UWE partners with Spherics to win £50k from the Business Innovation Fund

By Nick Batten on 23 May, 2022

UWE has partnered with Bristol-based carbon accounting software company Spherics to win £50,000 from the Business Innovation Fund, a programme run by the West of England Combined Authority.

The strategic partners will work with existing Spheric commercial customers in the construction and real estate sectors, to further develop the Spherics platform for these sectors.

Spherics has developed a world-leading automated carbon accounting system, which uses natural language processing to attribute conversion factors to financial transactions, dramatically improving the accuracy, and reducing the cost of carbon footprinting. However, this approach can have difficulty in coping with highly material-intensive supply chains, such as those found in the construction sector.

Construction sector emissions are tough to calculate. The overwhelming majority of direct emissions are not under the direct control of the reporting company, as they come from the supply chain, which often comprises many thousands of small suppliers. Because of these challenges, many construction businesses only measure their own direct emissions, ignoring the supply chain, embodied carbon and site emissions that are far more important. 

The Spherics platform already addresses the supply chain issue, as it was designed to automate calculation of supply chain emissions. This project builds on this functionality by integrating the platform with Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) databases, and by developing integrations with enterprise procurement platforms. This will allow accurate, robust, real-time carbon accounting to be used across the construction sector. Since the built environment accounts for around 40% of GHG emissions, and practically all of it requires deep net-zero retrofit in the next few decades, this functionality is critical. 

UWE brings to the project world-class academic expertise in Environmental Science, Architecture, Sustainable IT and Data Science. As well as supporting the project with the latest research in these disciplines, the University’s role is to act as an objective “critical friend.” 

The Business Innovation Fund supports businesses from a wide range of sectors to help develop innovative products, processes and services that not only fulfil market demand, but also deliver industrial growth.    

James Longhurst, Assistant Vice-Chancellor : Environment & Sustainability at UWE, said, “Enterprises need reliable data from which they can plan their decarbonisation journey. Data that are transparent, inform action and are reproducible. Spherics software helps companies to identify their carbon footprint and their major carbon sources  from which  effective mitigation  actions can be implemented.

“Carbon footprinting is becoming more and more important but without the right tools enterprises are at risk of making decisions based on poor or very partial information. Spherics offer high levels of confidence in the calculation of a carbon footprint from which effective decarbonisation actions can be planned and delivered.”

Duncan Oswald, Head of Climate Science at Spherics, added, “The funding is transformative, as it gives us the opportunity to build out functionality that we know is essential, but which is so innovative that the industry doesn’t even know it needs it yet.”