With new guidance and regulations coming for tracking corporate emissions, carbon management and accounting has become one of the high-growth areas in the broader climate tech space. A host of companies have entered the field but Reno-based nZero has recently managed to stand out of the crowd by beginning direct work with the Federal Government to track 24/7 real-time GHG emissions.
We spoke with the company’s co-founder and Chief Policy Officer Josh Griffin about the company’s carbon management platform, its unique emission tracking system and its expansion plans both in the U.S. and Europe.
Can you tell us more about the nZero platform and what makes it different from the usual carbon accounting software out there?
nZero is a real-time carbon accounting and management platform that collects, analyzes, and produces the world’s most accurate emissions data to help customers make high impact decisions and accelerate their journey to net zero. Unlike other carbon accounting software on the market that rely on outdated emission averages to calculate an organization’s footprint, nZero utilizes a proprietary carbon data model.
This model captures and automates all emission points from a business’ operational footprint in real-time at the highest granularity possible, providing 24/7 analysis of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Through the 24/7 tracking technology, nZero is able to identify time-of-use (TOU) emission factors, providing hourly emission factors to ensure data is accurate and audit-ready. Without TOU, there is no visibility into how the cost and emissions impact of electricity varies throughout the day, by the hour. The 24/7 carbon tracking distinction helps us stand out as it allows us to provide our clients and partners with, on average, 30% more accurate data than industry averages.
How does 24/7 carbon tracking work exactly?
24/7 carbon tracking is a critical component of our platform. It helps generate more accurate data that can help clients and partners understand changes hour-by-hour, providing granular metrics to reach climate goals, reduce operational and capital costs and mitigate risk. Alongside automating all data collection from an organization, we work closely with utility and energy companies to access the necessary data.
Additional support is provided by the dedicated customer success team on each account to ensure accuracy that helps to empower true business decision-making capabilities. All of the acquired data is then aggregated into a customer’s unique nZero platform, which breaks down a customer’s impact and highlights emission hotspots. Customers can also easily craft a sustainability roadmap that meets their budget with our Insights & Recommendations Engine.
How will the U.S. government’s focus on this need impact both the public and private sector?
This month, we were one of the first carbon management and accounting companies to join the U.S. General Services Administration‘s (GSA) Green Proving Ground (GPG) program as part of the Federal Government’s quest to decarbonize federal buildings. GSA is actively trialing cutting-edge technologies in an effort to accelerate their efforts to reduce emissions.
Our selection into the program serves as a proof that there is a national concern for tracking in the public sector. We’re already seeing this happen with new policies and legislation, such as Local Law 97 in New York City, which introduces GHG emissions requirements and compliance regulations. Whether it’s a result from new regulations or out of a desire to play a proactive role in reducing environmental impacts, the private sector will look for a verified, trusted platform to track, report and create efficiencies with both emissions and related financial factors.
We anticipate they will look to the federal government for guidance on these matters, as they are actively pursuing solutions to emissions issues, which nZero is proud to be supporting. At the end of the day there is a clear message being sent: If the federal government is able to accurately track their carbon emissions then the private sector can too, and we want to be the platform that makes this transition as seamless and accessible as possible.
What types of companies do you most often work with?
We work with a variety of organizations including NGOs, government agencies and private companies. With deep roots in the state of Nevada, we work closely with the City of Reno and Washoe County to assist in their decarbonization journey and build an effective climate roadmap. In addition to this work, we provide them with Public Emissions Portals so the public can easily access and better understand their emissions.
In addition to state and municipal ventures, our partners include Fifth Wall, the Las Vegas Convention Center, Atlantic Aviation, data center company e2, Pixel Health, the Škoda Tour LuXembourg 2022, Wynn Resorts, Allegiant Stadium/Las Vegas Raiders, and others. We’re continuing to grow with new partners set to be announced in the coming months.
Will the experience from tracking emissions in federal buildings generate applicable know-how for your other projects for private corporations with networks of warehouses, stores and offices?
