This Earth Day, Meet Five Tech Nonprofits Building Products to Save Our Planet - Fast Forward

April 22, 2022 | Tech Nonprofits

This Earth Day, Meet Five Tech Nonprofits Building Products to Save Our Planet

Climate change – one of the most pressing issues of our time. Yet in the face of this urgent crisis, there’s reason for hope: climate tech nonprofits. Chances are that after you learn about these cutting-edge climate solutions, you’ll be hopeful too.

Meet five tech nonprofits doing critical work to curb climate change.


Software that enables smart devices to use energy from clean power sources

“How clean is the electricity I’m using right now?” This was the simple question Gavin McCormick set out to answer when he launched WattTime in 2014. Since then, he and his team have scaled WattTime to empower individuals, companies, and governments to answer this same question. The result? Millions of tonnes of carbon reduced.

When you use electricity, this energy can be powered by a fossil fuel plant or a renewable energy source like wind or solar. WattTime builds software that promotes cleaner energy consumption. Its Automated Emissions Reduction (AER) technology knows when energy will be drawn from these cleaner energy sources. The impact is huge: with AER, IoT devices (think: smart thermostats and EV batteries) can automatically run on cleaner energy sources.

Gavin McCormick dropped out of his environmental economics PhD program to launch WattTime. Today, he’s enabling devices across the country to run on cleaner energy.

WattTime has partnered up with companies across sectors, helping them leverage AER to drive cleaner energy consumption in their products. With a growing number of partners in the electric vehicle space, WattTime recently announced a partnership with EV charging platform FlexCharging. Thanks to AER, drivers can now prioritize lower grid emissions when they charge their electric vehicles. 

Hopefully you’re tracking that timing matters when it comes to energy consumption. Location matters too. In true WattTime fashion, it’s building technology to identify where to pull power from. WattTime’s Emissionality program identifies which renewable energy projects will reduce the most emissions because of their location. Through a partnership with Edison Energy, companies can use this location data to make climate-informed decisions when investing in renewable energy projects.

WattTime is also tracking global emissions from space in collaboration with Climate TRACE, a coalition it founded alongside Al Gore and other climate organizations. Check out co-founder Gavin McCormick’s TED Talk on this work. (And psst – WattTime is hiring! Check out their openings here).

Climate Cabinet Education

Open data tools to drive climate action at the district level

This stat may shift how you think about climate action: 75% of U.S. climate goals can be achieved by government action. Climate Cabinet Education is on a mission to ensure state and local governments take these actions

Here’s how. Powered by its dataset on local climate action (the most comprehensive in the country), Climate Cabinet Education identifies the highest-leverage policy opportunities for climate impact. Its tools empower climate champions, from state officials to climate advocates, to make decisions that better our planet.  

And it’s working! In early 2022, Climate Cabinet Education’s technology identified high-stakes climate policy rollbacks that were in the works in Virginia. Its tools enabled Climate Cabinet Education to warn the Virginia Climate Coalition about an anticipated attack, via a new bill, on cities’ ability to electrify buildings. If successful, the bill would prevent a shift from fossil fuels to clean electricity for heating and cooking. Climate Cabinet Education and the Virginia coalition worked together to coordinate a strategy to block the bill – and won. In the words of Delegate Candi Mundon-King (VA): “[Climate Cabinet Education’s] work put a spotlight on the bill and kept it from slipping through the cracks.”

Climate Cabinet Education is building data-driven tools that help policymakers take high-impact climate action.

Climate Cabinet Education is driving this kind of impact at scale. Through data-driven policy toolkits, it’s equipping local policymakers with climate talking points, best practices, and resources that work for their district. We can’t wait to see how Climate Cabinet Education continues moving the needle on climate change.

Anyone can explore Climate Cabinet Education’s tools! Check ‘em out here.


Open data platform to support and connect the global restoration movement

From forests, to grasslands, wetlands, and coastal habitats, our planet’s natural ecosystems are the lifeblood of our planet. Amidst rapid global warming, the health of our ecosystems is degrading. That’s where Restor comes in. On the vanguard of the global restoration movement, Restor is on a mission to conserve – and restore – what’s left of our ecosystems.

