Summer of 2022 was such a scorcher, am I right? 🥵
Funny thing, this summer is actually on pace to be one of the top 10 hottest years on record, with record-breaking heatwaves across Europe, the UK, China, and parts of the US.
The big contributing factor: climate change.
Climate change is responsible for extreme heat waves, along with increased flooding, poorer air quality, and severe storms, and we’re headed for a far worse outcome if we continue unsustainable practices, such as littering, wasting food, and depending on fossil fuels.
So, one question remains: What’s being done about it?
The race to achieve net-zero emissions is on, and that means businesses must get in on the action. Many companies are leveraging technology to combat climate issues. From policy change to carbon removal to alternative energy sources, innovative solutions are plentiful, but are they sufficient to avoid a catastrophic climate crisis climax?
If you’re a job seeker looking to align your career around your personal values and make a meaningful impact through your day-to-day work, a career in climate tech is an enticing path. There are thousands of open jobs at both for- and non-profit companies around the world.
Let’s take a look at some teams behind climate tech companies that are going above and beyond to make our planet a cleaner and healthier place. Maybe you’ll even find your future employer.
(Listed alphabetically by category.)
Running an organization can be harmful to the environment. Carbon emissions can be emitted by facilities when products are manufactured because of electricity use, heating, and food production. Organizations can even play an indirect part in climate change through the use of vehicles used to deliver packages and waste products that are thrown out. These activities produce a carbon footprint that businesses weigh against their bottom line.
Anthony Oni wanted to provide this data to organizations of all sizes. As the Founder and Board Member of Cloverly, he recruited a team to build an API that tracks each activity that a business performs, like delivering an item or using electricity, and provides data on how much carbon is being produced at a granular level. Equivalent and more sustainable actions are suggested for each activity to lessen the amount of emissions used. In sum, Cloverly helps organizations track how much carbon they use and provides alternatives that are safer for the environment.
Climate change and global warming have become widely spoken about topics and many companies are taking strides to meet net-zero goals and cut back on emissions. However, many of them may have goals and plans in action but may not know which plans are working or even how to take steps to achieve these goals.
Luckily, the co-founders of Optera are addressing climate change and helping companies achieve emissions targets both internally and beyond their own operations. Tim Weiss, Ty Colman, and Jason Denner formed a team that developed sustainability management software that enables companies to collect data across operations and value chains, gain detailed analyses for natural resource use, and achieve their climate goals. The Optera team collectively has provided innovative solutions that save companies money and accelerate progress towards their sustainability goals for almost two decades.
While emissions from buildings account for almost 40% of the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases, some of the energy that is used is wasted. In fact, 30% of the energy used in buildings is wasted. With unnecessary electronics left on, inefficient heating and cooling systems, and unused vending machines, careless building energy use can contribute significantly to the carbon footprint.
SaLisa Berrien is on a mission to leave a better world for future generations. She’s the Founder of COI Energy, where she and her team are working to eliminate energy waste in buildings and repurpose it for good causes. COI Energy provides facility energy data along with suggested ways to meet energy-saving goals and strategies that save money. Additionally, management system software connects utilities, grid operators, and customers to protect the electric grid and manage renewable energy resources.
There are several natural energy sources available to us here on the surface of Earth, like solar and wind, but what about getting energy from below the planet’s surface? While many think that geothermal energy is all about capturing heat from geysers and volcanoes, there’s more to it than that.
Kathy Hannun believes that using this type of energy is a convenient and hyper-efficient way to heat and cool homes and buildings. She founded Dandelion Energy, a company that supplies heating, cooling, and hot water by moving heat between the home and the Earth. They install a heat pump inside the home and a buried pipe system (called ground loops) that circulates heat and transfers fluid. During the winter, the pipes move stored heat into the home; during the summer, the heat is returned to the ground. This novel technique has helped Dandelion Energy customers save money and increase the value of their home.
Simply reducing the amount of carbon emissions produced may not be enough to stop climate change. Carbon dioxide removal can reverse much of the damage done and can compensate for emissions from sectors that can’t yet completely decarbonize.
So, Matt Atwood and Bran Raskovic founded a startup called AirCapture that addresses legacy CO₂ emissions. The team is working to capture CO₂ from the air and put it into their clients' production processes, allowing them to create products in a cheaper and greener way and go carbon neutral, or even carbon negative. Their goal is to use Direct Air Capture, which is now supported by the Inflation Reduction Act, to support carbon-to-value industries and alleviate energy poverty globally.
