Green bits and bytes for Feb 10th 2011

Green bits & bytes

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Some of the Green announcements which passed by my desk this week:

  1. Digital Lumens announced that its Intelligent Light Engines have received NOM (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas) and UL (Underwriters Laboratories Canada) marks, which are respectively Mexican and Canadian certification equivalents of UL Listing in the United States and allow the products to be sold in Mexico and Canada.
  2. CA Technologies and Capgemini announced a partnership to establish a global Energy, Carbon and Sustainability Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service. The idea of the partnership, is to help customers better manage complex sustainability data collection and increasingly challenging reporting demands, enabling them to focus on sustainability strategy and carbon reduction activities.
  3. Sandbag.org.uk has reported that the EU Commission has voted to ban industrial gas offset credits from HFC and N20 destruction projects from the next phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, beginning in 2013. This, they say, is important because it shows a willingness to fix the problem on the part of the politicians and because it shows that campaigning works!
  4. CA Technologies have announced that Cynthia Curtis has been promoted to vice president and chief sustainability officer
  5. Career Intelligence (i.e. recruitment) site Vault.com has launched a new section of their site dedicated entirely to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The new CSR area of the site helps jobseekers discover the types of careers in this burgeoning field, and commentary on how CSR is changing traditional career fields.
  6. Boston-Power, maker of high-end lithium-ion batteries, recently announced the installation of Keith Schmid as CEO. Schmid takes over from company founder Christina Lampe-?nnerud will become executive chairman. Schmid joins Boston-Power from Power Distribution, Inc., a provider of power distribution equipment and services, where he served as president and chief executive.

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Photo credit Nick Harris1

Sustainability reporting in tech companies – the hardware vs software divide

Nature's fragility

Photo credit Koshyk

I wrote (and subsequently updated) a post a few weeks ago reviewing the Sustainability Reports of various companies in the technology space.

I updated the review again this afternoon (see the updated review below) with the 2009 reports from IBM, Adobe and SAS.

Something which struck me previously, and which hasn’t changed with the new rankings, is the yawning chasm in attitudes to sustainability reporting between hardware versus software companies.

Obviously this divide has a lot to do with risk – hardware companies who have significant manufacturing facilities, with massively complex supply chains, often containing toxic substances have far more exposure to risk than software companies.

This is reflected in the table below where eight of the top ten listings are hardware companies.

On the other hand, the bottom of the table is all software companies (with the exception of Apple – because they refuse to produce a sustainability report!).

The real odd one out though is the leader, SAP. Their sustainability reporting is out on its own. It is way ahead of any other organisation I have come across and this despite the fact that they are a software company!

One factor may be that they have a significantly European representation in senior management – they have a very different thought process when it comes to sustainability. SAP say they want to be an exemplar and an enabler – and, so far, they seem to be delivering on that.

None of the other software companies seem to take sustainability reporting anywhere nearly as seriously as the hardware companies.

Why do you think that is?

[table id=11 /]

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Global telco’s sustainability reports reviewed

Nature's fragility

Photo credit WTL photos

When I published my review of tech company sustainability reports a couple of weeks back, it was suggested that I should add in telco’s as well. Instead, for clarity, I decided to publish a separate review of telco sustainability reports here.

[table id=9 /]

Some points to note from the review:

  • BT & Telefonica both produced very good reports (though Telefonica’s was only in Spanish which limits how accessible it is outside of the Spanish-speaking world)
  • T-Mobile were let down by their chairman, Ren? Obermann, whose contribution was a cut & paste of an online interview he did a couple of months back as opposed to a report specific communication. Matters were made worse by the fact that the picture of the chairman in the report shows him with bottled water. In their Sustainability Report!
  • China Mobile produced an excellent report (in Chinese and English) which was let down only by the lack of external audit
  • Telecom Italia’s report was one of the best in terms of data transparency
  • AT&T’s 2008 report is very nicely laid out but it is dated, only to GRI level C and not externally assured
  • Telenor didn’t bother producing a report (that I could find) but they do have a Corporate Responsibility site while
  • 3 (owned by Hutchinson Whampoa) don’t have any Corporate Responsibility site or report that I could find on any of its sites. For shame.

If you have any updates or would like to suggest a company, please feel free to do so in the comments below and I’ll happily update the post.

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Tech company sustainability reports reviewed – Updated

Corporate Social Responsibility
Original photo by ATIS547

I was asked on Twitter recently where to find a list of links to tech companies’ CSR reports.