Restor is jumping on a huge opportunity to curb climate change. Restoration has the potential to decrease a whopping 30% of accumulated global carbon emissions. What’s more, restoration benefits people: ecosystem restoration could improve food security for 1.3 billion people. Restor’s approach is to harness the power of data and community to inspire more restoration action around the world. Its open data platform empowers anyone to analyze restoration potential for any location, find a restoration project to support, and connect with others in the movement.

Restor’s platform houses over 10,000 public restoration and conservation projects that anyone can browse.

Thanks to Restor, the movement is growing. In March 2022, Restor celebrated reaching 10,000 restoration and conservation public projects published on its platform. Like this wetland restoration project in Cape Town, South Africa where the community fought the construction of a shopping mall on the culturally and spiritually important Princess Vlei wetlands. 

Restor is expanding its work in a key way: through government partnerships. The tech nonprofit is partnering with Costa Rica, making Costa Rica the first government to use Restor to support its initiatives around forest cover protection. With scale undoubtedly in its future, we’re excited to see how Restor continues inspiring communities and governments to join the restoration movement and play a role in the fight against climate change.

Interested in getting involved in a restoration project near you? Explore the Restor platform and learn more about its work here.

Climate Neutral

Software tools that certify carbon neutral companies and make carbon measurement more accessible

Does the label to the left look familiar? If it does, then you’ve shopped at a company that’s Climate Neutral Certified. Climate Neutral is a tech nonprofit that helps everyday consumers (like you) support brands working to eliminate their carbon emissions. As importantly, it helps companies take concrete steps to reduce their carbon footprint.

Imagine you’re a consumer brand – let’s say you make shoes – and you want to reduce your environmental impact. To get started, you and your team would use Climate Neutral’s software tools to easily and cost-efficiently measure your emissions. You’d then leverage Climate Neutral’s certification tool to commit to carbon reduction strategies in the production and distribution of your shoes. Once certified, your company’s shoes would carry the Climate Neutral Certified label. In addition to representing your commitment to our planet, carrying this label has another strategic benefit: consumers increasingly care about the environmental implications of their purchases.

Today, 268 companies are Climate Neutral Certified. This portfolio includes everything from retail brands like sunglass maker Sunski, to food and beverage merchants like Inspired Coffee. As you just learned, these companies embark on internal emission reductions in their supply chains. They also commit to carbon credits, or external projects across the world that directly reduce emissions. These projects range from forestry, to renewable energy, to cookstove initiatives. In 2022, Climate Neutral Certified brands invested in carbon credits that have avoided or removed a total of ~900,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. Put differently: this impact is the equivalent of removing more than 200,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year. Wow. 

Want to dive deeper into Climate Neutral’s huge impact? Lucky for you, the Climate Neutral team is always sharing exciting updates on its blog. Check it out here.


Open-source platform leveraging data to fight global air pollution

Air pollution is a public health crisis. Poor air quality is the cause of 8.8 million deaths each year. 90% of these deaths are in developing countries. To tech nonprofit OpenAQ, a root cause of this problem is air inequality, or unequal access to clean air. OpenAQ is tackling air inequality by democratizing open air quality data. From scientists, to technologists, to local community members, OpenAQ empowers anyone to address the health and environmental impacts of air pollution. 

OpenAQ’s platform centralizes an enormous amount of air quality data. Read: 19 billion air quality measurements from 48,000 locations across 155 countries. People all over the world leverage OpenAQ to power their air quality solutions. Think web and phone apps, peer-reviewed scientific research papers, air quality sensor efforts, and more. A user in Mongolia might build an open-source tool using OpenAQ’s universal dataset, which a statistician in Indonesia could then use to analyze local air quality data.

OpenAQ’s World Map shows where air quality data is available on the platform globally.

You may have heard of these two OpenAQ partners: the City of Los Angeles and NASA. They teamed up on the Predicting What We Breathe project to address the effects of air pollution on LA’s 4 million residents. Together, they built an open-source machine learning algorithm that combines NASA satellite data within-the-ground air quality data. The algorithm is powerful: it can uncover air quality patterns not perceivable by human analysts. These insights will help local governments and other air quality advocates develop more impactful strategies to combat air pollution. Keep an eye on this tech nonprofit. There’s no doubt OpenAQ will continue scaling its work in exciting ways.

Whether you want to explore air quality data itself, OpenAQ user success stories, or learn about how to get involved, the OpenAQ site has it all. Explore it now.