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The journey from hackathon to green team
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The journey from hackathon to green team

August 6, 2020

Kamal Kapadia  1:10  

Sure, yeah, I'm happy to get started. So it gives me a great delight to introduce to our very own Tim falls. As like you now know how this goes. I'll do the formal introduction and then tell a little story. So Tim is strategic advisor to Weaver he entered the world of technology startups in 2009 while in graduate school, earning his MBA, he has worked as a full time employee, freelance consultant, mentor, advisor, independent board member and friend to entrepreneurs building early to growth stage companies. Community defines Tim's profession. He specializes in devising community oriented strategies and assembling and training teams to foster inclusive diverse communities that support its members and the organizations that bring them together.

Kamal Kapadia  2:06  

Today, Tim is exploring new professional avenues and following his heart to focus his energy on climate action. And I, I believe on climate justice as well. In this case, study and discussion, Tim will share a recent experience leading employee efforts to initiate conversations and spark progress toward a better organizational response to climate change. So I should I wanted to share that I actually invited Tim to give this talk before he decided to sign up as a student at Terra. And it's because I saw a version of this talk posted on the climate action tech Slack channel. And I saw that and I thought, wow, this is amazing.

Kamal Kapadia  2:50  

Like this is exactly the kind of thing that we want every single one of our learners to feel empowered to do that they can actually you know, start something right where they work, and try and shift the conversation and actually, you know, get get moving on some climate action. So I was really excited when I saw that on cat, I thought, well, we definitely need this guy to come and speak to our learners. And then later on, Tim decided to sign on as a student, so double the bonus that we get to have in our cohort as well. I also think it's sort of deeply connected to Tim's very, I would say deep connection to the world of justice. Because it's, it's again, about empowering, empowering people who otherwise may not feel empowered to take action, right, you know, where they are in their lived communities and in their lived workplaces. So I feel like this sort of really connects to the kind of work that Tim's kind of trying to do now as well. So I'm really excited to have him give this talk and I'm going to hand over to you Tim, thank you so much.

Tim Falls  4:01  

Thank you. It was an awesome introduction. And thanks everyone for tuning in. I'm excited to share this today. Since I live way out in the middle of nowhere and have pretty slow internet if things start to get shaky with my video or audio just wave and I'll I'll pay attention and see if we can correct things. But until then, I'll go ahead and start sharing my screen and jump into this. Okay, can everyone see a big green screen? Okay. Put it in presentation mode.

Tim Falls  4:47  

So this is just a little title which come out already went over and touch on the kind of sub headline here. The was an effort that did start as a 24 hour hackathon, and kind of evolved from there into a bigger employee led movement. So as an agenda of what we'll cover today, I'll go through an overview of the process and show you kind of the end product of our efforts. And then I'll just reflect on the requirements that went into it, the challenges we experienced the results and the key takeaways that I think are most important for this audience. So before I do that, let me jump over to this. Alright, everybody see a spreadsheet now? Okay.

Tim Falls  5:49  

So this is I tried to keep everything in one place and the original workspace that we started during the hackathon, which was a simple Google Sheet and I'll share this with everyone it's can be used as a template, if you would like to use it as such, all of the all of the formulas and all the cells are linked to one another within each tab, and then I'll also share, go back over to the Google Slides, which is also linked to this in case you wanted to duplicate these and use them in your own efforts.

Tim Falls  6:32  

So I won't read through all the words on this tab on this worksheet, but it's basically just an overview of what I've just explained, and a little bit of instruction on how to use it. And this is pretty, pretty close to the original version of when we came out of the hackathon. So it's a little rough around the edges, but I will note that I made an effort to make it more accessible to web readers by checking on all the colors that I used and the contrast in those colors to make it as as viewable to people with vision problems as possible. So if any of that, well, please give me feedback so I can adjust it for others.

Tim Falls  7:24  

It's basically a navigation, you know, from left to right through the tabs. So I'll just kind of walk through that. Here's a kind of getting started page for anyone who's jumping into this process for the first time. How do we even start thinking about the process of understanding our carbon footprint as an organization, there's a lot of things that our organization might undertake. Some of them are well within our view and some of them are way outside of our view. Maybe a lot of our carbon footprint happens somewhere else. A supply chain that we don't have control over or much visibility into. So it can be, can be challenging just to figure out like, where do we start? Our approach to that was to really be specific and explicit with defining a purpose and defining the intended immediate outcomes. Why are we doing this? And what do we expect to come out of this effort?

