July 16, 2007

Toronto employees to test Zerofootprint program

City of Toronto employees will be invited to calculate their environmental footprint and create goals to reduce and track this footprint over time, as part of the Zerofootprint Toronto initiative recently unveiled by Mayor David Miller. More than 40,000 city employees will be able to link to others with the same goals to create challenges and celebrate their joint successes. Eventually, Zerofootprint Toronto will be accessible to all Torontonians, enabling the city to devise the right programs and incentives for its citizens to live more sustainably.

A dynamic hybrid of environmental footprint calculator and a Web-based social network, Zerofootprint Toronto is designed to help citizens substantially reduce their environmental footprint. The new tool graphically illustrates to users the environmental impact of every aspect of their daily lives and at the same time allows them to network with like-minded colleagues, friends and neighbours to create a virtual eco-community. Users are encouraged to create joint initiatives and challenges, compile their results, and measure and celebrate their success.

The platform created and developed by Zerofootprint, a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization, is built on technology from Business Objects, a company specializing in business intelligence. Combining advanced business intelligence software and the best environmental engineering science, it allows users to calculate, analyze and visualize the environmental impact of their decisions about transportation, food, heating, cooling and lighting homes and offices, shopping, water use and waste production. It is this platform that enables this first-of-its-kind community engagement initiative, providing individuals, neighborhoods, businesses and other groups in Toronto both detailed information and a network to take action on climate change.

Zerofootprint Toronto aims to be the model for other communities, and Mayor Miller has issued a challenge to other large cities to Zerofootprint their communities. "The vision," noted Zerofootprint president and CEO Ron Dembo, "is to show the cumulative impacts of all participating cities, create joint initiatives, measure their achievements and celebrate their successes. By acting together cities can have as much impact on the environment as one large country."

As part of their work together to develop the Zerofootprint platform for cities, Business Objects and Zerofootprint are creating one of the world's largest eco-data sets. Information contributed from around the world will be analyzed by the collective intelligence of members of Insight, Business Objects' newly launched online community (www.insight.businessobjects.com). The Zerofootprint Toronto initiative will leverage the eco-data and the insights gained from it to benchmark against other cities and reveal which approaches offer the maximum footprint-minimizing impacts.

"The business intelligence features of this platform will allow people to see exactly what will happen if they - and others like them - change their day-to-day habits," explained Business Objects founder Bernard Liautaud, also the firm's chairman of the board and chief strategy officer. "The community can then apply its collective intelligence to change the way the world analyzes problems, works together in new ways and solves issues such as climate change. This collective intelligence has enormous potential to develop new initiatives for the common good," he added.

More information is available on-line at www.zerofootprint.net, www.zerofootprinttoronto.org,www.zerofootprintcities.com and www.businessobjects.com.

Zerofootprint also operates carbon offset programs and in this context has teamed with Air Canada to enable the air carrier to offer its customers the choice to reduce the environmental impact of their travel.

Customers booking travel on Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz or their regional partners through www.aircanada.com will have an option to purchase a carbon offset for their trip. They will find information about carbon offsets, a calculator to determine the amount of carbon dioxide their trip will generate and the cost to offset it, and an easy way to pay the cost of offsetting their trip either with their ticket purchase or at another time.

For example, based on the specifications of Air Canada's current aircraft, it will cost $19.20 for a customer to offset his/her share of carbon emissions on a return flight from Toronto to London and $12.80 for a return flight from Vancouver to Montreal.

"By working with Zerofootprint, we will make it easy for people to calculate the impact of their journey and mitigate those effects with a small, voluntary additional payment to support environmental projects that reduce greenhouse gases," said Charles McKee, Air Canada's vice-president of marketing.

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