste, water management and “green” IT, and they’ve garnered clients like Bloomberg and VMware . Reducing carbon emissions becomes a byproduct of using their system, she says, instead of the primary goal. “I personally don’t think carbon is separate.”