I’ve been playing with an app created for PricewaterhouseCoopers called “Carbon Bigfoot by PwC. The consulting firm claims it’s “an innovative new Facebook application that enables students and environmentally conscious individuals to calculate their carbon footprint based upon three primary metrics – shelter, commute and devices.” Fundamentally, what you get is a carbon calculator that’s designed to help you understand energy use and carbon emissions.
The app is aimed squarely at the US at the moment and at a narrow audience: college grads. PwC says that Carbon Bigfoot was created in the spirit of its own environmental commitment. The firm recently announced that it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in the US by 2012.
“Social responsibility is becoming a key indicator for a company’s reputation as well as a growing factor in the employer choices of recruits,” says Bob Daugherty, US sourcing leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The new application provides students and young professionals with greater insight into PwC’s environmental focus as well as ways that they can lessen their own environmental impact.”
The firm also offers an impressive array of stats behind Carbon Bigfoot, quoting a recent survey among US college graduates that found 90 percent of respondents would actively seek employment at companies whose business practices reflect their own values. Another PwC study found that 83% of employees will only trust an organization if it is environmentally and socially responsible.
In other words, it’s a piece of graduate marketing. Unfortunately as apps go though it’s rather dull and uninspiring. The functionality is limited and the overall Bigfoot branding and footprint icons denoting your carbon impact are plain old clunky. I can’t imagine that many bright young environmentally aware students will share the app.
Carbon Bigfoot allows users to input various activities and aspects of their lives and see their impact on the environment displayed as one of a series of characters, each with a progressively larger footprint. As their energy and natural resource consumption grows, so too does their visual character representation. A fly or spider represents the smallest carbon footprints, while a dinosaur character, “Maxifoot”, represents the worst offender. Yep, you heard it right!
The app uses internationally accepted data to produce its results. Calculations are generated from AMEE, a neutral aggregation platform to measure and track energy data around the world. The system uses an advanced algorithmic engine that applies conversation factors from energy into CO2 emissions.
Carbon Bigfoot also allows users to track and update information over time to show their emission trends. Consistent with other Facebook applications, it can be automatically added to status updates and shared among friends. Users can also compare their carbon footprint with friends and exchange ideas to lessen their environmental impact.
Despite my reservations, I would like to see PwC bring the app to Europe. It’s frustrating that you can’t get around the US location element to fudge a UK address. It would be neat to add categories and items to make it more reflective of lifestyles. And while it’s designed to help attract staff to PwC, making it available beyond that narrow audience would have broader brand build benefits
The free application can be downloaded at: http://apps.facebook.com/carbon_bigfoot or by searching “Carbon Bigfoot by PwC” on Facebook.