What is your company’s Sustainability Communications Program like?


Photo credit _ A l v a r o _

I guess the first question should be does your company have a Sustainability Communications Program? If not, why not?

As I mentioned in my last post, it is now time for everyone to

band together not only at national levels, but at company and community levels to do everything we can to work to reduce our impact on the planet. Don’t rely on your politicians to do it for you. Get together with friends, neighbours, co-workers and make a change.

So, what is your company doing about sustainability? Some companies invest heavily in this space. Others roll it under the marketing umbrella and still more, don’t even have a sustainability policy.

How do you improve your company’s sustainability policies? I don’t know! But more than likely, you or others in your organisation have great ideas about ways your company can be more environmentally responsible. Why not poll them?

Roll out a bottom-up Sustainability Suggestions Wiki in your organisation today. Most people have excellent ideas on how to improve things in their company but assume they will not be listened to. A wiki allows people to make suggestions in a transparent, meritocratic manner.

Incent people to do so. Give prizes for best suggestions every month. Prizes could be anything from something small like a CFL light bulb, or a Current Cost meter, all the way up to sponsorship of an MBA in Sustainable Business, or any number of things in between.

Go further, video and podcast interviews with winners – make them heroes in the company. The rewards for the company will often be cost savings through efficiencies but also a more highly motivated workforce, who see the company as being responsible and caring of what they (the employees) think.

Enabling bottom-up suggestions in this manner (and subsequently acting on them) promotes a “We are all in this together” spirit and empowers people to make a real difference in the fight against climate change, a difference which they may be unable to make as individuals.

Why wouldn’t you do this?


  1. says

    Your comments on CSR and the desire to see more grassroots level work to focus additional resources in this area are well made. I applaud your message.

    So with regards to the Current Cost meter – just how much energy does that consume? Clearly it derives power from some source to 1. drive the data logging and power consumption information, 2. to read the utility pricing information then calcluate in real-time and store in some form of memory the data for reporting, and 3. the LCD display – which in itself is far from “Green” as the LCD manufacturing industry is ripe with numerous and sundry chemical waste and hasardous materials issues.

    If one truly wants to get a handle on reducing their household energy consumption they are better served by eliminating all phantom loads of which this real-time meter would rapdly be classified thereof within a few months as once the novilty has worn off the use would no more concern themselves with that than the blinking 12:00 on their still-plugged-in just in case they ever need it VCR with 15 to 30 watts of stand-by load including aforementioned clock display.

    Since most homes already have some form of utility provided power meter – disclaimer – this may not be the case in all geographies – then all the resident need do is simple sneaker-net and clipboard monitoring a few times a week to get a good handle on their day-to-day or week-to-week variances in energy consumption.

    Nowthen a more appropriate device to provide as an incentive in my estimation is a kill-a-watt (note: North American version shown. 200-240 50Hz models available from one or more sources) meter that enables one to truly understand the power load and profile of several if not most household devices save for perhaps the electric oven, air conditioning (central, plug-in window and wall mounts can be monitored), and other building embedded electrical systems.

    Now then with one of these in their hands they can quickly determine how much energy is being consumed by phantom loads and idle devices in stand-by mode.


  2. says

    The current cost psu is rated at 35 millAmps 0.035 x 230 = 8.05W, however I think it doesn’t actually drain this amount of power fulltime. I don’t have my power meter to hand to give an actual figure.

    However I’ve found that the Current Cost meter is a good constant reminder in terms of behavioural change. Seeing the watts consumed and knowing that 1W drain for a year is about 1 UK Pound means I’m a lot better at turning lights off when leaving a room. Sneaker net and clipboard is not the same as seeing the watts figure from your sofa, out of sight is out of mind.

  3. says

    Jack – thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    Tbh, I have no idea how much power the Current Cost draws. They mention a cost of 2.5p per week to run. Maybe someone else can comment on that.

    Afaik, the device doesn’t take in real-time electricity pricing from the grid, rather you program in your per unit cost as provided on your utility bill.

    Afaics, a lot of the arguments you make against the Current Cost would apply equally to the Kill-a-watt.

    Then again, there are plenty of other prizes which could be chosen – the examples I referred to were merely that, examples.

  4. says

    Great idea Tom and one which we at SAP are trying hard to engage. Building on from the leadership of Sun and Intel as well as Timberland – we have tried to take it one step further by asking all stakeholders what they deem to be material sustainability issues for SAP. we take this into account for our future sustainability management and reporting strategy. We believe sustainability reporting is a report to stakeholders so active stakeholder engagaement is important and to be taken seriously. For example SAP has not yet announced sustainability targets precisley because we wanted to take the time to hear from stakeholders and validate our own thinking before jumping straight to the answers.

    Note that establishing materiality is a cornerstone effort of GRI standard sustainability reporting — establishing consensus with stakeholders on exactly what should be reported upon. Imagine for example an auto manufacturer not reporting on climate change or apparel retailer not reporting on supply chain human rights. These examples are obvious but discerning focus of materiality can be more tricky and subtle for other companies and this goes to heart of what is considered greenwash and what is considered leadership. For example should a software company only focus on the fabled ‘98%’ and ignore its own operational impact as immaterial? Opinions differ — I wrote a blog post for ZDNET on this topic here We are rather minded to think software compaanies have to take care of both roles — enabling sustainability performance and taking responsibility to reduce our own impact as well.

    We have been pondering the issue of web 2,0 engagement for sustainability recently – see this FT piece . Also, watch out for a report to be issued soon by AccountAbility w support from SAP.

    The SAP sustainability survey & results are public and instantly available at . To take it a step further we have opened a community space where all stakeholders can review our sustainability report and offer comment, ideas, criticism and suggestions. Why do we do this? A few reasons — if the sustainability report does not offer credible assurance levels to stakeholders then it arguably misses the target. Social media engagement can be an important way to openly engage stakeholders who – lets face it – are stretched to travel to every company meeting. Assurance standards such as AA1000 and SA8000 are built on principles of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘responsiveness’ and as such translate well to social media. Second — more and more companies are realising the benefits of transparency far out weigh vastly the perceived risks of openness. Witness HPs leadership now in supply chain disclosure . These benefits include greater trust and reputation, line of sight to externality related risks and opportunities, innovation blow back, talent attraction & retention, investor confidence, sales and marketing.

    Great post Tom – the momentum towards more precise stakeholder engagement and dynamic reporting and assurance is here to stay moving towards greater utilisation of social media.

  5. says

    Kill-a-watt is a one-time use only model in that it does not need to remain plugged-in. In fact mine is safe in a desk drawer back in the office. But I’ve a nice database assmebled of typical appliances and office equipment energy draws.

    As to real-time – well I love the real-time MPG gauge in my Audi A4. Wish more cars came with these. Instant (after 10 meters) and average MPG are nice to have. They do encourage proper driving behavior and have been very helpful in my efforts towards hyper-mileage but sadly the A4 Cabriolet, especially living in Southern Californa, is not a good candidate for significantly beating the EPA rating though my vehicle is tracked under the and does beat the EPA estimates but only slightly.