onsdag 17. februar 2010

Safeway looks to shrink its footprint, signs up with carbon manager Hara

Grocery chain Safeway has become the latest major retailer to take greening its supply chain seriously. Following the lead of companies like Wal-Mart, it is making an effort to cut energy use and carbon emissions — and has decided to go with environmental management software maker Hara to help it make substantial, eco-friendly changes to its business.
Hara’s software will be deployed across 1,800 Safeway locations, and will be used to capture data about consumption of energy and water, as well as the production of greenhouse gas emissions and waste. The company says it distinguishes itself from competitors like Carbonetworks, Enviance, the Carbon Trust, and stealthy C3, by providing a holistic picture of a company’s “environmental metabolism.”
Not only will it track data, it will also model it in an easily-digestible fashion, and provide specific recommendations for what Safeway and its other clients can do to shrink their footprints while simultaneously reaping the economic benefits of conservation. Individual stores will also be able to easily share experiences and best practices using the platform.
Notably backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Hara seems to be the trendy player in the carbon accounting and management game. Its software’s interface is slick and consumer-friendly, and it’s recently landed buzzed-about deals with Coca-Cola, News Corp. and software producer Intuit. The new link with Safeway gives it a first solid foothold in the retail, and even food service verticals. It’s also raised $20 million to date from backers including Jafco Ventures and Nth power.
As good as this all seems, Hara has come under fire from its competition and analysts, who have labeled it primarily a financial tool, divorced from the science and nuts and bolts of energy, water and emissions management. Enviance, in past conversations with VentureBeat, has set itself apart from the startup by emphasizing how many of its personnel hail from energy management backgrounds, allowing them to be more grounded in greener business practices than people with experience purely in software and information technology.
But Hara, based in Redwood City, Calif., isn’t backing down. It’s hard to lose with a marketing message emphasizing how much money clients stand to save. And with several big-brand customers and investors in its pocket, it could quickly grow to rival even the oldest carbon and resource tracking companies in the field.

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