SAP Makes Green Promises


The software giant has announced a product to manage customers environmental impact, and made a promise to cut its own carbon footprint

SAP has launched a set of sustainability initiatives including a line of management applications for environment health and safety (EHS), and a commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint. SAP is also introducing the internal role of chief sustainability officer to oversee its green IT efforts.

SAP has promised a new product, SAP Environment, Health and Safety Management, to make its customers’ operations more environmentally friendly. SAP Environment, Health and Safety Management is a line of applications created by SAP in partnership with TechniData, a company that provides EHS solutions.

The SAP EHS Management application is designed to help enterprise customers ensure that their organisations and supply chains more effectively meet EHS requirements and corporate sustainability policies. The software has been integrated into SAP Business Suite, but will also work with non-SAP solutions.

SAP has previously entered into partnerships to boost environmental sustainability. On 2 Feb, SAP announced an agreement with Landis+Gyr to create software that would give customers increased access to cost-saving energy data.

According to SAP, the company’s long-term sustainability strategy has its roots in the most fundamental of things.

“We have a moral obligation to start with ourselves and ensure that our business operates in a transparent and accountable manner, leaves a minimal environmental footprint and reaches out to improve the social situation of others,” Leo Apotheker, co-CEO of SAP, said in a statement. “As the leader in business software, we also deliver solutions that help other businesses achieve clarity across their operations and better manage their sustainability performance.”

SAP has announced that it will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 levels to year-2000 levels by 2020, using its own software to monitor and manage sustainability targets for its operations. The key solution here will be the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a carbon-accounting tool, which SAP states it will employe rigorously.

The area of SAP’s operations responsible for emitting the most greenhouse gas is travel, which produces 42 percent of SAP’s total footprint. The company plans to reduce its carbon footprint via abatement, and not via purchasing carbon offsets.

As part of SAP’s efforts to cut its greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half, the company will appoint 13-year SAP veteran Peter Graf to become its first chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of Sustainability Solutions. Graf will oversee all sustainability-related initiatives.

“To be a credible supplier of green IT solutions for its customers, SAP (or any supplier) needs to have its internal story and behaviours shaped up. So getting their sustainability report and a CSO in place are business prerequisites to executing on new elements of their product strategy,” Christopher Mines, an analyst with Forrester Research, said in an e-mail. “In addition, all IT suppliers these days are seeing environmental requirements cropping up in customer RFPs [requests for proposal].”

Mines added, “There is some PR value in being seen to be green. … At this point, it’s more avoiding the risk of being perceived as a laggard.”