Hara aims to reduce carbon footprint

An environmental startup aims to take advantage of coming U.S. climate change legislation by helping corporations and cities cut pollution.

Hara, a 25-employee company that debuted in 2008, provides online software to help companies reduce their carbon footprint—a $2.5 billion market that is expected to grow 10-fold if the proposed energy bill, which will require companies to get permits for emissions, becomes law, said CEO Amit Chatterjee.

At the heart of the legislation is a “cap-and-trade” system that will gradually reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, by requiring them to have permits to spew their emissions.

“Then companies will be forced to act, as opposed to seeing the business benefit of acting,” he said in an interview, “The debate alone of ‘cap and trade’ is a driver for our product.”

Hara, which last week announced it recently raised a $6 million Series A round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, will have to compete with business software companies SAP and Oracle, as well as lesser-known players, such as CarbonNetworks and Enervity, all of which are hoping to grab a slice of a potential boom market.

Cap and trade sets an ever-decreasing limit on carbon emissions and offers permits for companies exceeding it. Those lacking permits must trade with companies that emit less.

Paying for carbon emissions will mark a sea change in the country’s pricing of energy, said AMR Research analyst Stephen Stokes.

“The details need to be worked out, but it is absolutely undoubted that carbon markets will be arriving,” he said.

Hara software first collects information on a company’s use of electricity, water, gas and chemicals and compares it to outputs of greenhouse gases, solid waste and waste water. Then, the online software helps prepare strategy and run “what-if” scenarios. Finally, it tracks the changes.

Analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group says that Hara is less precise than rivals but “vastly faster to implement and can be used … to create a more comprehensive planning and reporting system.” —David Lawsky, Reuters