Focus on CO2, Social Measurement and Reporting
February 3, 2009 – Graeme Sutherland – Print
Let the world change you and you can change the world.
(Deje el mundo cambiarle y usted puede cambiar el mundo.)
– Che Guevara
In this post, I (Graeme) will talk a bit about my past, and how that rather neatly scaffolds the future. How the world has changed me and how that helps me move on to change the world. This is part storytelling, part announcement.
First, the announcement:
I’m going to start intentionally focussing most of my blog postings here at Nodestone on CO2 and carbon calculators, carbon footprints, carbon pricing and offsets, and most importantly, social measurement and reporting to help reduce our CO2 production.
Note: Libby is still going to be posting on authenticity in blogging, social media, education etc, making it accessible for all — those topics that she’s working on out in the world.
Why blog about this stuff?
Because this is what I’m working on, as a consultant, architect and developer, bringing systems engineering, web tools and social media to bear on CO2 measurement and reporting.
And now the story:
I grew up a son of big oil. My parents met while both working for BP. My Dad, Don Sutherland, was Operations Superintendent for the BP Oil Refinery in Kwinana, Western Australia. He was, as I understand, responsible for the day to day operations of the place. We’d probably call that role COO these days. He had hundreds of people working under him to keep things safe and running smoothly. No easy job. Refining oil is a high-pressure, high-temperature, dangerous process that you have to get right, or Things Go Boom.
So, the family was, as we might say now, in the Energy business.
Fast forward to 1999.
I started using my skills as a systems engineer and software developer to build tools for energy management, in particular lighting automation for very large buildings Buildings like 60 story office blocks and massive stadiums. Lots of lights, massive energy use and energy costs, so managing the lighting to bring the energy usage down is a very good thing, and makes the sort of work I was doing quite valuable. We sold that product to a major control systems maker, and then I worked to refine that product for some years as their business grew. Energy was getting more expensive, and the return on investment kept improving. That product is now installed all over the place in massive public buildings (eg. Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium), saving energy day after day.
Amongst all of that, my partner Libby and I put a lot of effort into bringing the issues of sustainability and particularly sustainable business to the fore via the Sustainable Business Network we formed in 1999. We were a bit early there, the popular consciousness hadn’t really grok’d climate change at that point, but we met and talked with a lot of people who had understood sustainability and gained a lot of insight into what is was all about.
We moved back to the UK in 2006. And after spending a bit of time pricing derivatives in investment banking land (very useful when it comes to carbon pricing), I was back in energy conservation and reporting again, and have spent the last 18 months developing social tools for groups to measure and report together to cement behaviour change. And building more energy management tools. And building carbon and ROI calculators. I’ve been speaking at Barcamp about resilience, building a local solar-powered internet as an exercise in using less energy.
So, it seems like now is the time to take CO2 measurement and reporting to the next level. Let’s make it social. We’re entering a world where the amount we use does matter, we accept that. Fortunately we have the communications tools to make us more aware of what we are using. That supports resource conservation and, ultimately, could help turn the tide on climate change. The big goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. That’s been legislated. Which means businesses and households are going to have to get used to measuring, reporting on, and using less energy.
It all sounds do-able to me. Let’s make it happen.