Where is Adobe’s commitment to Sustainability?


Photo credit midiman

I was extremely lucky to be given a tour of Adobe’s triple platinum LEED certified HQ in Palo Alto last year. I video’d highlights of the tour and posted them here. At the time I was extremely impressed with Adobe’s sustainability initiatives.

However, since then I have been more and more wondering if the building is a one-off and if Adobe has any significant commitment to Sustainability.

Why do I say this?

  1. Adobe’s 2009 CSR report, while slightly better than its 2008 report, it is still a triumph of style over content. There is no adherence to GRI reporting standards, no external audit and no mention of targets set or previous targets reached
  2. No-where on the Adobe site or in its CSR reports (that I could find) does it mention who in the organisation has responsibility for Sustainability. If no-one has overall responsibility for it, then we shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t get done
  3. Adobe’s LiveCycle Enterprise Suite gets a passing mention in the 2009 CSR report when it says

    The United States Government Printing Office used Adobe? LiveCycle? and Adobe Acrobat? to generate, authenticate, and disseminate documents electronically, saving more than 20 tons of paper and $1 million over five years.

    Where are the white papers or case studies to back this up? Surely others are using LiveCycle and also saving paper. Why aren’t we hearing more about them? Similarly for Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro, and

  4. A more trivial example, but as I reported a few weeks back, Adobe charge more for downloadable, soft copies of their software, than they do for physical shipped product (which includes carbon associated with media, packaging and transportation)! This wouldn’t be allowed to happen in a company with any focus whatsoever on Sustainability. Software companies should be actively pushing customers to downloadable versions of their products

So, if a company of Adobe’s size and success can get away with such a passing regard for sustainability – are companies who take corporate responsibility seriously like SAP, BT and IBM wasting their time and energy?

You should follow me on twitter here.


Software cheaper in physical form than in soft copy?

Tower, this is bravo, echo, echo...

I enjoy photography. I’m not very good at it but I have lots of fun trying new things with my camera all the time (see above my shot of a bee flying between flowers, for example).

I use Adobe’s excellent Lightroom 3 Beta to manage my photos and to upload them to Flickr where I share them under a Creative Commons license.

Today when I went to purchase a copy of Lightroom I discovered that the cost to buy it for download was ?301.29 whereas to obtain the physical copy (including shipping) was only ?288.84!*

I asked on Twitter how was it possible that the physical copy was cheaper than the downloadable version and Adobe’s Robin Charney replied saying

it’s to do with the VAT rate in Ireland which is where our online store is based

I don’t get that – how is the VAT rate higher for goods which are downloaded, as opposed to physical ones (which have to be burned to disk, boxed and shipped)?

If this is the result of some strange Irish tax law discriminating against non-physical goods, then I doubt Adobe are the only e-tailer suffering from it. Has anyone else noticed purchasing goods online is cheaper for the physical then the soft copies?

*Note these prices were for the Spanish Adobe store. I checked the Irish and UK sites and the physical copies are cheaper there too. Frank Koehntopp informed me via Twitter that this also holds true for Germany, whereas Ann Petteroe said that

In Norway download is cheaper (Flex/LightRoom9 because the download version is without VAT apparently

I’d love to hear more stories like this so we can track down the reasons why and try to make sure that in all cases the downloadable copy is cheaper than the physical one.


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.

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.

You should follow me on twitter here.


Tour of Adobe’s triple Platinum LEED certified HQ

LEED (short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), that provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.

In 2006 Adobe’s HQ in San Jose became the world’s first commercial enterprise to achieve a total of three Platinum certifications under the LEED program – a hugely impressive achievement.

I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the facility when I was there recently – some notable stats – in working towards LEED certification Adobe:
– reduced electricity use by 35%
– natural gas by 41%
– domestic water use by 22%
– irrigation water use by 76%

Also, Adobe is now recycling or composting up to 95% of solid waste.

One of the great things about the LEED certification is that it has an ongoing re-certification element (Adobe has chosen to be audited every 3 years) and there is a constant process of improvement.


Today’s Energy & Sustainability show had a Water theme

Today’s GreenMonk Energy & Sustainability Shaw had 41 live viewers and plenty of interaction with the viewers.

The show is every Monday 4:30pm CET, 3:30pm GMT – if you haven’t participated in the live show, please do – you can help make it better and drive the direction!

