We put our bots to the test and built a unique and simple app that measures carbon emissions based off a company’s financial data.
At Codebots we want to create a positive impact on our industry and our planet so we set the goal of becoming carbon neutral as a company in 2020.
We want to do the right thing but it turns out measuring business carbon emissions is hard.
We love to experiment, combining science and heart to solve big problems so we asked the question, how can we use Codebots to measure our carbon footprint?
I put my product owner hat on, assembled a team and followed the Codebots Way of Working to scope out a solution. Our hypothesis was that if we had a baseline emissions metric, we would then be empowered to improve our performance over time.
Early on, we identified the need for domain expertise and partnered with Chris Dey from Arete Sustainability. Chris has been working on the science of sustainability since before the term ‘carbon footprint’ was even a thing! We recreated his process using an algorithm based on a data table that uses a mix of categorised financial expenditure and hard data inputs.
We learned that if you can access financial business data, you can calculate how much carbon a business is responsible for.
This lead us to create a unique solution that converts company expenditure into an emissions estimate.
The app calculated that our company carbon emissions for the last financial year totaled 229.8 tonnes. With +/- 15-20% uncertainty, we had a maximum emissions score of 287 tonnes.
The expenditure categories allowed us to see where our biggest emissions were being created and identify opportunities for improvement.
We built the Climate Action app using the Codebots Platform. If you’re interested in learning how we did it, check out our Climate Action App blog and video series.
C#Bot: A full-stack bot, paired with a React clientside.
Bot written code: = 94.65%
In the words of our CEO, “extensions are the cool stuff the bots can create”. These reusable extensions save a lot of wasted development effort, similar to how recycling saves a lot of single use waste. Below is an explanation of the extensions we used in the Climate Action app.
|App Features and Extensions||How it was implemented.|
|CRUD||This was the extension used to capture and organise usage data, and makes up a large majority of the app’s administration backend.|
|Dashboards||To create graphs and display results based on the carbon emission calculations by category.|
|Developer API||The Developer API extension was used to retrieve the information and statistics that are utilised by the charts and dashboards.|
Through the app we learned that electricity represents a whopping 20% of our business carbon emissions. At the same time as we were building our app, our customer Johannah Maher, CEO of Impactr, launched a campaign targeting individuals, businesses and schools to flick the switch to green power. They made it so easy, that it was a no-brainer for us to switch to green power.
While we can reduce our impact on the planet by doing things like using renewable energy and flying less often, even with our best efforts we can’t reduce our carbon footprint to zero.
What is carbon offsetting?
Carbon offsetting is a way of paying for greenhouse gas reductions, like tree plantings, wind farms and hydroelectricity to balance our emissions. If we purchase enough offsets our net emissions will be zero. This is known as carbon neutrality.
After building the app, and understanding our business carbon emmissions, we were able to offset them. The Codebots team voted on the most values-aligned carbon offset project via Greening Australia and 80% chose the Great Barrier Reef Aid project.
The added bonus, is that because we chose the Reef Aid project, currently the federal and state government are matching it dollar for dollar so our contribution will be doubled.
Technology is a powerful tool to measure impact but it’s humans, not bots, that drive the change that is needed.
We are excited to announce the formation of Team Earthbot, our sustainability club whose mission is to ensure that sustainability is embedded in our company culture, one initiative (or plastic fork) at a time.
This quarter we are focusing on Wildlife Conservation and have a range of fun and educational initiatives, from meat-free Monday’s to David Attenborough documentary screenings.
With bots that code and humans that care, anything is possible.
Now we want to issue a challenge to our community. We invite you to try out our Climate Action app, to measure your emissions and to take steps to reduce them.
Full instructions for how to use the app can be found here.
If you need to source financial data from a bookkeeper or account you can share this google sheet with them.