GREENDELTA | Germany
After earning his PhD in environmental engineering in 2001, Andreas Ciroth decided to combine his experience in software development and consultancy research to form GreenDelta, a German-based consulting firm.
A New, Artful Approach to Sustainability
More than a decade later, the company is now comprised of eight employees who strive to focus on “the art of sustainability” when assisting clients with their needs. “We invent new approaches to solutions,” Ciroth told us from his office in Berlin. “When we’re working with a company with a lot of data and very technical needs, it’s all in how you approach the solution. You get a feeling of how to do it, which is why I like to express that it is an art.” He continued, “It’s a combination of taking a not-too-technical approach to problems, so that you can create a highly technical yet uncomplicated solution.” GreenDelta boasts a diverse roster of clients, from the German and American EPAs, to universities, global industrial players like Siemens or BASF, and local SMEs.
GreenDelta’s most unique offering is the software, openLCA. Developed since 2006, the program is, used “mainly in the United States and several European countries, but also in Asia, Australia, and Latin America,” Ciroth said. The popular program is similar to SimaPro, but available for free. “The normal LCA software is very expensive, it is really a bottleneck for first-time users,” said Ciroth. “With similar features to SimaPro Easy, we made the method more available,” to those who could best benefit from entering the LCA sphere.
Sustainable Software Solutions
In fact, it was the idea for openLCA which brought GreenDelta and PRé together. “We started LCA software development, but didn’t have the funds,” to continue, Ciroth said. He travelled to Japan for a conference, to present on the topic and hopefully garner some interest, and potential investors. It was there that Ciroth met PRé founder Mark Goedkoop, who agreed to invest in the project. “PRé has a very good understanding of LCA modeling,” said Ciroth. “The first time I saw a case presented by PRé, I thought, ‘This is how you should do an LCA.’ ”
In addition to collaborating on openLCA, GreenDelta is the SimaPro agent in Germany. “It is not too difficult to sell SimaPro,” said Ciroth. “It is a very powerful product that works nicely, I have a good feeling when people buy it.” Both companies have benefitted from the partnership. “I learned a lot, because we had been developing software, but we didn’t have contact with end users,” said Ciroth. “It was interesting to learn about their problems, how they use software, what they miss and what they understand.” Another benefit of working together, GreenDelta developed a data converter which worked in tandem with SimaPro. Users with certain data conversion needs benefited from the harmony with which the programs complement each other. “It helped us become very broadly known internationally,” said Ciroth.
Social Sustainability for All
When asked what the future holds for the sustainability industry, Ciroth is unsure, but hopeful. “Nobody knows, but when I started 14 years ago, some people detected an LCA approach to sustainability, but it was very exotic,” he said. And he hopes that, “LCA will become much more broadly used. It cannot be as costly as it is now, and it needs to be more readily available and less complicated — but somehow still correct.” Recently GreenDelta has also been focusing on the hot topic of social sustainability. “Social aspects should be considered more often as a perspective,” when conducting assessments, said GreenDelta Consultant Juliane Franze. To that end, Andreas Ciroth and Juliane Franze are working with UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative to develop the social LCA methodology.
“We created some methods which complement the guidelines,” in place, Franze told us, and they are working to develop case studies as well. “It is obvious that product-supply chains cause not only environmental impacts, but social ones as well, which should be considered to avoid or at least reduce negative impacts.”
With their technical expertise and a willingness to approach solutions in a nontraditional manner, GreenDelta is dedicated to bringing LCAs to all potential beneficiaries. Thanks to software innovations and a new commitment to social sustainability, the company is at the forefront of exciting new developments in sustainability. As Ciroth and his team know, it’s all about the Art of Sustainability.