Fall 2021: Greenportfolio BLOG POST

GreenPortfolio is an enterprise with the goal of helping people understand the impact of their lifestyle choices on climate change, encouraging regular individuals to shift to greener options once they know how much carbon is emitted from their everyday activities.

The client asked the assistance of SUMANI to conduct a study to measure how much carbon is reduced when one move’s his/her money from a conventional fund to a green one. In addition, the team was tasked to compare it against sustainable lifestyle changes practiced in the US, such as purchasing an electric vehicle, going vegan, avoiding flights, and paying a premium to buy green energy from the utility company.

To deliver a solution, the project members were grouped into four sub-teams responsible for driving the accomplishment of the following milestones: (1) a carbon calculator, (2) a use case that shows the emission comparison between a green fund and a dirty fund, (3) a use case of select lifestyle changes’ carbon footprint, and (4) the final whitepaper with the team’s findings and recommendations.

After four months of work, a ton of meetings, and a few setbacks, the team presented the final paper to the client with the following takeaways:

  • Green funds and dirty funds are not directly comparable – This is due to the fact that dirty funds often have more companies in it and a greater market capitalization. These two factors affect how GHG Emissions are computed (based on currently available best practices). Therefore, emissions data of funds have to be normalized before they are compared.
  • Carbon emissions data are sometimes dirty, incomplete, and (outright) erroneous – There is no regulation in the United States that requires publicly-listed corporations to disclose their emissions data. All of the publicly available datasets are voluntarily disclosed, which entails loose governance, resulting in bad quality data. This affects the comparison of funds, since one’s benchmark emissions may be incorrect from the get go.
  • Moving one’s 5-digit savings from a dirty fund to a clean fund is worth it – This is comparable to avoiding flights for half a year (transatlantic flights are the largest contributor of carbon, next to bringing a baby into the world).

On a more personal note, it was a great experience for me, the project manager. I had the privilege of working with an awesome team, one that was diverse, smart, and passionate about changing the world. There were many challenges that could have hampered our success, but the members persevered and ran the course. Their efforts bore fruit when the client commended us after our final presentation and offered to take us in after their funding rounds! I have to give the credit to Megha, Sahil, Patricia, Kivia, and Kushagra for the project’s success.

– Josh

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