SAP Watch

Nov 11 2009   10:08PM GMT

SAP not only talks the talk of sustainability, it walks the walk

Mperkins Matt Perkins Profile: Mperkins

SAP continued to make its case for sustainable action at SAP TechEd 2009 in Phoenix, revealing some interesting  ways of monitoring carbon reduction and predicting possible cost savings through sustainability practices. And while it’s clear that SAP sees a market opportunity, it’s also clear that it’s practicing what it preaches — and people are listening.

While sessions covering such areas as SAP’s strategy for Green IT and SAP virtualization  didn’t include any announcements, they did reinforce how serious the company is about reducing its carbon footprint.  What really stood out at the event was how eager attendees were to learn more about how to incorporate sustainability into their own practices.

“I think it is being looked at as a responsibility more than it has in the past,” said Burton Cooper, vice president and CIO for Vi-Jon, a private label health and beauty care company. “I’ve had it in my budget that it (sustainability) should be the first thing for us to get on. We actually have customers who are pushing it.”

One of the things that caught Cooper’s eye at a session called Green IT Through Archiving and Content Management was an Xcelsius-based Carbon Footprint Calculator that Kris Inapurapu, director ECM Strategy at Open Text Corp demonstrated during the presentation. The calculator computes the sustainability benefits that can be realized by an organization based on effectively applying enterprise data and content management. But interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only session with a way of tracking energy and cost savings through a calculator of some sort.

John Astill, a development architect for SAP Labs, explained that as part of a volunteer side project, he helped design the Home Carbon Challenge. The HCC is a Facebook application that essentially monitors carbon emissions in the home using monitoring devices, such as smart meters

An extension of the HCC is the SAP Campus Challenge, which is based on the same idea, but for students in dorm rooms rather than families in the home. Participants can also create their own profiles using SAP Carbon Explorer outside of Facebook which can help monitor carbon emissions and also help manage and predict cost and carbon savings if certain activities are changed in the household (such as unplugging appliances that aren’t being used). One of the biggest motivators for participating, Astill said in his session, is competition between friends on Facebook and on other social media forums. But it’s also a way to spread awareness that others are taking part in green practices at home.

“I think that it’s fundamentally a better way to help change human behavior,” said John Mayerhofer of SAP Labs, who attended Astill’s session. “People run faster when they run with others.”

Indeed. If the Home Carbon Challenge, as well as the Xcelsius-based calculator, picks up pace, it could prove to be quite the useful tool for businesses and individuals to learn from each other on energy efficiency and to have a little fun competition on who’s got a leg up on the race for sustainability.

While TechEd was moving along in Phoenix, SAP CEO Leo Apotheker continued to the SAP-sustainability push by addressing the issue at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“Sustainability is one of the most vexing things that humankind has to address,” Apotheker said at the event. “If we don’t do something about this, the impact of Greenhouse Gasses is going to pose a significant threat to our basic existence. Our way of life, the way we act, the way we behave, the way we are going to live. So we have to take this very seriously.”

Alexander B. Howard, associate editor for, noted that SAP is currently addressing sustainability in-house and looking to provide the tools for other organizations to do so as well. This would include an on-demand, cloud-based tool for managing carbon footprint. The tool is available at and is the result of SAP buying into carbon management earlier this year when it acquired then-privately held Clear Standards.

“We need to understand that for business leaders, many of us in the world believe that it makes good sense to do something about sustainability,” Apotheker said. “It’s not just a moral issue, it’s also a very good business opportunity.”

That’s certainly something SAP has made evident in its approach to going green – the business benefits of sustainability. The company focused on those benefits when it mapped out its sustainability strategy at Sapphire in May. What will be interesting is to see if users also start taking this advice and applying it to their own practices, whether it be with tracking and monitoring methods, or just even by the simple notion of promoting energy efficiency in the data center.

Here’s a closer look at Apotheker’s take on SAP’s approach to sustainability:

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="437" height="370" wmode="transparent" /]

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  • Sap2009
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