I didn’t know where to find one, so I built one and as well as just the links, I also added in a few extra observations I noted about the reports.

[table id=4 /]

As previously reported here, the 2009 SAP Sustainability Report is superb.

Another company in the list worthy of note is BT, whose report, despite the lack of interactivity, is the only other report to hit the GRI A+ rating.

HP’s site has gone heavy on design to the detriment of usability which is unfortunate because some of the content is really good.

After that, almost all of the companies who have a 2009 report published have done a really good job. The exception to this is Microsoft whose 2009 report, while an improvement on previous reports, still has a long way to go to approach a professional CSR Report standard.

Of the companies who have yet to publish their 2009 report, Oracle and Adobe’s 2008 reports are lacklustre attempts, at best. Neither report to GRI standards and both are long on pretty pictures and short on relevant data.

Having said that, at least Oracle and Adobe are producing Sustainability reports.

The three laggards in this list are Google, Amazon and Apple – none of whom are producing sustainability reports at the minute.

In their defence, Google has its Going Green at Google website and Apple has its Apple and the Environment site, both of whom go into considerable detail on each companies initiatives. In Apple’s case, it does go deep into a lot of the data you would normally see in a Sustainability report. Why it refuses to produce a formal report is beyond me.

In contrast, Amazon’s attempt at an Environmental site/page is an embarrassment. If this is the best they can do, honestly, they’d be better off doing nothing.

One issue I noted was that HP, Cisco and Apple [PDF] all report on sourcing 100% renewable power in Ireland. This is not possible for the reasons I outlined in this post.

What other companies should I add to this list? Please feel free to suggest any in the comments and I will update the list.

UPDATES:
Since publishing this, Nokia have brought out their excellent 2009 report and it is now included above.
Also, based on suggestions received on FaceBook I have added details about 3 other companies (NEC, Fujitsu and Indra Sistemas). It was also suggested there that I go over various telco companies CSR reports. I’ll leave that to a separate post.

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Curt Johnson, Chair of Diversey, talks RoI of Sustainability, “CO2 is Waste” and energy savings

Diversey invited me to attend their Climate Change Summit in Amsterdam earlier this week. I went along and was very pleasantly surprised by Diversey’s commitment to corporate sustainability.

Towards the end of the day I had a chat with Curt Johnson, the Chair of Diversey, about their sustainability initiatives. Some of the highlights of the conversation:

  • Sustainability goes back to Curt’s grandfather leading an expedition into the Amazon in the 1930′s! – 1:00
  • Curt’s father (Sam Johnson) banned CFC’s as propellants from all SC Johnson products before there was any legislative requirement – 1:20
  • A cost/benefit analysis shows that being sustainable produces ROI – 2:40
  • Diversey are tripling their target and now aim to reduce CO2 emissions 25% by 2013 over their 2003 baseline – 3:56
  • Diversey’s experience is that for every $1 invested in emissions reductions, they get $2 back – 4:30
  • Diversey are tripling their target and now aim to reduce CO2 emissions 25% by 2013 over their 2003 baseline – 3:56
  • CO2 is a waste by-product of our operations… if you can reduce CO2 it is inevitable that you will create a more efficient system that is more cost effective – 4:40
  • CO2 is waste, so if you minimise CO2, you minimise waste and you maximise efficiency and increase profits – 6:00
  • Diversey’s sustainability initiatives have a huge influence on employee morale, engagement and retention – 6:31

Some other great tidbits which were left on the cutting room floor were:

  • Diversey participate in the EPA’s SmartWay program to reduce the impact of shipping
  • Diversey intend to be the first company to publish the carbon footprint of all of their products on the products
  • Diversey have converted to a daylight office cleaning regime for a one-off cost of $100,000. This move is now saving Diversey 8% on their annual energy bill and
  • Diversey actively works with their customers to help them to reduce their chemical usage!

June 1st GreenMonk Energy and Sustainability show

Had a great show today with plenty of links and feedback from viewers – here is the transcript from the show.

