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How Eco Friendly is Your Business…Really?

Alex Stuart President of Standard Carbon

The facts and pain points surrounding current cleantech solutions

Canada is a strong innovator and producer of clean technology solutions and, by 2025, is expected to export $20 billion annually.

In the 2021 budget, the Canadian government is committed to investing $17.6 billion into cleantech.

The value of Canadian cleantech and environmental products reached $67.5 billion in 2020, accounting for 3.3% of the Canadian gross domestic product (GDP). Global cleantech activity is expected to exceed $2.5 trillion in 2022.

Canadian consumers embrace a sustainable lifestyle, with 69% of Canadian consumers expecting companies to solve sustainability issues with their products or services.

Many companies have jumped onto this gravy train and have claimed their company, products, or services are environmentally friendly, which has increased their value and company revenues. Unfortunately, there is a Tik Tok ‘nobody’s gonna know’ mentality some companies have adopted around being environmentally friendly, which caused an increase in greenwashing; deceptive marketing practices used to persuade the public that an organization is eco friendly.

Greenwashing has led to consumer skepticism of all green claims reducing the consumer’s power to drive companies to change towards greener manufacturing processes and business operations.

The Canadian Competition Bureau has guidelines about making environmental claims about your products or services, backed by the Competition Act. However, this hasn’t seemed to stop companies like Volkswagen and Keurig from trying.

So how do you know if the product or service you are purchasing is truly environmentally friendly?

North Forge Founders Program Ascent stage CleanTech startup, Standard Carbon, is helping fight greenwashing by being “the first Canadian company to be accredited by Standards Council of Canada to the ISO 14065:2020 standard.

This accreditation allows Standard Carbon to provide assurance statements on claims made by companies about the carbon footprint of their operations, products or services.

Alex Stuart President of Standard Carbon
Alex Stuart President of Standard Carbon

There is no one else in Canada accredited to this standard,” beamed Alex Stuart, President of Standard Carbon, from the comfort of his floor-to-ceiling windowed office at the SmartPark Innovation Hub.

“We also have been accredited to the  ISO 17029:2019 standard. These two accreditations we received from the Standards Council of Canada will help accountants understand the economic impact of GHG assurance claims. Both of those ISO GHG verifier accreditations overarch carbon footprints, carbon credits, and company statements such as carbon neutrality.

Being the first Canadian company to be given the ISO 14065:2020 accreditation shows that Canadian startups, especially in the prairies, can take the lead in this space,” Alex shared.

“These standards are there to legitimize a company’s environmental impact claims.

We are helping consumers understand which products and companies are honest with their environmental disclosures,” explained Alex.

For example, if someone claims ‘we are a carbon-neutral company, they will need a trustworthy third-party company to back up this claim. After completing their assessment and analyses that show their claims as accurate, Standard Carbon would come into the conversation and provide an assurance statement.

Another example would be to think of a financial audit; if a company claims they made $1 million in revenue last year, they’ll need to have that backed up by a certified accountant.

How does their CleanTech solution work?

“Standard Carbon is developing a platform, supported by blockchain and machine learning, allowing faster, more accurate, and more trustworthy GHG assurance statements. Digitizing what is currently a manual, laborious, opaque process will give the accounting profession better visibility into the science behind GHG assurance statements. Increasing the level of assurance in GHG disclosures is critical as more funds are deployed to GHG reduction projects,” said Alex.

Katherine Rog, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Analyst with Standard Carbon
Katherine Rog, Greenhouse Gas Reporting Analyst with Standard Carbon

The Standard Carbon startup team works closely together on all projects. Katherine Rog is their full-time Greenhouse Gas Reporting Analyst working with Alex on their accreditation. “Working with a startup, I wear a lot of hats depending on what is required. I am involved in the process of getting us accredited. I’m also responsible for conducting our GHG inventories, which establish a company’s carbon footprint.

I’ve been interested in GHG, ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and the greenhouse gas world. So when I was initially being interviewed for the position, it was nice to learn I would be part of a smaller team. More specifically, be part of a team that showed that their goal was to improve the environment with their climate change solution and how much they cared overall.

I came from the corporate world, so it’s refreshing to see that spark. It’s nice that Alex is on the same level as me when caring for the environment and making a difference locally and internationally. I get to brag about just how cool that is,” laughed Katherine. “My nickname used to be ‘David Suzuki’s daughter‘ in high school because I’ve always been an environmental activist.

I have a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Guelph, specializing in environmental engineering. I love to understand how things function, and I am good at math, so I figured out that engineering is the right place for me. 

Being paid for something that is a part of my passion is like the best of both worlds. It’s nice that I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. People have told me that you might not find a job that you love and one that meets your passion, but I found it.

Being able to say, ‘Yeah, I enjoy my job, it’s interesting, and it’s part of my whole self!’ is exciting and fulfilling,” shared Katherine as she smiled from ear to ear.

Carbon reduction projects

Communities are reforesting and doing forest management
Communities are reforesting and doing forest management

“There is a lot of opportunity for carbon reduction growth in the developing world. Projects based out of Africa where communities are reforesting and doing forest management. There is a project to update wood stoves to reduce wood consumption and increase the stove’s energy efficiency. Cutting down fewer trees is better for the local and global environments. These types of projects have a significant impact on local economies.

Our job at Standard Carbon is to assess, calculate and verify that carbon reduction projects like these deliver the environmental impact they claim to have achieved,” Katherine explained.

The broad horizon of opportunity is an exciting space.

“We’ll be finalizing the numbers shortly, but we are planning for a seed raise between $5 and $10 million dollars,” Alex shared. “This seed round will help us take this profitable business model and advance the technology commercialization to gain a good market presence. In addition, it will help us solidify our sales team and move forward with our marketing.

We are the first into this vast blue ocean, but we know the competition is coming, so we are moving as quickly as possible.

The downside to this wide-open space is that we still need to pick a point and start sailing towards it. Nevertheless, we have a wealth of opportunities and will be defining a clear strategy that will have distilled everything we have learned in the last three years of operating a startup.”

How is North Forge helping their business?

“Free donuts,” Alex said as he grinned and laughed.

“All joking aside, the Innovation Hub is a remarkable working space. The open areas with floor-to-ceiling windows allow an abundance of natural light into the office. It gives you room to think. It seems insignificant, but it makes a big difference than if you’re working in some tiny dark little office above a convenience store or something like that.

The subsidized rent is a valuable bonus because we are in the Founders Program. Having access to a world-class office and meeting space has been huge for us. In addition, all the great meeting spaces and cutting-edge technologies help us feel and look like an established business. We are being taken seriously by industries because of this.

And then lastly and most importantly, accessing North Forge’s expert network of mentors and advisors. This diverse network of industry expertise continues to evolve as we need it. We pivot mentors, EIRs (Entrepreneurs-in-Residence) and growth coaches as our business grows,” Alex shared.

_____ 

Next Steps:

Have you identified a gap in your industry?

Do you have an idea to solve an environmental or energy problem but need help with starting the business Join the North Forge Founders Program! 

We would love to hear from you! Tell us about your idea (don’t worry if you don’t have the answers to all the questions yet), and our Programming Team will contact you to set up a meeting to chat about it.

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