Tim Falls  8:30  

For us, it was just to really get that baseline understanding of a ballpark number as to what are what are we having, what kind of impact are we having on the environment through our through our bottom line operations. And an extension of that intention and intended outcome was to share that information, information that we gathered about ourselves and the self awareness we built with our customers. So that our customers could also make more informed decisions on whether or not they wanted to be customers of ours and how they wanted to make their purchase decisions, what products and services they would they would purchase from us. With that in mind, we just jumped into a brainstorming session. I think this is kind of the next step in the process, which is okay, if that's what we want to achieve here.

Tim Falls  9:26  

And maybe your version of this is we're just going to work at a team level or departmental level, and just really figure out what is our marketing departments or our people department or engineering department, what is what is our carbon footprint? And then you just jump into like, what are the obvious things that we think might be leading to carbon emissions or any kind of environmental impact? And so this is the result of our, our brainstorming. We basically came up With a number of categories of emissions categories, and then that brings us to once we identify those categories, now let's let's look into those things, do some research and analysis and try to start understanding all these different activities.

Tim Falls  10:17  

So that kind of brings us into each of the next 1234 or five tabs, each of which is a category. I'll jump real quickly over to the tools and resources tab because while this is a case study in and of itself, I wanted to illuminate a couple other case studies from other companies. One here is from Basecamp. The company behind the new hate email app and what they did what they've kind of measured you can see they included banking as one of the categories, which I thought was interesting, cloud hosting, they do a lot of printing of books. So that was something unique to their business that they wanted to cover. And also give another example from this gaming company called Space Ape. And they also in this in this article link to their actual Google spreadsheets that they used. So another good example and model to follow if you want to.

Tim Falls  11:28  

So back to our model, where we're at the research and analysis phase, and because this company, which I kind of didn't mention in the Getting Started tab, but this company is about 550 employees was a cloud hosting company. So we had data centers that we owned and operated around the world on several different continents, employees and customers all over the world. And so when we were in that brainstorming stage, thinking about where the bulk of our our emissions gonna come from, we immediately started with data centers because that was an obvious choice. For companies who aren't data heavy, don't own their own data centers. You know, this might not be the number one category, but a lot of a lot of companies do operate their stuff in the cloud. And this, this research and analysis because it is a cloud hosting centered around a cloud hosting company, and there's a lot of that, and we didn't we analyzed a lot of our competitors as well, Google, Google, cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services.

Tim Falls  12:46  

So no matter what business you're running, if you have a technology aspect to it, you're likely going to be hosting some stuff in the cloud and that would be one area, you'd want to look into That is if you're hosting with someone else, obviously one of those areas that might be out of your control from a from a decision making standpoint, but you might be able to vote with your dollar as you choose vendors. So just jumping into all these different this is really where the math it's, it's the road. And I won't go through all the details of this. But again, if you want to click around in here and see what the formulas are in the math behind everything. I tried to highlight all kind of the, the big numbers that would appear in the end summary in the green boxes. And, you know, there's there's lots of different kind of areas of contributing math if you will, and lots of the resources and research links that we did that we use to come up with all this stuff on our own that might be interesting to you if you jump into this process yourself, different definitions and whatnot. And I did take out any specific information to our data center providers and all that just to keep things kosher in that regard.

Tim Falls  14:24  

Going on to the next category of emissions. We have office offices and operations. And again, this was our company with 550 employees had about 200 folks in one office, and maybe another 50 to 100 folks and other offices. So let's say 250 to 300 employees distributed around the world working from home. So we had to take all of that into consideration in terms of who's in the office. When and, and, you know, what are those offices doing? And what kind of as renters? What kind of decision making and influence do we have in terms of power consumption and efficiencies and whatnot. And also shipping right? So we we did a lot of shipping, because we had distributed employees, shipping out different perks to help people who work from home feel involved and included in the things that were happening in the offices. And we also shipped a lot of servers to the data centers that we that we ran.

Tim Falls  15:43  

So this was, you know, there's some holes in this analysis all the way throughout, but we tried to get the biggest chunks of activity that we could and all those holes are also eliminated and kind of what's next Section of the project. So moving on to another category marketing activities. Specially in the tech world, we do a lot of swag and stuff we all get. That's what that acronym stands for. T shirts. So even though this was a software company, we had to think about being a T shirt production company and think about who that who who are we working with? What materials are we using for those t shirts, and the different implications of having 100% cotton shirt versus a cotton mix shirt, for example. And we were sending out hundreds of thousands of shirts per year.

Tim Falls  16:51  

So that was really important for us to to understand that impact. And it allowed us to talk to our vendor more and more have expressed to them that this was important to us that their business practices in terms of climate were important to us. Moving on from here we have traveling commuting, which is obviously a really big thing in many industries where folks either traveled between coasts or between countries for to work with one another or to go to professional conferences. This is especially true in a distributed company where almost all the employees are visiting, if you don't work at a con at a at a headquarters office, then you're probably flying to visit that office once or twice a year. And this also brought into the fold. You know, how are people getting to work and are they going to work? And if they were, if they're working at home, then how do we how do we account for their activity, they're an hour in the company's activity to facilitate that work from home.


