Carbon and Water Impact 2017

At Loudspring we care deeply about not only growing successful businesses that will go on to become great companies, but growing companies that maximize their positive environmental impacts and save as much natural resources as possible.

In fact, this is our primary purpose.

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WHO ARE WE?

Loudspring is a group of companies we own, that are active in five global industries - food, fashion, energy, manufacturing and real estate. Their potential to achieve a significant impact in these industries is what drew us to them in the first place.

Last year, we started to estimate the real impact that our portfolio had achieved in terms of carbon emissions and water savings. We have continued that work in 2017 while also improving upon our methodologies along the way. We calculated this for six of our main holdings. We base our calculations on the real effect of the past year, meaning that we look at the impact of actually sold goods and services. No projections, only actual savings. We also take into account the negative impact of the operations of each firm, to calculate the net effect.

The following companies are included, their line of business and environmental impact in short below:

Eagle Filters – Filters that clean intake air in, so that gas power plants produce more energy put per input of natural gas, as blades get less fouled and run more efficiently;

Swap.com – Second hand online shop that brings industrial scale to second hand clothing and reduces the need to produce new clothes;

ResQ Club – An app that lets restaurants upload and customers buy meals that would otherwise go to waste;

Sofi Filtration – Recirculating waste water reducing the need for fresh water;

Enersize – Optiumisation software that reduces energy in the use of compressed air in industry; and

Nuuka – Software to optimise and reduce energy use in buildings

HOW HAVE WE DONE THIS?

The carbon emissions avoided from products or services in use during the year is calculated. This is the ‘emission effect’ of purchasing a certain company’s particular product or service. This ‘emission effect’ is compared to a baseline in that particular industry, which is typically the current status quo. We are in other words calculating last year’s emissions based on the emissions generated with our company’s solution in use vs. the emissions that would have been generated if they had not been in use.

Finally, the carbon emitted due to operations of our portfolio companies is added (this includes items such as office heating, electricity, travel, energy use in production of hardware or in factory processes).

Warm thanks this year goes to Matt de la Houssaye of Global Green, who has supported and helped guide us in the assumptions, data sources and information underlying this analysis. Measuring and accounting for impact is not straightforward. This year, we looked at data from around the world regarding the impact of textile, food waste, and similarly large industries. It is not an easy task, and you have been of great help. Also, a huge thanks to David Helsing, at the International Institute of Industrial Environmental Economics who has compiled this data.

In this report, we present the positive impact that six of our portfolio companies had in 2017. These numbers should be taken as an indication, as many assumptions are used in calculating them, however impacts are reported based on a review of life cycle analysis studies, university research and where possible accepted standards. Emissions factors come largely from respected institutions such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the European Energy Agency and peer reviewed papers.

This year, we further refined the impact according to appropriate allocation of each action. For example, for each resource efficiency action we determined whether each unit reduced or saved would cause 100% of one unit of resource production to be saved, or a lower factor depending on its impact on production and consumption. This decision was part of a concerted approach to hold our impact estimations to a higher standard, and while it did lead to reported reductions in impact relative to portfolio revenue growth, we are very pleased to have made progress on our methods and therefore accuracy.

Impact Results 2017

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: 29 711 ton
Water: 12 594 306 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: 53 470 ton
Water: 9 334 632 m3

Swap.com helps prolong the lifetime of clothes by giving them a new owner – and therefore typically replacing the need to produce a new item. This is important, because huge amounts of energy (which equates to various amounts of carbon emissions depending on geography), water and pesticides are required to produce and treat the cotton and other materials that make up our clothes.

In our calculations, we looked at how much clothing Swap.com sold during the year and assume that it is all cotton for simplicity. Then, we looked at research on how much carbon emissions and water is required to make clothes. As you can see, the estimated impact has been reduced for 2017 compared to 2016, which is due to us refining our estimation method (the actual impact has probably increased, since sales have expanded a lot!). This year, we introduced the assumption that reused clothes do not have the same lifetime as new clothes, so one reused item sold is not the same as removing the need to produce one new item. We also excluded the impact from using clothes in the comparison with new items, as the clothes sold through Swap.com will be used like a new one would be. This significantly lowered the numbers for carbon savings, but the water savings still increased since sales increased.

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: –
Water: 437 000 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: –
Water: 253 000 m3

The positive environmental impact of Sofi Filtration is probably the easiest one to understand: their self-cleaning filters clean water to such a level that water can be reused for industrial applications, and that same amount of new water does then not have to be taken from our lakes and rivers. Therefore, the amount of water they process is basically translated into the same amount of water savings. We do not look at carbon savings for Sofi but less energy is clearly needed to clean and recirculate the water onsite compared to pumping new water to the operation at hand, so if anything this number would have been a positive.

