SAP Getting Serious About Clean Technology


Multinational enterprise software leader SAP is getting serious about clean technology and reducing carbon emissions–both inside and outside the organization. Recent moves are a sign that SAP isn’t merely “talking the talk,” but “walking the walk” when it comes to reducing the negative environmental impact of its business.
On May 1, SAP announced details of the expansion of its campus in Philadelphia’s Newton Square. Designed by FXFOWLE Architects, the recently completed 200,000 square foot building’s sustainable design features include a roof planted with grass and other native plants, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and toilets that use rainwater.
SAP management apparently also sees clean information systems technology as a promising market segment. Just yesterday, the company announced that it was looking to acquire Clear Standards, Inc., a privately-held developer of a “Sustainability 2.0” software-as-as-service (SaaS) information systems platform that enables companies to gather data, analyze, manage and report on the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of their operations.
*Image Courtesy of SAP Americas/FXFOWLE

Green Design in Building
There are fewer than 125 buildings in the US designed and built to meet the sustainable design requirements set by the U.S. Green Building Council in its “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) Platinum standard. Fewer than 120 have been awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Earn the Energy Star” rating, which recognizes energy efficient architecture and engineering in new buildings.
The new building at SAP’s 110-acre Newton Square campus is expected to qualify for the former and has already been awarded the latter. Currently under review by the USGBC, SAP expects the building will pass review and qualify for the LEED Platinum standard by 2010.
Reducing water use was one aspect of sustainable design architects FXFOWLE focused on. Rainwater from the green roof and other areas is collected in a 50,000-gallon cistern, which supplies water for landscape irrigation as well as flushing toilets. Low-flow bathroom fixtures add to the water conservation features. SAP expects to save more than 1 million gallons of water as a result.
Geothermal Loop, Daylight Harvesting, Sustainable Forestry
In addition to making use of geothermal wells and pumps for heating and cooling, energy efficiency features of the new building include a “daylight harvesting” system in which sensors are used to dim lighting levels and raise or lower window shades based on the amount of sunlight coming through triple-glazed exterior walls.
A “hybrid” air conditioning system produces ice during overnight hours when energy demand and electric rates are lowest. Chilled water from the melting ice is used to cool the building during the heat of the day.
Taken together, these and other energy efficiency features are projected to reduce the building’s energy usage by as much as 49 percent compared to conventional buildings, thereby helping SAP meets its recently announced carbon and emissions reduction targets. Management forecasts that all the additional costs will be paid back within 7 to 10 years.
Structurally, the building’s frame uses wood bought locally from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Acquiring Clear Standards
SAP management also sees promise in helping its customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and the negative environmental impacts of their operations.
Formed in 2007, Clear Standards has quickly blazed a trail in the still emerging clean technology IT systems space. Of its announced intention to acquire Clear Standards, SAP Co-CEO Leo Apotheker said, “It is essential that organizations gain actionable insight into their carbon emissions, water consumption, energy use and other environmental factors so they can lower their environmental impact.
“Having this ability also correlates to an organization’s efficiency and competitiveness. With the acquisition of Clear Standards, we will accelerate our vision to deliver a complete set of solutions to enable end-to-end sustainable businesses. We welcome the Clear Standards team to SAP.”
Added Clear Standards’ chairman and CEO Betsy Atkins, “Clear Standards was established with the vision to help global organizations manage their operations with the added dimension of sustainability as a true driver of growth and innovation. Our team is excited to contribute to the next generation of SAP sustainability solutions. By joining SAP we expect to reach many more organizations needing to better manage their environmental impact and profitability.”

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

Leave a Reply