Tim Falls  18:09  

So, everything from air travel to ground travel to commuting to offices and between offices is is taken into account here. And and this was one of the places where we could get some really specific information because we could talk to the people team, get data from our employee in a centralized travel agency hub, and all that to get pretty high confidence in these types of numbers. And finally, that brings us to a summary. So those are the high level five categories and all of that math that I just showed you and trickles down into a couple pie charts which which showed us what we originally believed which was data centers were our number one emission source. And then removing the data centers from the graph on the left here and chart on the left to the one on the right where you see air travel becomes the big one, along with commuting, once we remove that data center variable.


Tim Falls  19:20  

So this allowed us to really get as a company, the first fundamental glimpse at what our impact is, what our carbon footprint is. What are what the footprints of each of these big buckets of activities is, and allowed us to start thinking about. Okay, now we have a little bit of self awareness. If we want to do something, we have a starting point. So that brings us to the reflections and results Before I jump over to back over to the slides, I want to just point out to you, in case you do jump into the spreadsheet and use use it in any degree to any degree. Pretty much everything that's linked throughout all of these tabs is summarized right here are all the different calculators, we used other tools across the web, including open source projects.


Tim Falls  20:28  

For those more technical folks, a lot of research articles and again, some inspiration and other case studies. And the rest of these tabs are a lot of kind of deep math right at the end to get to, you know, that went into some of the determining the efficiency of our software, the code, we were writing the efficiency of our data centers, each server that was deployed in those data centers In their power consumption and power consumption over at peak time versus non peak time, all that stuff.


Tim Falls  21:09  

And also two other things here that I'll point out. One is the future of work, future work. What else can we do to continue this project? and another is kind of one of the results community feedback repository, which from a messaging standpoint and a turning this into greater action perspective, we felt like this was one of the most compelling things that we could continue to do, as we had these conversations internally, which was bring the voices of our community members or customers inside the walls of our offices, quote, unquote, to make sure that we're listening to what the people who pay us are asking and are expecting of us.


Tim Falls  22:00  

So, jumping back over to the reflections from a requirement standpoint, what do you need to get this going? If you were to want to do this at your company, whether you're a founder, or you're an employee? The three basic ingredients to this, in my estimation are people, time and energy. Since we're finishing up energy week here@terra.do, I'll differentiate this energy from what we've been talking about, and say, the energy I'm talking about here is that within our our human bodies, and it amounts to physical energy, to get it done emotional energy, as we all know, and psychological and spiritual because this work is tough and there are challenges to it.

Tim Falls  23:00  

But the people part you know, it's just about having someone who cares, you know, and and that's where I started was I really cared about what was what we were doing. I cared about knowing what our impact was. And once I expressed that care to others, I found that others cared too. And they cared enough to join me in an effort to do something. So ideally, you have a group of people who not only care but represent different perspectives and bring different experiences and different levels of connection throughout the company.

Tim Falls  23:47  

To to this team of people who makes this nexus effort together, but what isn't needed is any climate action work. None of The folks who joined me in this initial effort had any experience doing any of what we did. We just jumped in and, and figured it out. So I think that's really important. On the time side of things, this is an example of employees going above and beyond their job descriptions. So we were fortunate enough to have this built in internal hackathon event, which lasted, you know, a Thursday and a Friday and everybody in the company had support and stepping away from their day job, and spending 24 hours to work on it, whatever they wanted to, and this is what we chose.

Tim Falls  24:48  

So, you know, I know that's a big privilege and not all employees. Not all, not all companies offer that type of privilege. 20% time is something that Google Goal coined many years ago and has been more and more common within the tech industry at least, and also maybe called creative time. And then, you know, if you care enough and you don't have the privilege of having this built in extra time, then it might require some overtime work, which I personally have trouble suggesting, because balance and health is important, but you know, sometimes we just got to do it we got to do. So, those requirements, the challenges that I experienced in this kind of came in three different levels. One was conversation with my manager, because I was doing work outside of my my described job and at one point, my Manager literally came to me and said, Hey, you know, this is great and all but I wanted just to make sure you're doing your job. And so I focused on making sure I did my job very well, first and foremost, and I also expressed to him that climate work is everyone's job. And it's not work that we can ignore. So I was firm in saying, you know, my performance speaks for itself and also, I'm going to do this work because someone has to do it. And that went over okay, because the proof was in the pudding in terms of the rest of my responsibilities being taken care of.

