Sun Microsystems has Monday launched OpenEco.org, a new open online community to help organisations calculate, compare, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

OpenEco.org is free and open to all organisations, with the only requirement being that participants share their data, transparently or anonymously, with other community participants.

In the age of social networks such as Facebook, Sun said that OpenEco.org provided another kind of community for organisations to address climate change together.

It said OpenEco.org would fulfill an important need as companies, government institutions and non-governmental organisations were facing increasing pressure to set improvement goals and invest in projects to meet them.

It said greenhouse gas analysis was too often being conducted with home-grown or proprietary tools that often required significant internal resources or expensive consulting services.

With OpenEco.org, the idea is that carbon accounting data that might ordinarily remain in a company’s spreadsheet could instead be easily shared using the site’s greenhouse emissions tool.

The tool should enable organisations of all kinds to benchmark against one another, set realistic reduction goals and share best practices to meet them, said Sun.

Ceres, a leading coalition of investors and environmental groups, has joined OpenEco.org as an early participant. Natural Logic has been an early OpenEco.org participant as well, and the company’s founder and CEO Gil Friend has served as a key technical adviser to the site.

“The OpenEco framework holds great promise in helping companies and organisations work together to reduce global warming pollution,” said Andrea Moffat, director of corporate programs at Ceres. “Social networks and technology are becoming increasingly important in addressing social and environmental problems. We joined OpenEco.org because Ceres views Sun as a leader in building Web communities and using technology to drive society forward.”