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Amit Chatterjee is chief executive officer and founder of Hara Software. Prior to founding Hara he led SAP’s fast-growing Governance, Risk and Compliance unit, increasing revenues from $30 million to[…]

A soup-to-nuts example of how a municipality can adopt sustainable practices in a way that’s ultimately beneficial for the bottom line.

Question: How did you help the city of Palo Alto develop a rnplan for sustainable practices? 

Amit Chatterjee: The rncity of Palo Alto is about a 60,000-resident area. It is a unique rnmunicipality in that it also owns its own utility. So, the breadth and rndepth of what it does actually enables us to really provide a rncomprehensive view of a multinational organization but within the rnconfines of a 60,000-resident municipality. 

With the city of rnPalo Alto, what we chose to do was look at the comprehensive deployment rnof Hara Solution. So, there are four modules to Hara. The first is rncalled, "discover," which is, know the size of your footprint. Right? Sorn if you consider in a conceptually a car, you look at your rearview rnmirror to identify where you’ve been. That’s roughly what "discover" rndoes. 

The second—the next three phases—are "plan," "act," and rn"innovate." Those are generally what you call going forward ideas. rnRight? You drive out your windshield. So, "plan" allows you to look rnforward to where some of the issues are, "act" is actually the rnactivities that you’re doing to identify the best ways to lower rngreenhouse gas management, to lower your wastewater, and to lower your rnsolid waste outputs. And "innovate" is as things change, new alternativern energy technology's going to emerge, rebates for incentives from the rnfederal government or municipalities, or states come available. You wantrn to ensure that you’re using the best practices. Also, as new success rnstories come out. If someone else in another region, let’s say in Spain rnsuddenly deploys a solar panel farm, a solar farm, that actually rngenerates higher return on investment, than they had seen previously, rnyou’d want to be able to access that best practices content. 

So rnthe notion was that city of Palo Alto knew that they had to go through rnthe "discover, plan, act, and innovate process." So what they first did rnwas they drove—they looked at the rearview mirror. They wanted to rnunderstand what their baseline footprint was. How had they done over a rnnumber of years and what was the opportunity that they saw going rnforward? So they wanted a forecast of where they would be under rnassumptions that city of Palo Alto is going to grow to “X” amount of rnresidents, therefore they were going to consume “Y” amount of rnresources. 

So once they created that footprint, they could now rnbegin to actually identify what they do next. That is where they moved rninto the plan and act stage where they actually distributed the notion rnof a carbon budget to each department inside the facility. That meant rnthat they would look at the police department, the fire, administrative rnservices, etc., and allot them not only a financial budget, but also a rncarbon budget, and energy budget. And so these are how many rnkilowatt-hours you have, or this is how much CO2 you could actually rndeploy. This allowed them to identify a very complex set of strategies rnthat they’d want to move out.  

My favorite story actually is onern that is probably the most sort of simple, but highlights the type of rnchange management behavior that sometimes can occur when you start to rnjust think differently around the environment. When the city of Palo rnAlto was thinking about this, "How do you find ways to reduce energy?" rnthe Chief of Police actually looked at it and saw the canine unit and rnrealized that the air conditioning was on. He realized that if I could rnturn off the HVAC and put on fans, the dogs would see no change, but I rnwould no longer have to be reliant on HVACs to cool that system. That rnactually turned out to be a very successful project and they actually rnsaw a return on investment by simply moving out that story. But you can rnvisually picture those wonderful German Shepherd that served the city rncontinuing to remain cool in the summer months, but there’s no HVAC rnsystem that’s generating CO2s into the environment. 

The city of rnPalo Alto seen from about anywhere from $600k-$800k in savings on an rnannual basis using our platform and that’s allowed them to be able to rncontinue to innovate on the future series of where they’d like to go rnforward.
Recorded on May 19, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman