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The Global Reporting Initiative, their new CEO, Social, Mobile and Big Data

Michael Meehan - GRI new Chief Executive

We were delighted to hear this week that friend of GreenMonk’s for many years now, Michael Meehan was recently appointed as CEO of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

The GRI is a non-profit organisation that produces one of the world’s most prevalent framework’s for sustainability reporting. One of the GRI’s main aims is to make sustainability reporting by all organisations as routine as, and comparable to, financial reporting.

Michael takes over the GRI at an interesting time. As we reported here on GreenMonk recently, the interest in sustainability reporting is on the rise globally

carbon scores are now not only showing up at board level, but are also being reported to insurance companies, and are appearing on Bloomberg and Google Finance. He put this down to a shift away from the traditional regulation led reporting, to a situation now where organisations are responding to pressure from investors, as well as a requirement to manage shareholder risk.

In other words the drivers for sustainability reporting now are the insurance companies, and Wall Street. Organisations are realising that buildings collapsing in Bangladesh can have an adverse effect on their brand, and ultimately their bottom line.

On a call to Michael earlier this week to congratulate him on his new role, he mentioned that while around 6,000 organisations currently report to the GRI, his aim is to increase that number to 25,000 organisations.

To do that, at the very least, the GRI needs to embrace social, mobile, and Big Data.

The GRI has traditionally operated below the radar, but in order to grow the GRI, never mind growing it to 25,000 reporting organisations, working quietly is not sustainable. It has to become more aggressive with outbound communications – social in particular. While the GRI has a Twitter account with over 15,000 followers, there’s no mention of the account anywhere on the GRI’s website. Worse again, the organisation’s Facebook page is one automatically generated by Facebook based on Facebook users posts and interests (!), and the organisation’s Youtube channel was similarly generated automatically by YouTube’s video discovery system.

On the mobile front, the organisation’s website is not mobile aware. Nor does it have any mobile apps in the main app stores. In a time when more and more web browsing is going mobile, the GRI urgently needs to formulate a mobile strategy for itself.

And finally, on the Big Data front, in our conversation Michael expressed a definite interest in making the GRI’s terabytes of organisational information available as a platform for developers. The data is a huge repository of information going back over years. The ability to build analytics applications on top of this would yield massive benefits, one has to think.

Fortunately for the GRI, Michael is a serial entrepreneur with a history of successful exits in the sustainability space. If anyone can modernise the GRI, he can. We wish him all the best in his new role.

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Friday Green Numbers round-up for Jan 28th 2011

Green Numbers

And here is a round-up of this week’s Green numbers…

  1. 50% rise in companies using software to monitor sustainability performance, says new survey

    The proportion of companies that use software to monitor their sustainability performance increased by 50 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the results of a new international survey released today, Thursday 27 January 2011, by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

    Experts from GRI say this means that guidance for people producing sustainability reports should be kept up to date with emerging trends in software use and digital reporting.

  2. Efficiency could cut world energy use over 70 per cent

    Simple changes like installing better building insulation could cut the world’s energy demands by three-quarters, according to a new study.

    Discussions about reducing greenhouse gas emissions usually concentrate on cleaner ways of generating energy: that’s because they promise that we can lower emissions without having to change our energy-hungry ways. But whereas new generation techniques take years to come on stream, efficiency can be improved today, with existing technologies and know-how.

  3. AZ Republicans and Democrats Agree, Energy Efficiency Saves Billions

    Much has been made in recent weeks of the stark political controversies that haunt Arizona politics. There, intense debates over immigration, over healthcare, over a host of issues, have led to a growing sense that Arizona?s politics have left the mainstream behind.

    But there is another Arizona, an Arizona of bipartisan unanimity and progress hidden beneath the saddening headlines of late. That hidden story of Arizona reveals a state that is leading the country down the new and much-needed road to energy efficiency, with standards that are among the most ambitious in the nation. It is a story that has been lost. But it is a story that Arizonans of all political stripes deserved to be celebrated for and a story the rest of us need to hear.

  4. Dow Moves to Make Nature Part of the Bottom Line

    Dow Chemical and the Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced a partnership on January 25 during a press conference at the Detroit Economic Club to develop tools and demonstrate models for valuing nature in business. Dow committed $10 million over the next five years to the collaboration with TNC. Jennifer Molnar, manager of TNC?s Analysis Team, called the partnership a ?breakthrough.?

    The partnership will use scientific models, maps, and analysis for biodiversity and ?ecosystem services?, a Dow press release states, and apply them to the company?s business decisions. The partnership will also ?inform Dow on setting new policies and approaches in the areas of land and water management, siting considerations, the benefits of natural resources on Dow lands and waterways, and more explicit management of biodiversity.?