Tim Falls  26:45  

Another conversation is at the executive level, C level, and VP level, which at a company, the size of the one I was working in, there is More separation between the sea level and the rest of the employees and the conversations. Those two groups of employees are having are often different. And so when I tried to have a conversation about this stuff at the sea level, I was met with crickets. And that was challenging and frustrating, but my best reaction to that was keep asking and keep talking about it. And modifying my approach, as I persisted, to try to speak their language. I understood that our CEO who was a former CFO was very focused on free cash flow as a number one business metric. And something he was always aiming for as the CEO. So I shifted my language to not so much focus on The great things we're going to do for the planet, but focusing on how, by doing great things for the planet, it would do great things for our free cash flow. And finally, this concept of authority versus agency. authority to me means you have permission or you have explicit guidance to do a thing. agency is just the ability to do something. And I think that in these in this instance, in this context, even if you don't have explicit permission, if you're doing a good thing, and you do it well, then all you need is the agency and the ability to go do it.


Tim Falls  28:50  

And finally, some results. We achieved that that thing that we set out to achieve which was Increase organizational awareness and have a baseline carbon footprint understanding. We created an employee community, which didn't exist prior, which emerged very quickly and was very much appreciated by the participants and served as an emotional support network. The meeting that we had directly following a couple weeks after the hackathon was literally about 20 people sitting in a circle sharing their experiences with climate change and the relation to it and a lot of tears were shed, and it felt very meaningful and very connective, and I think really went a long way in terms of establishing relationships and helping people feel less alone at the company out of that broader community A subset of those folks were became the go to people for anything climate related.


Tim Falls  30:07  

So we went from having conversations, questions coming in about climate, about sustainability, and no one to feel them to having a go to group of people who could have those conversations with customers and with coworkers, which was a big improvement. And as I showed, late in my presentation of the spreadsheet there, we had a centralized repository that was growing of customer and community feedback to help perfect communication process with, with the C levels executives. We establish new relationships and avenues for collaboration with teams within the company that we'd never had worked with before. Including the trust in governments governance team and creating our first climate related FAQ. And just really starting high level conversations about our future capital investments with legal and finance and operations and engineering, which are folks that I just didn't work with that much in my day job, which is nice to, to find those bridges. And with this greater self awareness and a starting point and a foothold of where we are, we were, we were much more able to have substantive conversations with our community members when the common topic came up through social media and forums and support tickets and whatnot. He turned Sorry to interrupt you. I don't know if you're seeing the chat. But I think your slide advancing is maybe behind you're on the requirements slide. Still, at least that's what we're seeing. Okay. Thanks.

Laney Seigner  32:00 And now we're seeing Oh, yeah.

Tim Falls  32:02  Are you on results now?

Laney Seigner  32:03  Yeah. Now. Thank you.

Tim Falls  32:07  Something got mixed up there because I switched. I've skipped over challenges. I'll go back to them, but on there was my audio. Okay that whole time? Yeah. Okay. So here's the results, I'll go back into presentation mode, so they're big. I was down to the kind of internal blog post and just the following activity, which was a lot more membership in the Slack channel. And that follow up conversation that I that I mentioned, where our initial group of seven people grew to 20 people and really allowed us to connect and on this common care actually did do the challenges. So finally, and we can open up for discussion after this if we have any questions or inputs, perspectives, Others. These are my top takeaways that climate action climate work doesn't have to wait until your next job. I'm no longer with this company. And my time there ended a couple months after I kind of finished this or undertook this project.

Tim Falls  33:24  

But when I did take it on, I was in a place of feeling that I needed to do something in the realm of climate action, and feeling a little stuck because I wasn't in a climate action company. I was in a cloud hosting company. But once I reframed from, Okay, I gotta get out of this company and go do something different to what different What can I do differently within this role that opened up a lot more hope And it popped up a door for action. So I know a lot of us in this cohort or are in the some of us are in that bucket of like I'm in a job.

Tim Falls  34:12  

And I see this vision of myself doing more action, climate action work. And I just want to, like, present the possibility to us all that switching jobs, the only answer, creating change at your current company within your current role is an option. And you don't have to wait, you know, necessarily leave a stable or comfortable job during a pandemic, you can start doing this work immediately. The second thing is that climate work catches on. As soon as I brought this conversation up. As soon as I pitched the idea to the hackathon, the folks who were planning to participate in the hackathon I had an overwhelming response and I found that This was a conversation that just hadn't seeped beyond the surface yet, that people just weren't talking about it, even though they wanted to.

Tim Falls  35:13  

So if it's not a conversation at your workplace today, and you'd like it to be, I would encourage you to just start a Slack channel or however, conversations get started at your company and just just create a space for it, you know, because I would put money on it that some coworkers are thinking about it too, even if you haven't talked about it before. And finally, start small, right, like, as I just said, even if it's just an online virtual space for people to share their feelings, that's, that's something and it's more than nothing.

