The Sustainability Efforts Mapping Platform by cBalance Solutions
An online sustainability performance mapping platform to enable evidence-based policy making based on patterns derived from performance data
The overall goal of this project is to develop an online platform to document and map sustainability efforts of businesses and communities around the world with open source geographical information systems (GIS). GIS allows users to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. It will allow better and more comprehensive visibility of sustainability efforts undertaken by various businesses and communities and will enable evidence based policy making amongst city officials, allow benchmarking and comparison that could serve as a basis for eco-labelling programs, certifications, and rewards and in turn lead to accelerate adoption and dissemination of sustainability best practices.
The open-access sustainability mapping platform will be defined by the following features;
- Openness – It will allow individuals, research institutions, civil society organizations and industries to submit sustainability performance data related to specific organizational units. Further, all visible data residing on the platform will be made available for download through interactive features that will enable selection of geographical boundaries.
- Extensiveness - The GIS platforms data-points (i.e. points on the map which will indicate institutional or individual sustainability efforts) will contain exhaustive data related to sustainability metrics and supporting documentation.
- Comparability - Comparison of sustainability performance as measured across above mentioned parameters, especially GHG emissions and energy, across peers within geographic boundaries and similar end-use sectors will be enabled through statistical comparison, tabulation, and plots/charts available for live visualization and download.
- Knowledge exchange - A bulletin-board forum and continually evolving library of knowledge building materials (videos, ready reckoners, case studies etc.) for referencing and exchanging sustainability best-practices for all vital economic activities / sectors will be setup and embedded into the platform.
- Connectivity - The platform will deliberately integrate features to enable publication of as much content onto other platforms through APIs and other facilities for embedding GIS maps / widgets onto other portals and publication onto mobile communication platforms.
Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?
1. Development of GIS-based Sustainability Mapping Platform:
cBalance along with other NGO partners like, will be responsible for building the GIS sustainability mapping platform. The platform will involve the creation of a data interface layer for users to create data-points (i.e. points on the map which will indicate institutional or individual sustainability efforts) which will contain exhaustive data related to sustainability metrics and supporting documentation for sustainability efforts known to them or controlled by them. In particular it will include the following qualitative & quantitative information fields:
- description of technological, behavioural and operational processes/policies adopted to enhance sustainability performance
- videos, sustainability reports, images related to sustainability initiatives
- GHG mitigation (tonnes CO2e avoided/year)
- energy conservation (kWh and kJ avoided/year)
- water conservation (kilolitres avoided/recycled/recharged per year)
- waste management/reduction (% and qty. of non-biodegradable waste recycled, tonnes compost generation/year, kJ waste-to-energy recovery/year)
- material management/reduction (% material reduction achieved for paper, plastic, wood, metal etc., % and qty. of recycled/biodegradable materials used)
- socio-economic sustainability: community socio-economic and environmental development project metrics.
Comparison of sustainability performance as measured across above mentioned parameters, especially GHG emissions and energy, across peers within geographic boundaries and similar end-use sectors will be enabled through statistical comparison, tabulation, and plots/charts available for live visualization and download. A bulletin-board forum and continually evolving library of knowledge building materials (videos, ready reckoners, case studies etc.) for referencing and exchanging sustainability best-practices for all vital economic activities / sectors will be setup and embedded into the platform. To further the organic growth and empowerment of more specialized sustainability efforts by other environmental / social groups across the globe, the platform will deliberately integrate features to enable publication of as much content onto other platforms through APIs and other facilities for embedding GIS maps / widgets onto other portals and publication onto mobile communication platforms.
2. Influence Environmental Planning Groups, Government Institutions & Policy makers:
The platform will be used as an evidence-based policy making tool, provided to environmental planning groups, government institutions & policy makers who derive meaningful correlations between programmatic and systemic features of implemented programmes, systems and their respective sustainability impact to run pilot programs and project the impact of potential future interventions in similar geographical and demographic regions and propose appropriate policies in place for the same.
Comparison of sustainability performance as measured across different parameters will be enabled through statistical comparison, tabulation, and plots/charts available for live visualization and download. The emphasis on comparability also seeks to aid policy advocacy through enabling visualization of trends and quantification of opportunities for GHG mitigation and energy conservation. This data can be easily interpreted and will influence government institutions and policy makers to implement measures and influence policies changes to encourage sustainability efforts specific to their respective geographical and demographic regions.
3. Data Collection:
cBalance will itself deploy a team that will extract and harvest data from
- company annual reports
- company sustainability reports and CDP disclosures
- newsletters, survey reports and database of national and international social & technology development programmes on the theme of energy, water, waste, sustainability
- plus explore the use of the Indian Right to Information Act (RTI) to collect energy, water and waste data from large businesses / manufacturing locations/commercial enterprises in India
Platform will be open to individuals, organizations and communities to provide their inputs which will be updated by cBalance team after verification.