This summer has brought record-breaking high temperatures across the country, causing extreme heat in states including California and Illinois. And we have carbon emissions to thank.
To get a bit nerdy - currently, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in Earth’s atmosphere is nearly 412 parts per million (ppm), which is up 47% since the beginning of the Industrial Age and up 11% since 2000. The team at Charm Industrial is working to bring these levels back down to 280 ppm.
Co-founders Shaun Kinetic and Kelly Kinetic first began working together in 2017 to find a profitable way to sequester carbon. Three years later, Shaun made advancements in taking agricultural residues and converting them into carbon-rich bio-oil. He also discovered that pumping this oil underground was a cost-competitive and sustainable way to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Charm Industrial was able to get this process going within 10 months and completed over 5,000 tons of CO₂ removal just last year.
Methane emissions are a primary contributor to ground-level ozone, which causes 1 million premature deaths every year. But did you know that some methane emissions come from farm animal farts?! During digestion, ruminant animals, like cows and sheep, undergo a process called enteric fermentation where their bodies break carbohydrates down into simple molecules and produce methane as a byproduct. This process accounts for 27% of annual methane emissions in the US.
Alex Brown, Caroline McKeon, and Daria Balatsky put their heads together to create a method to reduce greenhouse gases in the cattle industry. They found a solution in an unlikely plant-based material source: algae. The team at Alga Biosciences have created a new feed additive that can decrease agricultural methane emissions using the plant, which is safe, inexpensive, and sustainable. The addition of algae to cow feed has reduced cow methane emissions by 90% and allowed farmers to get paid in carbon credits and see notable efficiency gains.
Many studies have shown that climate change has increased wildfire frequency and wildfire season length. In fact, worsening heat and dryness could lead to a 50% increase in fires and devastating effects like air quality deterioration and deforestation.
Founder and CEO Grant Canary started DroneSeed to mitigate the negative effects of deforestation through rapid reforestation practices. The team at DroneSeed combines aerial seeding and hand planting to build healthy and resilient forests. Their drones use Light Detection and Ranging as well as aerial imagery to identify areas that need seeding and to gather information on soil quality, water runoff, and sun exposure to determine what species should be seeded at the site. The drones then dispense seed vessels, which help the seeds survive in harsh, post-fire conditions.
There are various types of pollution that are negatively impacting our environment, including air, water, and soil pollution. Emissions from cars, homes, factories, and power plants build up over time, causing global warming. While these emissions are viewed as a waste product, they’re not completely a useless to homes and businesses.
Driven by the need to solve this problem, Sean Simpson founded LanzaTech where he gives pollution a purpose. He’s tied the development and extension of gas fermentation to produce sustainable fuels, chemicals, and proteins. The carbon recycling technology captures the carbon emissions and feeds them to bacteria that converts them to valuable raw material commodities that can be resold, recycled, renewed, or whatever the customer sees fit. The LanzaTech team is now exploring ways to apply AI to enhance the platform.
Aviation contributes to about 2.4% of the global annual carbon emissions, emitting 100 times more CO₂ than a bus or a train ride. While 2.4% may not seem like such a high percentage, there’s pretty much no more harmful way to burn fossil fuels and heat the planet than flying. Now, we’re all familiar with electric cars, but what about electric planes?
In 2017, Nathan White and Chuma Ogunwole began working on a project that could revolutionize the aviation industry. As Co-Founders of Pyka, they provide safe and environmentally friendly air travel with electric autonomous airplanes. Supplied to agricultural service providers and farmers, their planes make aerial crop protection safer and less harmful to surrounding environments. Pyka hopes to bring the future of electric aviation a step closer, one plane at a time.
Transportation accounts for 27% of all US emissions, releasing 24 pounds of global-warming gases for every gallon of gas. This statistic sparked the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), supporting renewable energy use and using up to 43% less emissions than diesel vehicles. The most challenging hurdle: EVs need to be charged.
With this dilemma in mind, Joshua Aviv made access to electric charging easier and more convenient. He founded SparkCharge, where his main focus is portable charging. With the portable EV charger, users on the platform are able to charge their electric vehicles virtually anywhere. The chargers can power batteries in cars that can travel up to 70 miles an hour and can be used in combination with Roadie (a mobile fast charger for EVs) batteries to tailor the amount users want to charge.