Tim Falls  35:58  

So don't try to put too much pressure on yourself to make a huge difference or make a huge impact or change everything in a short amount of time. Just start with what seems most accessible and within reach. So those are all my takeaways, the rest of this deck, which again, I'll make sure everybody has if they'd want it, it's just kind of a template of sorts to share with the rest of the organization, what the results of our project were and what our plans were to continue getting involved. I will stop sharing my screen now and can jump back into any of that stuff if it's helpful, but yeah, sorry, I wasn't looking at the chat there. Just catching up with it now.

Laney Seigner  37:04  

Oh, no problem. Thank you so much, Tim, that was a great presentation. Very inspiring to hear about your work with the carbon footprint audit. And for those of you I was having some difficulties keeping up with the slides, I think there might have been a lag with you advancing and the screen sharing, not reflecting that. But Tim did post the presentation slides, and the spreadsheet at the very top of the zoom chat, which might have been before some of you joined, but it's available there. And Tim, Thanks for clarifying. Like, while you were speaking, sort of how to use those two resources, because I think they're, they're great resources that many of us might look back on in the future. So those are both available there. Tim, just a question. I may have missed this. Did you and your team design the spreadsheet or did that come from climate action climate tech network climate Action tech and you are you worked to implement it at your company.

Tim Falls  38:04  

We designed it, we created it or signed it. That's so awesome. So I posted in Slack, we're using it now at TechStars. Like we're releasing it to design our own ESG policy right now. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. That makes me happy. Yeah. So I'm happy to share our experience as we go through it. Yeah, we'd love to hear it. And yeah, I'm guessing that you all made a copy of it. And I have made some modifications to the original version that I think I shared with the climate action tech folks. Mostly aesthetic, like I said, for accessibility reasons. But yeah, it's awesome to know that that that you picked it up and it's being used in the wild.

Laney Seigner  38:54  

Yeah, that is that is awesome that it's already circulating out there. And I feel like there's a lot of exciting use cases for this kind of a tool. So I'm going to jump into the questions from our Slack channel. The first one was actually from me. So I'll maybe put that up there because I'm curious. Do you Is it your sense that companies would potentially either other companies, not the one that you work for, like pay either pay their employees or hire consultants to do this kind of analysis for them in the future, especially as a part of carbon neutral pledges or I mean, it seems like such a valuable tool to just initiate that process of planning for carbon neutrality? Or is it your sense that this is really something that's going to happen on a volunteer basis of motivated employees within the companies?

Tim Falls  39:43  

Both is my guess. I like in this type of work right now especially, not only because it's literal connections and interwoven pneus but also because of the similarity of nature. I liken this to DNI work, diversity and inclusion work or diversity, equality, equity and inclusion. Which is something that, you know, again, I speak highly, mostly from the tech industry perspective, because that's where I've been working the last 10 years.  But diversity and inclusion has, especially right now with the Black Lives Matter being at full, full speed has been a conversation for years now. But for the most part, companies hire one person, maybe to be like the head of diversity inclusion, and then they have, they asked people to volunteer which is controversial amongst employees. I see that I think that a lot of companies will do the same with climate. But I have seen some companies building climate teams and taking this more seriously. Stripe is one example of a tech company that I've seen has like climate as a category within their their jobs page and folks who have been, you know, list climate at Stripe as they're in their Twitter bios.

Tim Falls  41:24 

So yeah, that's my hunch I, I will say that, you know, the company that Kamal mentioned that I'm advising right now Weavr I meet almost weekly with their CEO and he always expresses interest in what I'm learning here at Terra. And in our last meeting, he thought he expressed that he thought that a lot of founders and leaders of companies these days that are emerging that are thinking more progressively will want to hire people to give them advice and at least consult in this area to start building out more or expertise internally.

Laney Seigner 42:07  

Yeah, that'll that'll interesting to see how that evolves. And I like the parallel that you do with the diversity, equity inclusion work and the climate work that a lot of companies and institutions are trying to take on. But right now a lot of the times is controversially not always compensated. Let me get to the questions of the slack because there's quite a few coming in. And, Ryan, did you have a question or was a comment, or you did have both? Maybe go for whichever one you want.

Ryan Barrett  42:37  

Yeah, I have a bunch. I'll stick with one for now. But first of all, thank you, Tim. So did you all look at any of the standards around this like GHG Protocol or CDP? I was curious what you thought of them and if they got any traction?