Here is the chat stream from today’s show (including a quick chat at the end about an idea I have to move the show to a virtual word to increase the ability for people to interact):

04:32 TomRaftery : Can you hear me now?
04:32 mikeTheBee : reloading
04:33 mikeTheBee : still ‘Off Air’
04:33 TomRaftery : Anyone hear me?
04:33 watching-4232 : not me
04:33 Suki_Fuller : No
04:33 ustreamer-85861 : “Off air”
04:33 TomRaftery : Ok, I’ll log out & back in – two secs
04:33 mikeTheBee : I see that chat
04:33 watching-4232 : BTW, I got my iPhone app running, how can I join this stream?
04:34 mikeTheBee : Give it a go
04:34 TomRaftery : Logging back in
04:34 mikeTheBee : Now says found
04:34 TomRaftery : Apologies about this
04:34 mikeTheBee : On Air
04:34 mikeTheBee : no pic yet
04:34 mikeTheBee : Off Air
04:35 mikeTheBee : On Air ….. Off AIr
04:35 mikeTheBee : 11 in Chat
04:35 TomRaftery : Anyone hear me now
04:35 mikeTheBee : Voila
04:35 verowhite : Hi everyone
04:35 mikeTheBee : pic no sound
04:35 mikeTheBee : Sound
04:36 Suki_Fuller : I see you
04:36 Suki_Fuller : Sound
04:36 Suki_Fuller : Hey Tom
04:36 mikeTheBee : I have sound and vision
04:36 ustreamer-85861 : pic + sound here, just fine
04:36 verowhite : Hear you and see you Tom
04:36 mikeTheBee : 15 viewers
04:36 TomRaftery :
04:38 monkchips : talking about water today huh?
04:38 Suki_Fuller : yeapper
04:39 verowhite : The sound is a little bit low, Tom
04:39 TomRaftery : video working?
04:39 verowhite : Image perfect, though
04:39 mikeTheBee : No sound or v.low volume
04:39 monkchips : video working great
04:39 monkchips : but i seem to be having sound problems too
04:39 verowhite : I think we’re hearing the output of your headphones
04:39 ustreamer-85861 : video working (sound is probably only coming via your headset mic?)
04:41 TomRaftery :
04:41 mikeTheBee : 14 viewers
04:41 Suki_Fuller : holy cow
04:41 Suki_Fuller : 2000x
04:41 verowhite : I heard about a campaign going on against bottledwater
04:42 verowhite : Didn’t know the numbers were that crazy, though
04:43 TomRaftery :
04:43 mikeTheBee : 16 viewers
04:44 TomRaftery :
04:44 mikeTheBee : It forms an ‘Island’ I believe
04:47 cgarvey : same audio problem
04:47 monkchips : LOVING the way the show is evolving though.
04:47 cgarvey : (hearing your PC speakers via your mic, i think)
04:48 verowhite : yup, cgarvey, I would say he has to change the output from his mic to the osx playback
04:48 TomRaftery :
04:49 verowhite : Hey! I’m from Asturias 🙂
04:49 verowhite : Gijon is in Asturias!
04:50 verowhite : Didn’t expect Asturias to be any sci-fish (no pun intended) 😉
04:50 TomRaftery :
04:51 verowhite : Is an amazing place, if you have the change to visiti, BTW
04:51 cgarvey : excellent pun
04:52 cgarvey : excellent video, surreal!
04:52 mikeTheBee : 17 Viewers
04:52 verowhite : omg
04:52 monkchips : my bloody windows machine isn’t playing flash audio for some reason
04:53 monkchips : 🙁
04:53 TomRaftery :
04:54 verowhite : I used to live in Aviles, near Gijon. My city was REALLY polluted. I can see why they’re investigating there
04:54 Suki_Fuller : Oh my that robotic fish video is wicked cool
04:55 mikeTheBee : 16 Viewers
04:55 mikeTheBee : 18 viewers
04:59 mikeTheBee : 17 Viewers
04:59 TomRaftery :
05:00 cgarvey : one quick Q
05:01 cgarvey : SmartBay data .. is it online somewhere, or just research still
05:01 cgarvey : ok, that’s good enough for me, cheers!
05:02 TomRaftery : [email protected]
05:02 cgarvey : cheers Tom .. love the format of this, by the way
05:02 mikeTheBee : Cheers Tom. cheers all.
05:02 verowhite : Nice show, Tom. Thanks
05:02 Suki_Fuller : Thank you – I love the format and I as always learned new things
05:02 TomRaftery : Thanks a million everyone for joining in
05:02 TomRaftery : and making it a great show
05:03 Suki_Fuller : Now going to make all my friends drink tap water
05:03 TomRaftery : Superb
05:03 TomRaftery : btw, thinking of running the show out of Second Life
05:03 TomRaftery : That would allow for more interactivity
05:03 mikeTheBee : SL or ReactionGrid?
05:03 TomRaftery : Could also pipe back into Ustream
05:04 TomRaftery : for those with no SL client
05:04 mikeTheBee : I’m not on SL but am on homcamp
05:04 TomRaftery : I’m agnostic about SL or ReactionGrid tbh Mike
05:04 mikeTheBee : I’m using Hippo
05:04 verowhite : I tried SL on my mac in the past
05:04 verowhite : not a big fan
05:04 TomRaftery : It depends on which is easier to pipe back to Ustream
05:05 mikeTheBee :
05:05 verowhite : but if you are still streming it here, may work, who know 🙂
05:05 TomRaftery : Yup, I’m on the HoeCamp one as well
05:05 mikeTheBee : Intersted in the idea, yes, details l8r
05:05 TomRaftery : oops!
05:05 Suki_Fuller : I’d rather here but whatever you decide
05:05 TomRaftery : HomeCamp that was supposed to be!
05:05 Suki_Fuller : I hope so.
05:05 cgarvey : lol, that was an impressive typo
05:06 TomRaftery : LOL
05:06 verowhite : lol
05:06 mikeTheBee : Its still Green 🙂
05:06 TomRaftery : Yup – I’m interested in getting people more involved
05:06 Suki_Fuller : That roll your own video very nice and short
05:06 mikeTheBee : Cheers Ctach you l8r
05:06 TomRaftery : If you can come to a venue in SL
05:06 TomRaftery : And participate that way, it may feel more real
05:07 TomRaftery : more like you are participating
05:07 verowhite : bye Mike, thanks for helping me earlier
05:07 cgarvey : I’m off to read about SmartBay .. cheers for the show Tom


