Unfortunate EV choice won’t help SAP’s Greenhouse Gas reduction commitments

SAP's 2010 Global Greenhouse Gas Footprint

The graph above is taken from the Greenhouse Gas Footprint page of SAP’s Sustainability Report and it shows SAP’s global GHG footprint for 2010. Of particular note in this graph is that globally SAP’s 2010 carbon footprint for corporate cars is 24%. This is up from 23% in 2009 and 18% in 2008. This is obviously a problem for SAP who have publicly committed to reducing their Greenhouse Gas Emissions 51% (from their 2007 baseline) by 2020.

In an effort to help address this SAP decided to embark on a small scale Electric Vehicle (EV) project called Future Fleet. Future Fleet uses a fleet of 30 EV’s charged solely from renewable sources supplied (along with the charging infrastructure) by project partner MVV Energie.

SAP Future Fleet electric vehicle

SAP Future Fleet electric vehicle

SAP are using this project to test employee attitudes to EV’s but also to test their own EV eMobility charging and fleet management software which is being developed, and tested in tandem with the project. The software allows employees to log in and book cars for specific journeys between SAP sites in Germany, or for a day or a week at a time. The software also intelligently prioritises charging of cars based on expected upcoming journey duration, current battery state and other factors.

All good and laudable stuff. However, one major issue I have with the project is that for purely political reasons SAP chose an electric car for the project which seemed to be designed with the distinct purpose of turning drivers off EV’s. This happened because the project was part-funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and they insisted that SAP use a German-made car for the project. I have no idea of the legality of this stipulation but at first glance it would seem contrary to EU legislation.

In any case, SAP went to several large German manufacturers who were unable to provide EV’s for the project. They then found a local co. who took Suzuki car bodies (if memory serves) and installed a purely electric drive-train. This resulted in electric cars which have a number of issues:

  1. the cars’ look ugly – giving lie to the idea that EV’s are small, ugly, box-like cars
  2. the cars’ are incredibly basic inside – no electric windows, no electric mirrors, and a manual transmission (no, really!) and
  3. the cars’ energy management interface is horrible – it is an unreadable single-line LED, as opposed to the Windows-type UI now normal on commercially available EV’s and hybrids

This wouldn’t be so bad except that with SAP’s carbon emissions from corporate cars on the rise, SAP needs to be making EV’s an attractive proposition for its employees. With these cars, SAP risks turning its employees off EVs, and sabotaging its own GHG reduction commitments.

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Photo credit Tom Raftery


June 15th GreenMonk Energy & Sustainability show – Face Off!

Last week I wrote a post in response to Dennis Howlett’s ZDNet article questioning the causes of climate change and therefore our reactions to it.

I also mentioned Dennis’ post in last week’s Energy and Sustainability show so Dennis contacted me and asked for an opportunity to come on the show to put forward his point of view. Dennis is an old friend, so of course I said yes.

So yesterday’s Energy and Sustainability show was a Tom vs Dennis face-off on climate change (actually it was a good natured chat with Dennis basically saying he was asking questions because not enough people were being skeptical!).

What do you think?


Paper reduction – Green and Sexy!


Photo credit crustmania

Paper reduction is just not a sexy topic. Virtualising your servers, making your building more energy efficient, or using TelePresence to reduce your carbon footprint – these are big, exciting, engineering projects. How can you compete with that?

Well consider three little known facts:

  1. The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in OECD countries and is the third greatest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, after the chemical and steel industries (OECD Environmental Outlook, p. 218)
  2. Most of the world’s paper supply, about 71 percent, is not made from timber harvested at tree farms but from forest-harvested timber, from regions with ecologically valuable, biologically diverse habitat. (Toward a Sustainable Paper Cycle: An Independent Study on the Sustainability of the Pulp and Paper Industry, 1996) and
  3. Tree plantations host about 90 percent fewer species than the forests that preceded them. (Allen Hershkowitz, Bronx Ecology, p. 75, 2002)

Paper production is an enormous consumer of water, massive producer of greenhouse gases and it contributes significantly to loss of biodiversity?

Now paper reduction initiatives should start looking attractive!

What kind of paper reduction initiatives are out there?
There are lots of them and they start with simple initiatives like configuring printers to do double-sided printing by default and also to require people who send print jobs to networked printers to be physically at the printer (using a pin code or swipe code to verify) before it prints to avoid documents being printed and forgotten about. Adobe’s Randy Knox informed me when he gave me a tour of their San Jose HQ that Adobe managed to reduce their paper consumption by 40% simply by defaulting their printers to double-sided printing.

The move to digital printing is also proving hugely beneficial for paper reduction. HP have several offerings in this space. HP’s Forms and Document Automation product [PDF], by enabling on-demand printing, dynamic form creation and electronic distribution, drastically reduces paper use and does away with the costs and environmental impacts associated with warehousing and logistics. While HP’s Output Manager’s ability to manage, distribute and share information can cut down on the need for printed pages by as much as 70%. HP are obviously not the only ones in this space but I am acutely aware of their solutions as they are a GreenMonk client. Also, HP have had a long and successful track record in printing and imaging solutions.

When you think about paper reduction, though you also have to consider the heavy use accountancy systems make of paper. This is a problem companies the likes of billFLO are trying to address. billFLO creates a machine readable invoice which can be emailed alongside a pdf (human-readable) invoice. When the buyer receives the billFLO Invoice they import it into their accounting system with a click and archive the pdf invoice for future reference. This reduces paper use and the likelihood of data entry errors.

