Co-founders Victor Cruzate (left) and Andreas Birnik (right)

If you’re like us at the Harvard Office for Sustainability you care about your carbon footprint and hope to make a difference in the fight against climate change. But if you’re like me, a newcomer to sustainability, calculating your personal emissions, tracking your actions, and finding a practical, affordable, and manageable way to make a real difference can seem like a daunting task. Enter CarbonStory—a new social start-up founded by a Harvard alum aimed at providing users with a fun, informative, and constructive way to be part of the solution to climate change.

Co-founded by Andreas Birnik, a recent ALM graduate from the Sustainability and Environmental Management Program run by Professor Jack Spengler at the Harvard Extension School, Victor Cruzate, and Olof Lundström, CarbonStory is a crowd funding platform where people can come together to support climate change projects, calculate and track their own personal emissions and carbon footprint, and research and purchase carbon offsets in a new way.

“During my ALM studies in Sustainability & Environmental Management, I was frustrated by the fact that various online carbon footprint calculators provided vastly different results. This situation could potentially contribute towards skepticism that climate science lacks rigor given that users get a different carbon footprint whenever they try a new calculator," says Birnik. “I hope that my research, over time, will contribute toward driving greater standardization in the way that carbon footprints are determined. To make a more immediate impact toward fighting climate change, we created CarbonStory.”

The calculation tool, based on Birnik’s capstone project at Harvard, responds to specific countries and lifestyles, incorporates the newest data and evidence, and keeps a history of your impact over time. CarbonStory offers a large portfolio of carefully selected, certified green offsets, such as reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency projects, that users may explore and choose to support for as little as a few dollars a month to neutralize their carbon footprint. The platform also goes the extra step to offer assurance that money spent is actually going toward the purchase of offsets.

What’s great is that CarbonStory gives you a personal account that records your greenhouse gas impact and activities over time. Users can come back periodically and offset recent activities that made a larger climate impact. CarbonStory aims at making it easier to play a part in understanding and addressing personal connection to climate change. The platform also invites community education and team building—users can compare activities with other CarbonStory users, share projects on Facebook, and encourage friends and family to neutralize their impacts by showing off their success. 

I hope that my research, over time, will contribute toward driving greater standardization in the way that carbon footprints are determined.

“CarbonStory is game changing because we leverage the full power of crowd funding, gamification, and social media to make the fight against climate change more personal and engaging for users. There is already a Harvard team created in CarbonStory and I am hoping that more alumni, students, and faculty will join so that we can show the world that Harvard cares about fighting climate change.”

The Harvard alum recently launched the beta version of CarbonStory as the SXSW and was recognized by VentureBeat as the second best bootstrapped startup at SXSW and as the seventh best overall startup. Learn more about the project here

Please note: The products and companies included in the "Greenpreneuers" story series are for informational and educational purposes only to highlight the work of Harvard alumni in the sustainability field.  Harvard University and the Harvard Office for Sustainability do not specifically endorse or recommend any of the products or companies in this story and the story may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of Harvard University or the Harvard Office for Sustainability.