All sustainability is local

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Elisa WoodBy Elisa Wood
March 15, 2012

“All politics is local.” This quote from the late US Congressman Tip O’Neill continues to frame political strategies today. It turns out his premise also applies to environmentalism. All sustainability is local, as a Massachusetts software company reveals in a new application that takes on the complicated task of quantifying the green efforts of corporations.

Massachusetts-based Energy Points has devised a sustainability algorithm that considers location, right down to the zip code, in sorting the many variables that reveal how well a company performs environmentally. What’s most sustainable in one location might not be so important elsewhere. For example, installing LED lighting could be wise move for a Massachusetts operation, but a company in the Mojave Desert might be better off with a new water management system, says Energy Points founder Ory Zik.

We tend to use the terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ loosely, and they have become more advertising slogans than clear descriptions. Energy Points says it overcomes this problem by measuring sustainability “on math not myth.”

More specifically, the company takes its cue from Weight Watchers by reducing a complex set of calculations into a simple point system. Energy Points converts a company’s sustainability profile into what it calls an energy per gallon metric, a mirror of the per gallon of gasoline measure that is easily understood by most Americans.

But there is nothing simple about the software platform’s data base, which took three years to build. In addition to location, the algorithm considers such variables as a company’s management of fuel, transportation, waste, water and electricity, where resources are used, when they are used, and how they are created, distributed and treated.


Companies can use the platform to determine their best course of action and to gauge how they compare to others.

“The market place is rewarding companies that are more sustainable. Energy Points will allow companies to quantify and then communicate sustainability in way that the market place can understand,” said Zik, who also founded solar thermal company HelioFocus.

Energy Points recently announced that it has secured a $3 million initial round of financing led by Plan B Ventures. The company is using the financing to accelerate the adoption of its platform. About 15 companies are already on board to pilot the product.

Given today’s corporate interest in sustainability, and the need for honesty in green measurement, Energy Points may be on to something. Now if someone would create a scientific metric to verify political claims, local or otherwise….

Elisa Wood is a long-time energy writer whose work can be found at

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


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