Adobe Livecycle streamlines LEED certification process

LEED Registration pdf

Speaking of LEED certified buildings, I found a great site yesterday which outlines how the LEED certification process has been streamlined using Adobe software.

On their site carahsoft link to a whitepaper (pdf warning!) which goes into detail on how the Adobe Livecycle software made the LEED certification process vastly more efficient.

From the whitepaper:

Traditionally, applying for LEED certification has been time-consuming and paper-intensive. For example, a manager seeking certification for a new or existing structure would have to complete a complex spreadsheet with up to 69 tabs and submit thousands of pages of supporting documentation for various building components, such as heating systems, landscaping, and interior finishes. After receiving an application, USGBC copied the materials to share across a review team made up of staff and third-party experts. The entire process—from the initial submittal of materials to achieving LEED certification—could take years.

Because of the perceived difficulty in achieving certification, many organizations did not apply. To address the problem and streamline its internal operations, USGBC adopted Adobe LiveCycle server software….

Ultimately, USGBC used Adobe LiveCycle software to create and deploy more than 400 two-page intelligent Adobe PDF forms that building-project teams can download from USGBC’s website….

After applicants have completed the Adobe PDF forms, they can attach supporting documentation—such as landscaping plans, details about construction materials and interior finishes, and other information—to the application as Adobe PDF files or in native file formats from programs such as AutoCAD®, Pro/E, and Microsoft Office. All the materials are uploaded to USGBC’s online workspace, LEED Online….

Because USGBC linked the submitted Adobe PDF forms with SAP, data is automatically captured in SAP as application forms are received, eliminating the need for USGBC staff to manually key application data into back-end systems. The enhanced process helps reduce costs and improve the accuracy of data, and it also makes it easier for USGBC to track and report green-building trends….

Chris Smith, USGBC’s Chief Operating Office said:

We estimate that the automated workflows supported by Adobe solutions will accelerate the process of submitting LEED application forms by as much as 50%

while, Joseph Diianni, director of technology for USGBC said:

Best of all, we believe the new solution will encourage even more organizations to seek LEED certification

So Adobe not only is the world’s first commercial enterprise to achieve a total of three Platinum certifications under the LEED program, but its software now makes it easier for others to be certified too?

Good job Adobe!


LEED certified buildings on the rise!

Adobe headquarters in San Jose received three platinum LEED ratings

Photo credit kqedquest

According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC) buildings account for 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States, buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S and CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector over the next 25 years.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a Green building rating system which has been deveoped to provide a suite of standards for the design, construction and operation of high performance Green buildings.

According to the the LEED Wikipedia entry:

LEED certified buildings have healthier work and living environments, which contributes to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

According to the USGBC January Green building by the numbers report (.doc warning):

By 2009, 82% of corporate America is expected to be greening at least 16% of their real estate portfolios; of these corporations, 18% will be greening more than 60% of their real estate portfolios

The green building products market is projected to be worth $30-$40 billion annually by 2010

With that in mind it was great to see the report that AMD’s Lone Star campus in Texas has achieved a gold LEED certification. Thanks to David Berlind for tipping me off on this.

According to the release this is the largest gold certified LEED commercial building in Texas and some of the sustainable design elements include:

  • Energy Use: Powered 100% by Austin Energy’s GreenChoice® electricity, which comes from clean, renewable energy sources such as wind power
  • Rainwater collection: Designed with a 1.2 million gallon capacity rainwater collection system, which is designed to provide water for the buildings’ cooling towers and irrigation
  • Construction materials: Incorporated more than 20% of construction materials based on recycled content, and with more than 20% of locally sourced construction materials
  • 100% Native Landscaping: AMD partnered with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to salvage the native trees, shrubs and grasses within the footprint of the campus, and replant them following construction.

AMD joins other well known tech companies who have rolled large LEED building projects like Adobe (Platinum) and Symantec (Gold).

To paraphrase Fr Ted – “Up with this kind of thing!!!