SAP’s Palo Alto energy efficiency and CO2 reductions

Cisco Telepresence

As mentioned previously, I was in Santa Clara and Palo Alto last week for a couple of SAP events.

At these events SAP shared some of its carbon reduction policies and strategies.

According to SAP Chief Sustainability Officer Peter Graf, the greatest bang for buck SAP is achieving comes from the deployment of telepresence suites. With video conferencing technologies SAP is saving ?655 per ton of CO2 saved. This is hardly surprising given Cisco themselves claim to have saved $790m in travel expenditure from their telepresence deployments!

Other initiatives SAP mentioned were the installation of 650 solar panels on the roof of building 2 which provides for around 5-6% of SAP’s Palo Alto energy needs. This means that on sunny days, the SAP Palo Alto data centre can go completely off-grid. The power from the solar panels is not converted to AC at any point – instead it is fed directly into the data centre as DC – thereby avoiding the normal losses incurred in the conversion from DC->AC->DC for computer equipment. Partnerships with OSISoft and Sentilla ensure that their data centre runs at optimum efficiency.

SAP also rolled out 337 LED lighting systems. These replaced fluorescent lighting tubes and because the replacement LED lights are extremely long-life, as well as low energy, there are savings on maintenance as well as electricity consumption.

Coulomb electric vehicle charging station at SAP HQ in Palo Alto

SAP has placed 16 Coulomb level two electric vehicle charging stations around the car parks in its facility. These will allow employees who purchase electric vehicles to charge their cars free of charge (no pun!) while they are at work. SAP has committed to going guarantor on leases for any employees who plan to purchase electric vehicles. We were told to watch out for a big announcement from SAP in January in the electric vehicle space!

In its entirety, SAP has invested $2.3m in energy efficiency projects at their Palo Alto campus. This will lead to $665,000 savings per annum with a payback in under four years and an annual CO2 emissions reduction of over 807 tons.

This may sound like small potatoes but SAP intends to be both an exemplar and an enabler – so they want to be able to ‘walk the walk, as well as talking the talk’.

One of the points that SAP constantly mention in briefings is that while their CO2 emissions amounted to 425,000 tons for 2009, the CO2 emissions of their customer base, associated with their running SAP software is 100 times that and the total CO2 emissions of their customer base is 100 times that again! Consequently SAP sees itself as potentially having sway over a large portion of the world’s carbon emissions. SAP hopes to be able to use this influence to help its client companies to significantly reduce their emissions – and to use its software to report on those same reductions!

Two questions I forgot to ask SAP on the day were:

  1. if they were getting any rebates from their utility (PG&E) for energy reductions? and
  2. if the car charging stations were being run from the solar panels (and if so, were they also running DC-DC directly)?

My “Green IT – driving efficiency, sustainability and enabling efficient working practices” presentation

Conference organising company iQuest contacted me last year to ask me to deliver a keynote presentation at their Green IT Summit.

The event took place in Dublin yesterday and my keynote talk entitled “Green IT – driving efficiency, sustainability and enabling efficient working practices” is above.

The organisers prudently decided that they didn’t want to take the risk of any of their international speakers not making it to the event because of the ashcloud. This would have left them with a hole in the schedule at the last minute so they contracted the services of OnlineMeetingRooms and three of the presenters were able to present to the audience in Dublin, over an online video connection, without having to travel!

The title I was asked to present on was quite broad and I had 30 minutes to try cover it all so I had to go at quite a clip but the feedback has been extremely positive so it seemed to work out very well.


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.


Beam me up Scotty!

The WWF published a report, funded by HP and Microsoft, about the potential climactic benefits of a greater adoption of videoconferencing technologies. One of the items in the report which caught my eye was the stat that:

substituting 5-30% of current air travel by videoconferencing could avoid 5.59-33.53 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually

The report recommends what it calls ‘digital bridges’ to replace ‘air bridges’ which would otherwise be constructed.

An infrastructure which provided an open access site for every million inhabitants of the world’s urbanised areas would have an estimated $495 million capital cost, and $347 million of annual operating costs (total number of virtual meeting rooms 4620). Much, if not all of which, could be offset by income from those who fly, users of virtual meetings, and other sources. This compares to the estimated $22 billion capital cost of a third Heathrow runway, or the $320 million list price of a new Airbus A380 superjumbo.

Key targets to use the infrastructure would include larger companies with many field activities in different countries; small-medium sized businesses; international Governmental and Non-Governmental organisations; organisers of small-medium sized events; and some distance learning and telemedicine discussions. Countries such as China or India would be especially important, with the aim of many people developing familiarity with videoconferencing before becoming attached to air travel for meetings. ‘Digital bridges’ could therefore supplement, and partially replace, the ‘air bridges’ which would otherwise be constructed.

Personally I don’t think this goes nearly far enough!

I was at a HP briefing last October where HP presented some genuinely impressive internal figures for travel averted using HP’s TelePresence offering (called Halo). I argued at the time (and still believe) that for TelePresence to have a serious impact it needs to be far more ubiquitous – not just (as it currently) islands of hi-def connectivity. HP’s Halo needs to interconnect with Nortel and Cisco’s TelePresence offerrings and vice versa, for a start. I went a step further at the meeting and suggested that for real ubiquity, Halo should be able to interconnect with the likes of Skype video.

HP appear to have been having similar thoughts because they recently announced HP SkyRoom – which, while it doesn’t connect with Skype video afaik, it is a desktop version of TelePresence.

Details are sketchy on SkyRoom as yet, but if we can make hi-def video conferencing and desktop sharing as cheap and easy as making a Skype call, then many of the reasons for having to travel for meetings simply disappear!

Don’t underestimate the benefits of this, not just for companies carbon footprint’s, but also for productivity. I am going to a 3-day conference next month in Orlando, Florida. I am based in Seville, Spain. My travel to and from the conference will take roughly 36 hours – not to mention all the hassles of various airports’ security and then I have to do a week’s work on top of that! For a far more eloquent breakdown of the all of the benefits of TelePresence see Wilson Korol’s excellent post on the Nortel Grassroots blog.

I do believe that desktop hi-def video calls and desktop sharing will become ubiquitous whether enabled by HP or Skype or Apple’s iChat or combinations of clients able to inter-operate seamlessly – there are very few technical barriers to it happening. From there it is a short step to making it a 3-D experience and I will truly be able to say “Beam me up Scotty!” – if you doubt it can be a 3-D experience check out this impressive Cisco video of CEO John Chambers chatting to a full size 3-D Marthin De Beer while Marthin is 14,000 miles away.

[Disclosure: HP and Nortel are GreenMonk clients]


Cisco’s John Chambers talks Green

This is a video of Cisco CEO, John Chambers giving a superb presentation at MIT last year.

In the talk, John talks up the rise of video as a tool for collaboration in the enterprise, mentions some of Cisco’s work in China after the earthquake there, and talks up Smart Grids (“Smart Grids are $billion opportunities”).

42 minutes into the video, in answer to one of questions in the q&a John talks about some of Cisco’s Green initiatives including the Connected Urban Development program.

Well worth taking time out to watch.

via the Alianzo blog.