This startup is helping rewire businesses and governments for the carbon economy

May 15, 2024 | By Rachel King

Darren Wolfberg’s journey from product design at Sony to pop-art artist to institutional finance to CEO of a digital finance startup is more straightforward than one might expect. As far back as the late 1990s, when he founded a company to help students access their information and applications online, wherever they were, he saw the potential power of connected devices and big data.

“The innovation that I saw then when I started at that company — which was cloud years  before cloud was a term — it’s the same kind of technology transformation that I see now,” Wolfberg says.

Today, Wolfberg is bringing everything he’s learned about connectivity, big data and finance to his startup, Triangle, which is aiming to revolutionize how businesses track and manage their environmental impact — and save and make money while doing it.

In order to meet the goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels, global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. As more companies set carbon neutral goals to meet their own, or regulatory, standards, many are struggling to accurately measure their climate impact.

International maritime shipping accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions. But when the International Maritime Organization, a trade group for the shipping industry, did a top-down estimate of carbon emissions, as well as a bottom-up audit with actual data, it found huge discrepancies — as much as hundreds of millions of tons.

Triangle works to help companies bridge these kinds of knowledge gaps and accurately track their impact through its data-driven, blockchain-based platform, which is designed to help companies to comply with regulations, secure funding and operate more sustainably, Wolfberg says.

Triangle gets its name from the way it triangulates data, gathering real-time information from smart meters, sensors and billing information, painting a comprehensive picture of a company's environmental footprint. This data is linked to smart contracts, which help secure a transparent flow of information between the sources and stakeholders. Using blockchain technology allows for super-efficient collection and distribution of real-time, auditable, traceable information.

One of the key things Triangle does is provide the tools to aggregate that data for compliance regulations passed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. Similar to generally accepted accounting principles for cash flow, the Task Force’s framework is becoming the standard for carbon accounting. Triangle is working to position itself as the solution for navigating this new economic landscape.

“Everyone now has to rewire themselves for this new carbon economy,” Wolfberg says.

More than mere compliance

Wolfberg originally viewed the infrastructure space as Triangle’s sweet spot, linking smart meters and other Internet of Things sensors to the blockchain to accurately measure and track climate compliance. “But as anyone who’s been in infrastructure knows, nothing there happens fast,” he says. Between zoning, permits and fundraising, he explains, infrastructure isn’t measured in days or months; it’s measured in years. And as a startup, you don’t have years.

So he turned his sights to banking and asset management, underscoring compliance as the jumping-off point for Triangle, whose tools can help these financial institutions better understand their climate exposure and risk. Banks can leverage Triangle to assess the environmental impact of their loan portfolios and offer favorable rates to sustainable businesses. Business owners who are tenants and property owners who are asset managers can streamline connectivity and compliance.

Now Wolfberg is eyeing payments as the next big part of his business, with Triangle joining the latest cohort of Mastercard Start Path Blockchain and Digital Assets. Startups in the Digital Assets program have the opportunity to collaborate, gain customized guidance from Mastercard experts and access its diverse customer base.

“We’re very excited to see how the Mastercard payments ecosystem integrates with some of the work that we’re doing at the intersection of climate and finance,” Wolfberg says. “Because we are blockchain-enabled, everything is auditable and traceable.”

Wolfberg hopes that as the world speeds up its effort to tackle climate change, Triangle will play a crucial role in helping companies manage their carbon footprints and achieve net-zero emissions: “We see ourselves as foundational contributors to the next 30 years of the carbon economy.”

Rachel King, contributor