Monday, 5 November 2012

Cool Farm Institute plans a free online carbon calculator for farmers

The Cool Farm Institute has selected Best Foot Forward and CLM as software partners to build the current Cool Farm Tool (CFT), which helps farmers and growers take actions to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from their activities, into a free online carbon calculator for farmers and suppliers.

imageThe Cool Farm Tool was originally created by Unilever, the University of Aberdeen and the Sustainable Food Lab. They saw a need for an easy-to-use greenhouse gas calculator that could help farmers reduce emissions and engaged supporters to their cause from their Cool Farming Options partners, including, Heinz, Ben & Jerry's, Heineken, Stonyfield Farm Organic, Marks & Spencer, PepsiCo, Costco Wholesale, Oxfam and others. These organisations have shared ideas and insights and helped to create the CFT. It was subsequently agreed that a not-for-profit entity should be established – the Cool Farm Institute (hosted by the Sustainable Food Lab).

The current spreadsheet Cool Farm Tool is free to download and farmers have apparently found it easy to use and informative. Recently, though, the Cool Farm Institute announced competitive bidding for the development of the spreadsheet into an online carbon calculator. Eleven software firms responded to the invitation and Best Foot Forward, in partnership with the Centre for Agriculture and Environment (CLM), won the competition to put the Tool on the web.

Cool Farm Institute spokesperson Christof Walter said “The winning team stood out but the process was extremely competitive. The proposals we got were from global leaders in life cycle analysis, carbon footprinting agriculture, greenhouse gas modelling and software development.”

The online version of the Cool Farm Tool is expected to be available in May 2013


Review:  It’s good to see an industry coming together in this way to address carbon emissions. The Cool Farm Institute points out that collaboration lies at its core, ‘with large companies working together to develop a common approach that will help their suppliers cut their carbon impact’. The collaboration means that the companies will standardise the requests made to farmers and help share best practices across the industry.

The move from a downloaded spreadsheet to an online software tool is also very much the way the carbon management industry has evolved. The current Cool Farm Tool has been well received by farmers who have found it easy to use and informative. Having an online version available should make it even easier to access and promises to add value for users.

© The Green IT Review

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