GreenBox, a startup that says it wants to be “the TurboTax for environmentally conscious companies,” is commercializing its web-based sustainability reporting software following a pilot program with real estate asset management firms including Clarion Partners and Thomas Properties Group.
The company’s first product, geared toward companies that report to the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), should be available next month, GreenBox says.
The company is also developing an enterprise platform, slated for release in January 2014, and working with select, large companies through an Early Adopters Program to help it with the development and specifications of the platform. The Early Adopters Program is targeting pilot participants and other large non-real estate companies, according to a GreenBox spokesperson.
GreenBox says its goal is to make sustainability reporting something every company can do, regardless of size, resources or level of expertise. Its web-based wizards use automatic data import technology and a step-by-step process to help companies report to the GRESB and the Carbon Disclosure Project; create industry-compliant documents such as sustainability policies and GHG inventory management plans; benchmark performance using analytics; and use training/engagement tools to turn disclosure into action.
Matt Ellis, former director of sustainability solutions at CBRE, founded GreenBox earlier this year. While at CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services company, Ellis says he saw firsthand how frustrating reporting sustainability metrics and policies could be for his clients. The expense and resources required often forces companies to hire extra staff or outsource to sustainability consultants, Ellis says. Because of this, companies don’t realize sustainability reporting’s full cost savings, risk reduction or reputation enhancement, he says.
To fix this, Ellis says GreenBox will simplify the reporting process and make complex sustainability concepts easier for organizations to understand. In addition to helping companies report on their performance, it will also show improvement opportunities. The company’s Air Drop program also offers human advisors to help firms implement sustainability programs.
Josh Henretig, director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft who sits on GreenBox’s founding board of directors, says there is an “untapped demand for the kind of services and products GreenBox offers.” He forecasts the company’s technology will change the way firms approach sustainability reporting and initiatives.
GreenBox has raised more than $600,000 in seed capital, with a goal of $1 million before year-end.
According to Verdantix, US spending on sustainability — of which a significant part is reporting — will grow from $34.6 billion in 2012 to $43.6 billion in 2017.