03:31 Tom Raftery: Can anyone see/hear me?
03:31 cgarvey: A/V all good
03:31 mikethebee: Vid and auio ok
03:32 mikethebee: my typing rubbish
03:33 Tom Raftery: http://environment.uk.msn.com/news/headlines/article.aspx?cp-documentid=147696467
03:35 Tom Raftery: http://planetark.org/ark/53151
03:37 Tom Raftery: http://www.coolerado.com/news/
03:38 Tom Raftery: http://redgreenandblue.org/2009/05/26/oil-giant-shell-on-trial-for-nigerian-environmentalist-saro-wiwas-execution/
03:39 Tom Raftery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Saro_Wiwa
03:40 Tom Raftery: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1189929/The-return-flight-bumblebee-creates-buzz.html
03:42 Tom Raftery: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/27622.wss
03:44 Tom Raftery: http://www.apesphere.com/blog/29/2009/05/30/Has_CSR_become_a_code_word_for_profit_trumps_ethics
03:46 Tom Raftery: http://www.newenergyworldnetwork.com/renewable-energy-news/by_technology/energy_efficiency/energy-technologies-institute-develops-uk-energy-system-blueprints-for-2050.html?utm
03:48 Tom Raftery: http://community.nortel.com/go/blogs/greenroots/2009/05/28/guest-post-energy-star-standard-released-for-computer-servers
03:49 Al: Bit of a joke though
03:49 Tom Raftery: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/coming-soon-a-new-eco-label-for-tvs/
03:51 Al: Energy star rating
03:51 Al: For servers
03:52 Al: The power we consume on our servers is less than the tolerance on their specs
03:52 Tom Raftery: http://www.clearstandards.com/carbontracker.html
03:53 Al: Except in this case our servers would not be
03:54 Al: compliant that is
03:54 Al: They should ahve been much more agressive
03:54 Al: Just like carbon targets
03:55 dahowlett: aaah…stream here as well
03:55 Tom Raftery: http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/ariel-schwartz/sustainability/volvo-employees-green-their-commutes-cell-phone-application
03:56 dahowlett: I was over the other place
03:56 dahowlett: yes – I was over on the Ustream thingy
03:56 Tom Raftery: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/real_time_noise_and_air_quality_monitoring_over_mobile_internet.php
03:59 Tom Raftery: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/05/28/cnnheroes.suzan.lakhan.baptiste/index.html?eref=rss_topstories
04:01 Tom Raftery: http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/eco-tech-scientists-to-recreate-stars-on-earth-for-limitless-energy
04:04 Al: Its the carbon police
04:04 Al: Their coming to get you
04:04 mikethebee: Gr8 feature on BBC R4 Farming today about Thanet Earth. First time I had heard of it. http://www.thanetearth.com/
04:04 dahowlett: the fire is under your desk
04:05 dahowlett: in themeantime…it’s time to go sunbathing
04:05 cgarvey: All good Tom, thanks again for the informative show!
04:05 dahowlett: nice one Tom
04:05 Al: Thanks Tom
04:05 Tom Raftery: Thanks everyone for joining in and contributions
04:05 Tom Raftery: Great show see you all here next week!
04:05 mikethebee: well done again
04:06 Al: Maybe using Google’s wave would be a nice addition
04:06 Tom Raftery: I’d love a Google Wave account
04:06 Tom Raftery: There is only a v limited release of accounts afaik yet
04:07 Al: Maybe you have to attend a European Google I/O
04:07 Tom Raftery: Probably – and can’t make a case for going to it :-(
04:08 Al: Cheers Tom l8r

I see Google have published an article o…

I see Google have published an article on their ambitions to achieve carbon neutrailty . It is not a bad piece (if you ignore the strong emphasis on offsets).

However, what is supremely disappointing is Google’s complete lack of any attempt at Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting. Most significant IT companies have a CSR site with downloadable CSR reports. Most conform to the Global Reporting Initiative standards.

The only significant IT player I found who doesn’t do any sustainability reporting whatsoever is Amazon! Obviously Amazon doesn’t believe in sustainability.

Corporate Social Responsibility – tech companies reviewed!

Corporate Social Responsibility

According to its Wikipedia definition, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.

Companies are now starting to report on their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in greater numbers. Drivers for this include the rise in ethical consumerism, socially responsible investing, employee recruitment and loyalty, changing laws and regulations, increased scrutiny and transparency and risk mitigation.

According to the Sustainable Investment Research Analyst’s (SIRAN) 2008 report (pdf warning):

  • 86 of the S&P 100 companies now have corporate sustainability websites, compared to 58 in mid-2005, an increase of 48 percent;
  • 49 of the leading U.S. companies produced a sustainability report in 2007, an increase of 26 percent from 39 in 2005

In an attempt to define standards and make these reports cross-comparable, the Global Reporting Initiative has come up with a sustainability reporting framework. According to Wikipedia:

The GRI Guidelines are the most common framework used in the world for reporting. More than 1000 organizations from 60 countries use the Guidelines to produce their sustainability reports.