The plan will require the following data to be collected in addition to the cBalance carbon footprint calculator fields:
- Annual income
- No. of dependents
- Total family members at home
- No. and type of houses owned
- No. and type of cars owned
- Access to bio-fuels
- Reduction in energy consumption and waste and wastewater generation through sustainability practices
- No. of employees
- No. of branches/offices
- Annual turnover
- Sector of industry
- No. of vehicles and proportion of buses/cars
- Annual Carbon Inventory
- Green practices – Energy efficiency, Renewable Energy, Waste Management, Water Saving, Low-carbon embodied and biodegradable material use
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives
- Waste management system
- Water sourcing/management/treatment
- Pollution levels and efforts to control
- Monitors on industrial practices
- Efficiency of government-run green initiatives
4.Data Presentation and visualization:
1. There would be a basic map of the carbon footprint of the districts of the country, using a diverging colour scheme (green for above healthy carbon footprint and red for below healthy carbon footprint, white for no data). This is a simple starting point to get an overview of where we stand. The carbon footprint would be normalized per person per year.
2. Another type of static map could be on the scale of awareness of environmental issues and green initiatives and would plot NGOs, centers of green initiatives, institutions of environmental research, etc and show their extent of influence. This would not only serve as an aid to finding an organization or community to work with in one’s own area, but would also highlight areas that have no reach at all and where green initiatives are desperately needed.
1. One set of maps would relate carbon footprint to continuous variables like age, income, no. of vehicles, distance between home and workplace, proportion of homemade meals, proportion of green appliances, etc. There would be a slider that the viewer can drag to view the effect of the variable on carbon footprint. Each map would be accompanied with tips and strategies to reduce one’s carbon footprint.
2. A second set of maps would relate carbon footprint to discreet/nominal variables like gender, economic status, ideology, education, occupation, sector of industry, etc. It would use a similar slider to interact with the map, also allowing comparison within a sector.
3. A third set of maps would use buffer analysis and overlay analysis to analyze the carbon footprint within the range of government initiatives, waste collection/treatment facilities, NGOs, industrial complexes, centers of green initiatives, focus groups, tree plantation drives, natural disasters, protected areas. This would highlight the role and reach of NGOs, green initiatives and environmental organizations.
4. A fourth kind of map would be an interactive network analysis map, involving plotting the route/distance/time to travel from home to work and its impact on carbon footprint. It can also be used to highlight roads of high traffic congestion and suggest means of reducing fuel consumption and pollution at traffic jams or avoiding them altogether.
5. Another set of maps could show the effect of climate change on the world by comparing maps of different times and plotting the increasing number of natural disasters across the world.
5. Communications and Network Building:
1. The online platforms success is directly proportional and hinges upon the adoption of this comprehensive platform by an exhaustive set of stakeholder groups mentioned above. Absence of a substantive magnitude of sustainability data from any of the key stakeholder groups on this platform would mar its utility. Hence network and partnership building by cBalance is a key downstream activity to ensure healthy uptake in terms of incoming data supply and downstream use of analytics derived from raw sustainability data for benchmarking, best practice mainstreaming activities by industry and community groups and evidence based policy making by governmental organizations.
2. cBalance will engage with stakeholders through online and offline media avenues to build networks and publicize the platform through stakeholder-specific communication strategies – including engaging directly with industry groups through publications in Industry Magazines, Periodicals and Online Portals serving the specific industry.
Key activities that will be conducted are;
IT and GIS programming, database update and management, API development, advertisement and marketing, customized counselling and information distribution.
Thus, this tool would be a platform for the government institutions & policy makers to collate data and interpret it effectively. The maps make the data understandable for key stakeholder groups as well as the general public. There is a clear incentive for areas marked in red to work on their sustainability efforts because of social pressure and eco-competitiveness.
Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab
The behavioural change that would take place in the community and policy changes that would be implemented by government institutions & policy makers are the main objectives of the project and are more important than emissions reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels.
What are the plan’s key benefits?
- Policy changes to encourage sustainability efforts in respective geographical and demographic regions·
- Collecting reliable and dynamic energy data on the ground.
- Viewing the carbon footprint of one’s district in relation to the others would foster eco-competition to reduce the carbon footprint of oneself as well as the community.
- The scale of awareness map would direct the viewer to find organizations that they volunteer for as well as the communities that have no access to information about green initiatives and alternatives.
- The dynamic maps relating carbon footprint with various variables would serve as a guide to making changes in one's lifestyle and opting for green alternatives to conventional technology and practices
- The maps on climate change would raise the issue of urgency of neutralizing our carbon footprint at the earliest.
What are the plan’s costs?
Sustainability Tool Development Steps
Research Support & Data Collection -1,20,000 $
Backend Development - 20,000 $
Graphics Designing -10,000 $
Communications and Network Building - 30,000 $
Testing & Publication - 20,000 $
IT Equipments - 7,813 $
Data storage cost (for 2 years) - 3,125 $
Maintenance cost (for 2 years) - 6,250 $
Admin and Finance Officer - 60,000 $
Total Cost - 2,77,188 $
What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?
Sustainability Tool Development Steps:
Research Support & Data Collection - 6 months
Backend Development - 2 months
Graphics Design - 2 months
Testing & Publication - 2 months
Communication & Network Building for data collection - 3 months
Total Duration (no. of months) - 15
The project last over a period of 15 months, following which, maps & results will be shared with appropriate policy makers.