Left to right: Dean Jackson, director, Planet Footprint; Debbie Lenson, manager environmental services, Eurobodalla Shire Council; Mark Shorter, sustainability coordinator, Eurobodalla Shire Council.

26 August 2013 — The typical Australian council has about 100 gas and energy accounts, and another 200 water accounts, Planet Footprint founder and director Dean Jackson says.

So helping to tackle their greenhouse gas inventory was the first step of the company he started in 2005.

It has since morphed into collecting greenhouse gas information, along with fleet fuel and street lighting, to helping councils manage their energy efficiency.

Mr Jackson, who studied business and marketing at university, then moved into information technology, said he had always been interested in environmental issues.

Planet Footprint, where he also remains in charge of IT, was the perfect fit, he said.

“I wake up happy to go to work four days out of five, so you can’t get better than that,” he said.

The company works with 165 councils around Australia and also branched out to America when Jackson and his family moved to Michigan in 2009 for a two-year period.

There they have 30 clients in 15 states, and Jackson plans to go back after a decision over the past two years to focus on improving service, products and a new website platform.

“We were there during the GFC so we had moderate success but we are ready to go back to the US market,” he said.

Mr Jackson said with the cost of electricity rising 30 per cent in Australia over the past three years, working on energy efficiency made both economic and sustainability sense.

But he said the rising cost meant some smaller councils, who had joined through state government sponsored subscriptions in the early days, had dropped off the books with them “struggling to pay for their energy, let alone a subscription”.

“But we have been able to convert most of them – they see the value.”

Mr Jackson said Planet Footprint employed 14 people at the moment with the company growing. In fact, just before he spoke to The Fifth Estate, he’d been interviewing for a new position.

The company is based in Gerrigong, a town with a population of 3500, about two hours from Sydney, and 30 minutes from Wollongong.

This year the company has carried out a series of regional workshops around Australia, touching physical base with about 90 per cent of its clients, Mr Jackson said.

Usual contact was through web conference, telephone and email, “so it was a good chance to get in front of them”.

The company also held its first subscriber recognition awards for 2012-13 as a way of encouraging participation and giving clients a goal to strive towards.

Of the 165 council, 27 received gold awards, 30 received silver and the rest all received bronze – by achieving a set of standards around energy efficiency.

Mr Jackson said what sets the company apart from other energy and carbon footprint companies was providing the service to get data into its clients’ systems.

“What makes us happy is that our clients are using the information we are providing and they are becoming more energy efficient.

“We have been in the business eight years and that’s the satisfaction.”