Tim Falls  42:51  

Because of the time crunch of of doing this in a 24 hour period, initially, we like the depth of our research wasn't very deep. So so I guess the short answer is no. That would be kind of if it's not listed in the work to future work to do, then I think that would be a good addition there. I know. staying engaged with the climate action tech community. We're out I last presented this. There's a greenhouse gas emissions channel within their slack community and something a resource that one of their organizers shared within that channel. I put in the resources here because it got to that greenhouse gas emissions protocol GHG protocols thing and it offered a model for what they call C. It was a new, a new term to me. Scope three Scope three evaluator is the name of the scope three emissions being those that are kind of out of somewhere else in the supply chain and in more indirect than the scope two, which is also indirect. So yeah, that comes from the greenhouse gas protocol. 

Laney Seigner  44:34  

Well, and Ryan, we can come back to you if you have more questions building up. But let's see if we can get to Liam. And then Ani. Liam you want to go ahead and ask your question,

Liam Hardy  44:46  

Hey, Tim, thanks a lot for that. And it was just kind of a, if you can estimate the time timescale that was required, I guess you did it in a really crunched, crunch down way. So if you if you were talking about a small or medium enterprise, I don't know, one office with 50 to 100,  have you got any kind of sense of how long it would take to do that and how many people might need to work on? Is it like one person working for a week? Or two people working for a month? or what is it? What kind of scale is it? 

Tim Falls  45:18  

Yeah. for that type of enterprise 50 to 100 people in one office. I think that three or four people could work on this for a couple hours a day for one to two weeks, and then accomplish what we accomplished in a much less stressful way.

Laney Seigner  45:46  

That's cool to hear. I don't know if Liam has any follow up to that. But that's yeah, that is helpful. It makes a lot of sense. And I think just a side note, I've worked with a few farms that want to do this to like a carbon footprint analysis of their heavy machinery operations and carbon sequestration potential compost application, and so they're kind of trying to do a both kinds of audit similar to what you just described with sources of emissions and potential sinks so that they can tie in optimized for reducing emissions and increasing sinks with a similar type of spreadsheet as a first path analysis. So those of you interested in food and ag I think that's another cool application of a tool like this. Okay, let's see Ani and then Ben also had a great question on the Slack. So Ani, go ahead.

Anirudh Gupta  46:36  

Tim that was amazing, thank you so much, I think super useful application, all for real learning. And I really do see the scaling up across many organizations. I have two questions. One of them is, have you thought about ways that we can get the final carbon footprint number off an organization on to the quarterly statement, you know what kind of right above the profit line, and if he can do that, it makes it so punchy because investors can see it consumers can see it. It becomes, you know, tied to the bonus of executives in their organization. So are there any ways that we can actually get that number on to those quarterly statement? And the second question is, have you thought of an extension of this for true cost labeling on products?

Tim Falls  47:30  

So, those are really great ideas and questions. For the quarterly statement, you know, this company is a private company. And so the quarterly statements would basically be seen by the board. In a public company, obviously, there's going to be while they're even in a private company, you could make those statements more public, you could publish certain elements of them or all of them if transparency was truly of value.

Tim Falls  48:11  

But, you know, I think the pessimist in me says that it's gonna just something like that will just require the CEO of the company being very adamant about transparency and very committed to accountability. And sadly, in my experience, accountability is a word that's spoken a lot. And it's not acted as much as it is spoken, which is very ironic given the word and its meaning itself. So, yeah, it's I think it's, it's gonna take cultural change within a private company to reveal that information. It's also going to take prior to that willingness to expose that information, it's going to take a lot more work than just this for any company to reach a level of confidence to make a public statement about where they are at, you know, in fine trying to find other examples beyond the two that I listed, and Basecamp and space eight app Space Ape games, there weren't I couldn't find many other even with Stripe, like Stripe has this like several posts about what they're doing. But they don't post about where they are. They don't post like what is our carbon footprint. So I think the the two hurdles are people, finding the self awareness and finding the confidence and knowing where they are with this and to Having the fortitude to come out and publicly and say that on the second one. How did you phrase what was the term you used for that?

Anirudh Gupta  50:23  

You know, your calculator looks pretty much ready to be scaled onto a consumer products. It's the same application. So do you see this relevant for true cost labeling? You know, the way Unilever has now said, okay, all our products are going to have true cost labeling of carbon emissions. How could we be living to live in a society where every product has a true cost label of government? And you're pretty much the basis for that?

