Let’s take a look at one of the traditional clean tech sectors – sustainability accounting. Now, this is a term that’s used in many different contexts, but traditionally, it refers to the use and flow of materials and energy. This could be locally, within a company, regionally for a specific sector across countries or monitoring a specific material over the globe.
Most large companies these days track their metrics on sustainability – carbon footprint, water usage, waste, conflict minerals and so on… These metrics and the associated analyses are typically presented in reports that are one-time downloads or available in obscure places on the web. So anyone who’s interested in tracking changes over space and time for a single company or a group of companies – congratulations! You just agreed to spend a huge amount of time trying to get the data before doing anything with it.
Enter the company ESG Trends. This company was started a few years ago and has made it easier to find and search all the sustainability information that was reported. The interesting part about the company is that this is an extremely obvious combination of data science and clean technology – and yet, something that wasn’t easily available before. It’s Google for sustainability reporting!
The data science parts of it are – 1) where to get the data from (probably a combination of downloaded reports and information scraped from the web) 2) how to clean the data so that only the relevant metrics and indicators are stored 3) how and where to store the data efficiently and 4) finally, a search algorithm to enable users to access the information they need.
The clean tech aspects are typically the environmental metrics mentioned earlier in this post. Interestingly, the company has also chosen to include metrics on governance and social interactions. These metrics typically fall under the “people” part of sustainability reporting, but are often not as well analyzed as the environmental metrics.