  5. GM takes $7 million stake in battery startup Envia

    General Motors Co has invested $7 million in Envia Systems, a California-based start-up that has been developing more powerful and cheaper batteries for electric vehicles.

    Newark, California-based Envia has developed cathode technology for lithium-ion batteries that it says will make them both cheaper and more powerful.

    GM said Wednesday it also reached a separate licensing agreement to use the Envia cathode technology in future electric vehicles.

  6. What I Learned in Two Years of Running GridWise Alliance

    As I take my leave as president of the GridWise Alliance, I feel pride in our accomplishments and gratitude for having been involved in a period of enormous growth in the industry and organization. Alliance membership grew during my tenure from 70 to 150 members. These new members included stakeholder groups like the automotive and buildings sector that could join forces with the existing ICT, telecom, and manufacturing components and the utility and system operator member base.

    We started building relationships with consumer groups and were founding members of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, bringing together regulators, consumer advocates, and industry leaders.

  7. EnerNOC Acquires M2M Communications and hundreds of megawatts of demand response capacity

    EnerNOC, Inc., a provider of energy management applications, has acquired M2M Communications, a provider of wireless technology solutions for energy management and demand response.

    According to EnerNOC, its solutions reduce real-time demand for electricity, increase energy efficiency, improve energy supply transparency in competitive markets, and mitigate emissions. Some of the energy management applications offered by EnerNOC includes DemandSMART for comprehensive demand response, EfficiencySMART for data-driven energy efficiency, SupplySMART for energy price and risk management, and CarbonSMART for enterprise carbon management.

    By acquiring M2M Communications, EnerNOC plans to expand its portfolio of automated resources, thereby augmenting third-party automated demand response.

  8. SAP reduces 2010 Greenhouse Gas Emissions despite double-digit revenue growth

    SAP today announced its preliminary report of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2010. The company?s worldwide GHG emissions for 2010 totaled 430 kilotons, a four percent decrease from the 450 kiloton level of 2009. In its third year of consecutive reductions, SAP has cut GHG emissions by 24 percent from its peak levels in 2007, putting the company well on track to achieve its target of reducing emissions to 2000 levels by 2020.

    Using its own software to measure, report and reduce its carbon footprint, SAP can attribute the emissions decrease to a variety of efforts and investments in energy and carbon efficiency projects. Contributing factors to the company?s footprint reduction also include changes in employees? commuting practices and the purchase of renewable energy.

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Photo credit house of bamboo

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SAP’s Sustainability Performance Management software launched

SAP BusinessObjects Sustainability Performance Management

I wrote a piece on SAP’s new Sustainability Performance Management (SPM) tool a few weeks back. At time of writing it was very much in the realms of speculation as the product was, as yet, unreleased.

Last Thursday, Dec 10th, SAP announced the release of the software and having been given a preview of the software the previous day by SAPs Charles Zedlewski, I thought it time to circle back with an update on my previous speculations.

It turns out that I jumped the gun a bit when I posited that:

SAP have taken the next logical step with their Sustainability report. They have productised it!

The current version of the SPM will not output a sustainability report similar to SAP’s hugely innovative one of earlier this year although executives I talked to would not rule out that coming in future versions.

What the SPM will do for organisations is reduce the amount of time spent tracking down, collating data and creating reports. It can automatically collect KPI data across all sustainability dimensions (economic, social and environmental) from a variety of sources, so customers can move beyond manual data collection and spreadsheet-based recording.

The library of nearly 400 KPI’s includes a variety of sustainability metrics, including those based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard as well as the Walmart sustainability index. If you require customisation (and what organisation doesn’t?) building your own custom KPIs or editing the installed ones is quite straightforward.

The data can be pulled from existing SAP apps within the organisation, it can integrate with 3rd party systems or information can be entered manually and then quickly reported either internally or externally. Audit trail functionality helps ensure integrity and transparency of the data.

Two further things I would like to see from this application are:
1. The ability to output at the touch of a button a Sustainability Report similar to SAP’s recent one and
2. An on-demand option (on-demand is SAP for SaaS!) – an on-demand version would ensure that organisations are always using a version which is abreast of the latest green regulations

Having said that, this is a very solid looking v1 with an intuitive UI and a very comprehensive back-end.

I have a call with SAS this afternoon to learn more about their SAS for Sustainability Management product – it will be interesting to see how it stacks up beside SAP’s SPM.

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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.

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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 šŸ™ 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 ā€œproduce little added value.ā€

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