Tim Falls  50:50  

Yeah. Yeah, that was one of the primary intentions that I mentioned. One of our primary applications, desired applications of this was to as a hosting company, be able to put with this. In our customer dashboard, when a new customer was spinning up a new server, they could they, they already have the ability to pick which data center, that server is deployed. We wanted to reveal to them the greenness of each of those data centers. So they could prioritize they could pick to because some of our grade or some of our data centers were powered by renewable energy 100%, some were 50%, some are zero percent. So we want to like give them the optionality there and give them the information to make that decision. We ran up against problems with that, particularly at our case, and that if we created that option, we knew that our green data centers would become overloaded and we would run out of capacity very quickly, and therefore not be able to offer it to everybody who wanted it. So there's there were those concerns. iterations and also considerations around customer experience in terms of latency, for example, where informing a customer where I think the challenge becomes giving all information to the customer, what are the implications of choosing this green data center in terms of your application performance, which then leads to your end customer experience? And are you willing to pay more and get less and your customers to have a less experience? So? Yeah, I think that that is the one of the kind of pinnacles of this type of work is equipping consumers with that type of information. And I would love to see this tool or any other tool, like it lead to more of that. I think it kind of comes back to that same those same cultural challenges that I mentioned in the first part of the answer as well as the technical and logistical challenges.

Laney Seigner  53:14  

Yeah. And related to what you just shared as as an answer to audience question, Tim, one thing that I really appreciated about your talk was how you also pulled out the non quantitative benefits that came out of your experience in terms of employee like this the experience of doing it was valuable for people at your company to come together and have conversations they weren't already having. And that to me when, whenever, like, I've done sort of similar but less extensive exercises, and there's been trouble around getting to a number or arriving at a way to communicate that number in a meaningful way. I think also, like what you said, and what should be continued to share in this kind of process is just the value of doing it as an exercise because I think the quantification isn't yeah, the only important outcome and thinking about things holistically, I think, can lead to improvements in practices, you know, in addition to the tool of having that number, but yeah, but not being a slave to the numbers. So thank you for sharing that perspective as well.

Tim Falls  54:12 

Yeah, yeah. And just to add on to that, you know, employee relationships improved. Because like, from my perspective, going into this, I thought putting that green score next to the data center selector was a no brainer. But then I got to learn, I asked the people who would be affected by that kind of change. And I got insight that I never knew about our product and how things work and how the customer experiences and understood the challenges of doing something that I thought was a no brainer, and that those challenges are real, and they need to be thought through and that thinking through that really strengthened empathy across the organization. Nice. Yeah.

Laney Seigner  54:56  

I know, sometimes when I say, Oh, we should just do things this way. Because it's so much better and right, like, then really talking to those people who were like, No, well, we don't do it that way. Because of this understanding the real challenges to overcome is a crucial part of affecting those kinds of changes, and not just calling for them. So yeah, that's that's a huge takeaway. I want to get to Ben and then Toral. Ben, you want to go ahead and ask your question.

Benjamin Bolton  55:17  

Thanks, Tim. I think yes, really impressive framework super kind of detailed and replicable. So thank you for sharing it. And I was just interested to know if you identified any opportunities or kind of quick wins for footprint reductions in the cost of doing unit.

Tim Falls  55:38  

Yeah. One of our classmates did this presentation on the swag earlier this earlier in the cohort, and that was, you know, he went way deeper than we did. But that was the number one thing that I saw as, as an opportunity to immediately just make a different decision. You know, it's as simple as As changing your order with the T shirt vendor, and changing your promise to the community and changing your offer to the community, you know, we've gotten stuck in this assumption that everybody wants to another t shirt. And like this process allowed us to like break out of that and say like maybe people don't want another t shirt, maybe we can offer them something completely different that doesn't require packaging, doesn't require shipping and gives them the same warm and fuzzy feelings inside. So that was number one.

Tim Falls  56:50  

Shipping in general, non non swag related was another big one that I identified. Because, again, getting into this kind of double edged sword of like, we want to do all this nice things for our employees and Give them perks, but like, do they really want that water bottle with the logo on it like, No, they don't, they have a glass in their kitchen. So making different purchase decisions like recognizing the beauty of being a software company and not having increased physical things and allowing us to kind of lean into that beauty. And then the final thing was air travel. And bringing that into, again switching our default mode from you just fly to get to the meeting, too. Don't fly, like at all costs don't fly. You know, we have zoom. We have these beautiful teleconferencing systems in our offices, use them right and we can all agree that being in person is superior to being remote. But is it necessary? That's the question isn't necessary.

Tim Falls  58:16  And, you know, I think that's especially important for employees to hold up as a mirror to their executives. Because, I mean, I've been there myself as I worked my way up, and I was like, Oh, I'm a director. Now I can just, you know, they said, I can fly anywhere. And I just like, Don't even think about it just fly because that's the expectation. And my ego has me feeling very important. Like I need to be there in person. And I think it's really important that we to ourselves and to each other, like, hold that mirror up and say, like, is your physical presence really that important? Or can you make a little extra effort to be there to be present in a digital way. Right, can you be on that zoom call and not be on your computer, typing in some other thing, right like that will overcome some of that challenge of not being there in person. And really having executives be honest with each other and say like, okay, I'm going to be the CEO. I'm going to be based in this state, and the company wants me to be in this state, and therefore, I just get to fly all the time, like, challenging that assumption. It's really important.

