The impact of Leaving the Lights On
I must confess that I do often forget to switch off the lights before I leave my hotel room. It is a bad habit, I know. Well I recently met Greg Page, CEO of Cargill who is a leading light on the subject, and he mentioned some examples, where we could be more responsible towards our environment. Transporting bottled water from Fiji is probably not very environment friendly, when you look at the fuel costs and the tons of CO2 pollution. And the energy consumption by leaving the lights on in the hotel room, even for a few extra hours leads to the emission of more than a pound of carbon-dioxide into the environment!
With the growing importance of Sustainability in business, it is imperative that we reduce our environmental footprint. We have to meet our needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In addition to the reports that we have been publishing for our stakeholders, we now need to publish “Sustainability Reports” that look at the environmental and social dimensions, in addition to the economic dimension. For example, CO2 emissions would now need to be monitored, in these reports.
Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart has committed the company to three goals: To be supplied 100% by renewable energy; to create zero waste; and to sell products that sustain Wal-Mart’s resources and the environment. These are ambitious goals, however the company appears to have made a lot of progress in the last 18 months. These three goals have led to the creation of 14 “Sustainable Value Networks”. Linda Dillman, the erstwhile CIO at Wal-Mart is now responsible for the Sustainability topic. I asked her how her background was helping her in the new role, and she said that her 20 years in IT were certainly helping her a lot in structuring down this huge topic.
By providing the discipline that an enterprise wide IT approach provides, one can turn expensive and siloed one-off projects into organization-wide, sustainable and repeatable processes. Workflow support can ease the process burden for managers who are now going to be responsible for embedding sustainability in their daily work. The other advantage of an organization-wide approach is that such a solution can have analytics already built-in or embedded, so that one does not need to worry about visibility and measurement later.
Let me share one of the things SAP is doing in this direction, that makes me proud. We are building a Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) building in our expansion plans for the US headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. It is the de facto standard for design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings as set by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Platinum is the highest certification available. SAP’s building will be the only corporate-owned Platinum LEED building in the mid-Atlantic region of the US and only one of 35 in the entire country.
The new building will have a green roof to collect and reuse rainwater that will be used in the cooling towers and as irrigation for the surrounding property.
The work environment would promote better productivity. Then there are the economic benefits of the new building that help the community, by creating new jobs in construction. Platinum certification ensures SAP employees will enjoy the best possible work environment. Geothermal cells will help cool and heat portions of the building.
The part that I like best about the new building is that sensors will automatically detect the amount of available daylight and dim the lighting levels and raise and lower shades accordingly! That way I do not need to remember to switch off the lights.