Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valleys top venture capital firms, is betting that such a cap-and-trade law or carbon tax will open the door for a new kind of software company.
Since 2007, it has been quietly incubating Hara, a start-up that is selling software to help businesses measure and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
This is not greenwash. Its dollars to the bottom line, said John Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, which invested $6 million in Hara.
Mr. Doerr, who has been a strong advocate for legislation that puts a price on carbon, says software like Haras will be vital to making it work.
We can pass all the laws we want, but if we dont track, manage, verify and achieve the goals, were going to be lost, and were only going to be doing that with information technology, he said.
Amit Chatterjee, the founder and chief executive of Hara, says the name comes from the Sanskrit for green. He previously ran a group at SAP, the software giant, that helps businesses navigate accounting regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley.
When Mr. Chatterjee thought about the next set of regulations for which businesses would need compliance software, he came up with greenhouse gas emissions.
A post-carbon economy is arriving in this decade, he said. This creates an environmental record for your company.
Haras Web-based software tracks the resources used by the company, like electricity and water, and emissions like carbon and other waste.
The software then forecasts future emissions and helps a company choose ways to reduce them, like new lights or a different type of refrigerator. It tracks its progress and creates an audit trail.
Most companies are flooded with such proposals but baffled by which to choose, Mr. Chatterjee said. Everyone has a pile and all will do good, but the moment you put them into a Hara business case scenario, most of them fall by the wayside, he said.
Most companies that track their greenhouse gas emissions do so with spreadsheets; Mr. Chatterjee said Haras biggest competitor is Microsoft Excel. But that gets complicated quickly, especially for companies with operations scattered across the world, and would not hold up in an audit when carbon becomes a commodity.
The Coca-Cola Company has been using Haras software as part of a pilot project to track greenhouse gas emissions for its 1,000 facilities worldwide. It helps Coca-Cola keep track of projects that vary by country. In South Africa, for example, Coca-Cola is switching from heavy crude oil to natural gas. In the United States, where plants have not been using heavy oil, the company has been updating its lighting systems.