The world generates a lot of greenhouse emissions. While some may argue that human contributions don't cause global warming, it's indisputable that a good chunk of emissions come from corporate activities. Most companies don't appear under the radar when it comes to environmental impact.
We wanted to create an informative application that helps the everyday user visualize a company's emissions contribution. In turn, an informed population incentivizes companies to reduce their own emissions. To achieve this, we created Greena.
What it does
Greena is a web application that takes boring greenhouse emissions data and displays it in a visually appealing and easily understandable format. It converts metric tons of emissions into some everyday, tangible object, such as cows or hamburgers. We think it's much easier to understand the significance of 3 million cows than 200 million tons of CO~2~!
How we built it
Greena is built as a web application on a Flask backend linked to a MongoDB database. The frontend interface is standard HTML/CSS/JS supported by a Bulma framework. Visualizations are generated by D3.
Challenges we ran into
One of the hardest things was definitely acquiring the data we wanted. Well formed company emissions data is not something typically disclosed to the public (except for oil companies), so we had to do some digging around to get a reasonable data set.
Additionally, getting the actual visualization to scale properly was also a challenge. While generating 2 million cows worth of emissions is pretty significant, nobody wants to see 2 million images of a cow on the screen. One of our greatest challenges was thus dynamically scaling the visualization so it would fit on the screen but still provide meaningful insight on environmental impact.
What's next for Greena
Right now, Greena only supports conversions for CO~2~ emissions. Our hope is to expand this to additional greenhouse emissions, including methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Additionally, we could go beyond just greenhouse gases; company food, water, and paper usage are equally important for overall environmental impact.
The data set we have right now only includes the top 500 companies. To be more informative, Greena needs a more robust, inclusive data set.