Start-up puts the fun back into carbon reduction

Did you know that on average, every commuter in the UK emits 3.5 kilos of carbon a day – the equivalent of a new-born baby? Didn’t think so.

Photographer-turned-entrepreneur Jody Kingzett and his start-up CarbonGenie intend to change that, by providing a competition oriented, cloud-based solution for employers, who are under increasing pressure to report, and reduce their carbon footprint.

Governments are increasingly putting pressure on organisations to report their carbon output, with agencies and funding bodies raising the bar in their expectations. In the UK, Kingzett says, England’s Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) has indicated universities will have to start reporting on their carbon efforts, or else might see their funding reduced. HEFCE’s latest target is specifically focused on work travel emission calculation.

CarbonGenie, which enrolled in the Climate-KIC Incubation Programme last summer, is now launching its first trial in the UK, with Imperial College London, University of Hull and the Royal College of Music beta testing the system.

Competitive focus

What sets Kingzett’s cloud application apart from similar initiatives, is its competitive focus. “Individuals, teams and organisations can challenge each other,” Kingzett said, explaining that CarbonGenie allows users to compete in online carbon battles, where the winner has achieved the largest reduction in carbon output. “Entire organisations can even challenge other organisations. Imagine HSBC challenging Deutsche Bank to reduce their carbon footprint – now there’s a clash of the titans I would like to see.”

CarbonGenie offers a web-based platform, which automatically calculates carbon emissions produced by business and commuter travel. Employees are asked to supply their daily travel information, such as distance and means of transport, and the employer gets access to an anonymised database. CarbonGenie’s weekly, monthly and yearly reports allow organisations to keep track of their carbon footprint, meet sustainability requirements and enhance their reputations.

Climate-KIC support

Kingzett’s CarbonGenie is currently enrolled with the Climate-KIC Incubation Programme, which helps clean tech start-ups with funding, personal mentoring and master classes. “The money helped me turn my idea into reality, it really helped transform the business at a crucial point” Kingzett said, “But I can’t overemphasise the significance of the coaching and education I’ve received.” Kingzett points out that CarbonGenie has benefited from Climate-KIC’s advice on a range of topics, including its communication strategy, lead generation and market needs.

“Maybe most importantly, it’s the interpersonal support and network, Climate-KIC has helped the company navigate choppy waters and given us a metaphorical buoyancy aid when needed,” Kingzett stressed, “The coaches and team provide an invaluable sounding board.”

Read the full interview with CarbonGenie’s Jody Kingzett on the Climate-KIC blog.