Every partnership we have grants us access to new information, an opportunity to implement unique strategies and a chance to try different carbon curbing approaches. As we continue to expand, we’re able to bring our key learnings and hone in our expertise. In the case of federal buildings, we’ll be able to immerse ourselves in new cities across the country and expand our data network in a way that can be utilized in other projects through advanced data automation. From weather impacts to temperatures and natural light, we will be able to apply learnings to support buildings across the country depending on their unique location-based needs.
The company recently closed its Series A round, what are the main priorities the new funds will be used for?
We closed a $16 million Series A funding round in April 2023. The funding was led by both Fifth Wall – the largest asset manager focused on improving, future-proofing, and decarbonizing the built world – and a national U.S. energy company. These industry leaders stepping in to support us shows the clear call for action across industries.
We are using the secured funds to rapidly expand our data automation – from ingest to insights – to scale and handle massive sector growth. This is within core industries with the biggest emissions impact, including state, local and federal governments, tech, fintech, real estate, and sustainable fuel – driven by our agriculture team. The ability to scale and expand our data automation is allowing us to meet the demand for better, more accurate tracking and reporting of energy, financial and greenhouse gas emissions data across the public and private sectors.
Are residential buildings (and their developers) a market you are looking at?
Currently, buildings account for a quarter of global energy-related emissions, posing a very real threat to meeting our climate goals. With local legislation such as Local Law 97, and the SEC’s highly anticipated climate legislation on the horizon, residential buildings (and their developers) are already facing upcoming requirements to meet certain carbon caps and reporting.
In order to do so successfully, they will need an accurate tracking service to rely on. As those impacted by legislation begin their carbon tracking journeys, we want to be their partner during every step of the way. This need goes beyond siloed markets as we all come together to better protect our planet.
Given your office in Luxembourg, to what extent is Europe a target market?
Just like the U.S., Europe is aiming to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions and needs a carbon accounting and management partner in order to do so. In 2022, we re-aligned our engineering team and expanded further into Europe, allowing accelerated impact globally and on-the-ground support to help European companies meet climate goals.
We’ve also strengthened relationships with government officials and policy makers, such as our relationships with the European city of Remich.
Outside of municipalities, we partnered with the Škoda Tour LuXembourg to measure carbon emissions across teams, suppliers and vendors for the 2022 race. By becoming one of the first sporting events to begin trying to understand its carbon impact, Tour de Luxembourg is a leading indicator of what could be possible for carbon emissions to decrease at sporting events in the future. We’ll be partnering again in 2023 and are excited to continue our work with them in the coming years.
Do you think real-time tracking will become prevalent at some point in the future?
Traditionally, industry standard data is based on outdated averages, leading to inaccurate tracking and disclosure of carbon footprints. This method reduces the efficacy of net zero targeted capital and operational decisions. It is impossible to manage what you can’t measure. However real-time tracking is possible through the capture of daily usage and grid intensity interplay, providing more accurate and actionable data. Capturing daily usage is underscored through TOU with its 24/7 tracking method and hourly insights.
When combined, we understand when and where emissions are occurring, so building operators can react swiftly and with efficiency. It is imperative to eliminate data discrepancies caused by the use of averages and is indispensable to those on their decarbonization journey. Real-time tracking must become the standard, so we have accurate insights to our carbon emissions in order to create achievable reduction roadmaps to reach our goals.
Is the carbon accounting space becoming a bit too crowded, or do you think there’s plenty of growth to go around?
This summer, we saw the hottest global temperature ever recorded, and these are likely to be the first in a series of new records set over the next 18 months. We are seeing firsthand the impacts of climate change and hearing a resounding call to act now on a global level. As we work to decarbonize our built world, carbon accounting and management is an essential piece of the puzzle.
We’re seeing an increase of services in the space to meet the demand, but each have their own specialization to differentiate their place in the market. We’re excited to support the public sector through our relationships with states and municipalities, as well as corporate private sector players, and ultimately be part of the solution.