Benjamin Bolton  59:43  Thanks, Tim. 

Tim Falls 59:47 Yeah, thank you for the question.

Laney Seigner  59:48  Yeah, great question and great response. Toral, did you want to ask your question, or was that mostly a question meant to just generate more links in conversation, you know, moving forward, or.. 

Toral Varia  1:00:03  Yeah, yeah. No, no, no question. Really. I was just very curious whether what Tim just explained afford is being replicated in the global South? Turns out there are a few things. So I'm just interested in understanding this space a little.

Laney Seigner  1:00:18  Yeah. Yeah, that's a great question. And we should continue to share resources around that. For sure, as I think, yeah, I don't know all the carbon footprint calculator tools that you shared, I'll have to look into those in the tool, Tim. But we'll also be sharing a few more as part of the carbon offsets class. And so some of them are based in various countries, and I think few of you are based in India. So it'll be interesting to look more into those as well. and discuss as a cohort. Yeah, cool. Well, does anyone have any additional questions that I have either missed or have just come to you now or going? Good? 

Benjamin Bolton  1:01:01

I have one final question. So this is kind of just riffing off the earlier question about your product labeling and getting this kind of information. In the kind of quarterly reports, is there an opportunity to kind of make this kind of reporting more kind of demanded by the investment community and something that they is expected to be reported on for, you know, new potential investment opportunities for existing portfolio businesses? And like, Tim, I'm not sure what the ownership structure was for your, for the organization in question, but it seems to me like that would be, you know, a real kind of turning point if there was more demand within the financial community for this reporting to be standard.


Tim Falls  1:01:51

Yeah, I agree with that. Definitely. welcome any other any other perspectives on it? My reaction to it is, you know, the exposure through Tara to Matt Eggers said Correct. which then led me to discovering actually someone shared it in our slack as well that Chris Sacca launched lower carbon capital. You know, I think that perhaps some of the most influential, some of the most influence on investors can come from investors, and Chris Sacca, for example, you know, he's like, a celebrity within the VC world. You know, he's been on all the startup podcasts and he was like, you know, his story of becoming the number one investor in Twitter by scrapping together loans and credit card checks and stuff like this, like I think he has people like him have a lot of opportunity to influence other investors. More so than entrepreneurs. influencing investors I my experience with within the venture capital community has been less than awesome personally. So again, my inner cynic comes out when I think about how likely it is for investors to start, be the ones to drive this change. But then again, like they exist, right, we've we've met them. And I know a lot of venture capitalists who on a personal level are wonderful human beings. So yeah, that's where I would go that's that's where I would blame because be just because I don't think that entrepreneurs that have that much sway on the investors seemed very much power dynamic in the opposite direction. Anybody else have thoughts on that?


Anirudh Gupta  1:04:13

Yeah, it's the same as ESG funding right now, in a sense, you're talking about Chris Sacca at a VC level. But a lot of funding is now completely being earmarked as ESG funding on a private equity level. And, and essentially, they are making it a criteria to say, show us your carbon footprint, show us a water footprint, right. And in fact, through COVID, there's a lot of data coming out to say that companies that are ESG compliant have not been hit so hard by COVID as non ESG compliant companies, and as like indexes showing how e. g, fundings like, investments have done a lot better. So the point is, I think there's levels of environmental awareness, even in climate finance, right, and data like yours, like your calculator I think should be a prerequisite for that ESG funding.

Tim Falls  1:05:15 And thanks for bringing that up. It highlights again part of my, my perspective is somewhat narrow from a financing standpoint, and that it has mostly come through exposure to and participation in the venture capital process, as opposed to other financing processes.

Kamal Kapadia  1:05:38  I was just gonna say that we have two classes coming up on finance and climate change as well. So we'll get into a little bit more around this as well.

Laney Seigner  1:05:50

Yeah, it's a rich topic, for sure. Well, thank you. Thank you for those great food for thought questions and ideas and resources, Tim, and thanks, everyone for your awesome questions. And we'll wrap up our guest talk for today and it'll be recorded and shared with you all soon via slack and in your cohort Drive folder. So thanks everyone this is yeah, it's really a lot to think about and takeaway from all this.

Tim Falls  1:06:23

Thank you all. This is really fun thank you so much.

Kamal Kapadia  1:06:26  

This was awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. All right. Have a great rest of your evening, morning afternoon. 

Laney Seigner  1:06:36

Yeah. Take care all yeah. Bye

About the Certificate
12 weeks long. Between 6-10 hours of time commitment every week
Each class is just 20-25 learners with extensive skills, background, passion
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Climate Change: Learning for Action
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12 Weeks
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February 2021
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