climate change

AMEE Makes Carbon Footprinting Easier and More Fun



At first glance, AMEE, a venture-backed UK company launched in 2008, looks like any other carbon tracking and management provider. But upon further investigation, it becomes clear that although still in its early stages, the AMEE platform has the potential to be much more. The company’s mission is to make the world’s environmental data more accessible to all. To that end, AMEE currently offers three different products: AMEEdiscover, a search engine that helps sustainability practitioners find energy and emissions data; AMEEconnect, an API that allows companies to automatically embed AMEE data into their systems; and AMEEapps, a Software as a Service (SaaS) application that uses data from the AMEE platform. AMEE is now really backing up their stated mission by offering a free version of their AMEEdiscover service.

In the short time since its launch, AMEE has added the UK Government, CNN, Google, and BP to its client list. But as TechCrunch recently noted, the one challenge that AMEE has yet to take on is that of getting consumers more engaged and interested in greenhouse gas data and footprinting information. That is, until now. With the launch of two new projects out of AMEE Labs, the company has embarked on an effort to make carbon emissions data more palatable to consumers.

The first project, Ask AMEE, is intended to make the task of calculating everyday carbon data faster and easier. For example, when you type in “10kg of strawberries” the application searches the database to find the appropriate sources and factors and spits out the associated carbon emissions. The calculations may not be exactly relevant (in this case, the only location available for the source was the Netherlands) but it provides a close enough approximation. As quoted over at TreeHugger, James Smith, Platform Evangelist for AMEE, says, “The idea is to take the (fairly specialist) information in AMEE and open it up to be more accessible and useful. AMEEdiscover lets people find standards and data, but what they normally want is a simple carbon emission answer. Hence Ask AMEE.” It’s a useful little tool; but without any context or basis for comparison, ordinary folks may struggle to understand the implications of the data.

The second application, the AMEE Location Footprinter (ALF), integrates with the mobile location tracking application, Foursquare, to estimate users’ travel distances and then calculates their travel footprint using that information. All users have to do is sign up and then when they check in at two different locations on their phone, ALF guesses their mode of transportation over that distance and calculates the amount of CO2 emitted. The information is distributed in a weekly email format that can be seen below.

Pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, the calculation methodology ALF uses does have some limitations. Distances are calculated in straight lines instead of my actual route taken, and some people tend to drive even short distances and may bike longer distances so the calculations will be off if the program is guessing the mode of transport incorrectly. That said, ALF’s integration with social media is likely to make it much more fun and appealing to consumers. Hopefully the folks over at AMEE labs will be coming up with more ideas for how to integrate environmental data into our social media-fueled lives.

[Image credits: AMEE Labs website]

*** Kara Scharwath is a corporate social responsibility professional, marketing consultant and Sustainable Management MBA Candidate. She is currently working as a Graduate Associate in Corporate Citizenship at the Walt Disney Company while pursuing her degree at Presidio Graduate School. Follow her on Twitter @karameredith.