When it comes to paper reduction though, few companies have the focus, capabilities or paper reduction potential that GreenMonk’s latest client, StreamServe has. StreamServe’s customers are the telco’s, utilities, insurance companies, etc. – companies who can be easily creating 100m invoices per year and up. One StreamServe customer, Emdeon, was printing and distributing as many as 800,000 paper reports a day. By moving to StreamServe and SAP’s Business Objects, Emdeon has now automated that process and makes the reports available online.

StreamServe also works with their customers to reduce paper output by moving marketing messages from separate inserts accompanying bills to onserts printed directly on invoices reducing the number of pages sent. StreamServe also highlights the benefits of e-invoices to end customers. This typically increases the uptake of e-invoices, reducing the telco/utility’s paper footprint. And when you are talking of companies who print hundreds of thousands of invoices per day, moving customers to e-invoices can have a significant environmental benefit.

What other paper reduction initiatives can you think of? E-books e-paper and audio books are another superb way of reducing paper but I want to leave discussing them for a separate post.


Sunday Times and the Google non-story


Photo credit \<

I was more than a little surprised to read a story printed in the UK’s Sunday Times yesterday claiming that a search on popular search engine Google:

generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g

Reading the article a little more revealed that the research has not been peer reviewed, so its veracity as a piece of scientific research has yet to be confirmed. However, given that the researcher in question had no access to Google’s carbon data, this has to be, at best, educated guesswork.

On top of that, the researcher responsible for the claim is CTO of Maxtility, a company whose aim is to:

solve important problems in industries ranging from education to energy

he can hardly be said to be an impartial researcher.

Google responded to the assertions this morning. In Google’s response they mention the energy-efficiency of their data centers which:

means the energy used per Google search is minimal. In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than Google uses to answer your query.

Google goes on to claim that

one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven, but most cars don’t reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometer (0.6 miles for those of in the U.S.) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.

Google then continues the piece by talking up its philanthropic arm (see GreenMonks’ podcast with Vint Cerf about and the investments it has made through that vehicle in renewables, as well as its co-founding of the Climate-Saving Computers initiative.

As in most issues like this, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Google could do itself no end of good by having its carbon emissions third-party audited (under NDA if they are worried about competitive intelligence) while publications like the Times should know better than to run non-peer reviewed science stories from people who could be perceived to have their own agenda.

I won’t even go into on the childish Twitter bashing further down in the Times article – monumental ignorance trying to pass itself off as intelligent observation, sigh!

UPDATE – quite a bit of discussion about this happening – see Techmeme for more, also I see my old friend Jeremy Wagstaff came to a similar conclusion.


Schwarzenegger sends “a strong message” to the federal govt

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Photo Credit Thomas Hawk

I see Grist reporting that the US’ first Cap and Trade program went live. Power plant owners in 10 Northeastern states had to submit sealed bids in order to emit greenhouse gases yesterday.

Then the New York Times has a story about an alliance of 7 Western States and 4 Canadian provinces who have come together under the name Western Climate Initiative to also put a Cap and Trade system in place.

While the WCI draft plan doesn’t come into effect until 2012, the Northeastern states is now live! It only requires a 10 percent reduction in emissions by 2019 and that only in emissions generated by power plants but it is better than nothing and it sets a precedent.

And, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said

We’re sending a strong message to our federal governments that states and provinces are moving forward in the absence of federal action, and we’re setting the stage for national programs that are just as aggressive.

More aggressive, I hope – looks like politics has seriously diminished the “Terminator’s” definition of aggressive!


Energy efficiency, demand response and smart grids all part of the solution

Hymn Sheet
Photo Credit glynnish

The IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), a non-profit organization, is the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology. The IEEE released a position paper on Energy Efficiency recently.

In the paper they make the case for the importance of energy efficiency policies and urge legislators to promote aggressive policies and legislation to nurture development of energy efficient products and services.

Through improved energy efficiency, the United States can grow the economy, improve balance of payments, strengthen national security, and mitigate the environmental impacts of energy use by reducing emission of both air pollutants that reduce air quality and impact public health, and greenhouse gases that affect climate change. Increased energy efficiency will help to decrease our vulnerability to oil supply disruptions.

Specifically make eight recommendations for the US federal government to implement:

  1. Promoting user awareness of economical energy efficiency opportunities
  2. Promulgating minimum efficiency standards for products consistent with life cycle
    analysis and internalization of environmental costs
  3. Providing incentives for capital investment in energy efficient technologies and processes
    in all sectors, such as residential, commercial, industrial and transportation
  4. Developing technologies to further reduce energy losses in electric power generation,
    transmission and distribution
  5. Developing, commercializing and using more efficient electric-drive technologies in
    public transit, freight, truck and personal transportation, such as plug-in hybrid electric
  6. Improving and upgrading transportation systems to reduce energy consumption, and
    adopting “smart growth” policies that reduce distances traveled
  7. Using communications and information technologies, such as teleconferencing and the
    Internet, to reduce the need for business travel, such as in telecommuting
  8. Using demand management programs to reduce peak demand, in lieu of building new

Again we see reference to Demand Management and smart grid technologies. I had an analyst briefing with Cisco this morning and they too were referring to smart grids as were SAP yesterday.

When you see large commercial entities like SAP and Cisco and august non-profits like the IEEE and The Climate Group all singing off the same hymn sheet, about similar technologies to solve our energy problems you can be pretty confident that Demand Response and smart grid technologies are going to play a significant role in solving the energy crunch.