A quick search of tech sites reveals:
IBM’s stellar Corporate Responsibility site – IBM’s site has a ton of good information and a downloadable CSR report (pdf) and includes the Global Reporting initiative (GRI) index. If there is a tech company with a better CSR site than this, please tell me, I haven’t found it yet!

From the Dell site you can see dell has been producing Sustainability reports back to 1998 (called Environment reports back then). The 2008 CSR report (pdf) is linked to from the company Values page and is a really good example of how to do these reports well.

SAP’s Sustainability site is pretty bare bones (and though found by Google, I couldn’t find a link to it on the corporate website! Having said that, their Sustainability report (pdf), linked to from their Sustainability site, is very good for a first effort. It includes a GRI index and while SAP admit that the report is prepared to GRI Application Level C, they give a commitment to producing a “report to GRI B+ standard externally assured and audited in second quarter 2009″.

Cisco’s CSR site includes a great 5 minute video on CSR from Cisco CEO John Chambers and some of his CSR related staff. Unfortunately the video is not embeddable and is all rights reserved or I would embed it here :-( Cisco’s CSR 2008 report is available in a Flash interactive version or the more traditional (and easier to consume) pdf version! Again this report has a GRI index included.

Sun’s excellent CSR site includes a podcast, lots of great links to relevant information and its superb 2008 CSR report (pdf) – again with the GRI index data.

Oracle also has a good CSR site. Oracle’s site links to its 2008 Corporate Citizenship report (pdf) but it doesn’t include a GRI index link.

HP’s Global Citizenship site looks good until you check out their CSR report – it dates to financial year 2007 (which ended October 31, 2007). In its defense, it does include a GRI index but guys, come on, 2007?

Neither Intel nor AMD have reports for 2008. But while Intel have a very comprehensive downloadable pdf report on their CSR initiatives for 2007, the AMD offering consists of a disappointing four tables of performance indicators across the last few years.

If you are looking for Microsoft’s CSR report, you will find it buried under Resource Center -> Awards and Reports -> now click on the Reports tab on their Corporate Citizenship site. The most recent report is dated 2007-08. It is a 5 page document of mostly images, there is no mention whatsoever of GRI, there is no executive involvement, and in comparison to previous years reports, it looks like Microsoft’s limited focus on CSR has waned completely.

Having said that, at least Microsoft has produced a report! Apple didn’t even do that. When As You Sow, recently tabled a shareholder resolution that would require Apple to publish a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, The company issued a proxy filing asking shareholders to vote against this resolution, saying that the publication would be an unnecessary expense that would “produce little added value.”

Having said that, at least Apple have a section on their site dedicated to their environmental efforts, Amazon don’t even appear to do that. Their filed reports page makes no effort to include any reports about environmental stewardship or corporate citizenship although given the story which came out before Christmas about Amazon’s shocking employment practices, that can hardly be any surprise.

Ironically Google’s CSR efforts are supremely difficult to find! They do have a corporate website dedicated to their Green Initiatives but like Apple, they too don’t have any CSR report (that I could find!).

Who’d I miss? Who is better? Who is worse?

Original photo by ATIS547

Doug Neal on Moving beyond the 2% solution

Doug Neal is a Research Fellow at the Leading Edge Forum – Executive Programme and is responsible for research into Innovating through Technology.

While working with Yale Professor Dan Esty, author of Green to Gold, to develop a holistic view of the challenges and opportunities of this new Corporate Social Responsibility frontier, Doug and the LEF team realized that even if we could wave a magic wand and reduce computer power use to zero, we would have successfully dealt with only 2% of the CO2 problem.

In this presentation at the 2008 it@cork Green IT conference, Doug talked about how to use IT to help address the other 98%, suggested how firms should proceed in dealing with this global issue, and socialising carbon data.

GreenMonk talks Sustainability with IBM’s Stan Litow

IBM

Photo Credit ChicagoEye

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My guest on this podcast is Stan Litow. Stan is IBM’s VP for Corporate Affairs and Corporate Citizenship.

IBM recently issued their 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report. It is an extremely interesting, very comprehensive overview of IBM’s work in this space. You can download the entire report here (PDF warning!).

Having gone through the report, I was interested to discuss it with Stan and he graciously agreed to come on the show and gave a fascinating look at some of the thinking behind IBM’s initiatives in this space.

Download the entire interview here
(20.3mb mp3)