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: 121 510 ton
Water: 149 563 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: 97 854 ton
Water: –

Eagle Filters’ clean the intake air in natural gas power plants, making the blades cleaner, and thereby increasing their efficiency. That means less gas is needed to produce the same amount of electricity. Burning natural gas to produce electricity results in carbon emissions. By reducing the amount of fuel we need for this, we reduce how much fuel we need to burn. This also reduces the amount of water we need to cool the power plants (which we calculated for the first time this year for Eagle and the other companies).

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: 654 ton
Water: 5 935 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: 909 ton
Water: –

Buildings consume some 20% of the world’s energy output. Residential and office buildings, shopping centers - most buildings - require electricity, heating and/or cooling, and ventilation for people to live comfortably. Nuuka targets a low hanging fruit, which is making existing buildings more energy efficient. Lights are on and no one using them; the thermostat settings are wrong; vent ducts get broken; air conditioning is running when nobody is in the room; the list goes on. Nuuka helps ‘Big Real Estate’ identify these inefficiencies, and lower their energy use. Producing electricity in Finland, where most of their customers are, still requires burning some fossil fuels which emit carbon, and water to cool the power plants. Nuuka estimates how much electricity their product is saving, and we recalculate this into resource savings. The estimations of Nuuka can be seen as fairly accurate, as the software keeps track of this data for all buildings under management.

The reason why the impact decreased between 2016 and 2017 is because the electricity mix in Finland has been getting greener, and because we also included the heat use for 2017 (which increased slightly in Nuuka’s buildings to avoid electricity use).

Water savings were not included in our calculations for Nuuka in 2016 but starts this year.

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: 618 ton
Water: 525 749 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: 500 ton
Water: –

Did you know that producing food is one of the most carbon- and water-intense industries we have on the planet? It takes a lot of energy and water to produce food and unfortunately, much of that food is wasted, or plainly speaking, thrown in the bin. About a third of all food produced every year disappears as food waste. ResQ Club sells food that would otherwise be thrown away by restaurants, and thereby reduces the need to produce that much food.

We rely on research on how many resources are used for food production to translate this into carbon and water savings. Last year, we didn’t know much about the kind of food that was ResQ’d, but this year we have more accurate information on this (for example, how much meat was sold), and could do a more detailed estimation of the savings.

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: 5 477 ton
Water: 14 430 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: 5 057 ton
Water: –

Enersize’s solution produces savings in electricity in the factories where it is implemented by improving the efficiency of their compressed air system. Compressing air uses a lot of electricity, and Enersize’s solution reduces this demand by up to 30%. As was the case for Nuuka, reducing electricity consumption reduces the amount of fuel that needs to be burnt and water that is used to cool power plants. Since Enersize operates mainly in factories in China, where the electricity mix relies more on coal, the carbon savings are larger there than in Finland or Sweden. As Enersize is a listed company, their numbers have been calculated based only on publicly available information, is a rough and careful estimation made by us and does not in any way provide additional information to the market.

Total impact

The total positive impact for Loudspring’s portfolio companies can be summarized as below. As we said above, since we tried to improve our estimation methods as much as possible, the estimated numbers have not grown by that much, while the actual positive impact has most certainly grown a lot. For all of the companies, we try to take into account all the negative dimensions of their operations, which means that we take into account how much electricity was used in their offices and production, how much commuting they did, how much they used air transportation in their operations and so on.

Savings 2017
CO2 emissions: 157 969 ton
Water: 13 726 983 m3

Savings 2016
CO2 emissions: 157 773 ton
Water: 9 587 000 m3

How much, then, is this?

The CO2 savings are the same as 28 979 Swedes emit in one year. The water savings are equal to 5 491 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or the same amount of water as is used by 106 841 Swedish households in a year.

On a company level an interesting comparison is that Eagle Filters, located in Kotka, saved significantly more carbon from putting their filters to use than all the inhabitants in the entire city of Kotka emitted during the year, approximately 121 000 ton saved by Eagle Filters vs 104 000 ton carbon emissions combined in Kotka.

The most important take-away for Loudspring is that as our companies grow their revenues (which they did, combined revenue of our portfolio grew by 77% and ownership weighted by 119% during 2017), so does the positive impact they have on our planet and society. In fact, for each EUR of revenue some 8 kg of CO2 equivalents was not emitted and approximately 0.8 m3 of water was not drawn from rivers and lakes.

This is very different from the typical company, where the more you sell, the more you pollute.

We are happy about the impact our companies are having but we also realize the imperfections in measuring this in an exact and justified way as possible, and will do our best to improve on this over time. We will also do our best to grow our companies’ revenues even further this year as in our case it is the best way to have a positive impact on our planet.

We are in one way proud to say that we are one of the only (if not the only) company of our kind that presents this kind of data for our portfolio companies, but on the other hand we would prefer to not be alone in this endeavor, as it could be educational and eye-opening for many to do the same. We are therefore happy to share our complete methodology with anyone who so desires to gain insights from it and use it for their own company or fund.