SAP’s Green Commitment – building and software, strategic sale to Autodesk

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an article about SAP America’s new green building.

Tech company SAP is living the green life

By Diane Mastrull

Inquirer Staff Writer

SAP America is not in the building business. Yet lately, the major buzz about the provider of information-technology systems has centered on its new headquarters in Newtown Square.

Company officials are not offended.

SAP's four-story, 218,000-square-foot monument to energy efficiency and planet protection is turning out to be a credibility booster. And that was part of the plan.

The 35-year-old company is expanding its line of software products designed to help companies go green. Erecting an office that is one of the greenest in the region was intended to demonstrate SAP's commitment to "walk the talk," said Bill McDermott, president of global field operations.

SAP is going for Platinum LEED.

Since opening in May, the SAP headquarters has picked up awards from environmental, architecture, and construction groups. Whether it qualifies for the highest level of sustainability certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program - platinum - is not yet known.

Why is SAP going green?

In large part, the sustainability trend is fueled by practicality. Stricter environmental regulations on emissions of greenhouse gases, for instance, are expected for business, especially big industry.

The recession and escalating energy prices have been a prod, too - inspiring a worldwide corporate search for budget-trimming options, including switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs and replacing face-to-face meetings with videoconferencing.

Public relations is also a driver, as shareholders and customers are paying more attention to the environmental effect of a company's pursuit of profits, said Brenda Hustis Gotanda, a partner at the Bala Cynwyd law firm of Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox L.L.P. and a specialist in sustainability.

"How they are judged by the public" on sustainability is "a really big issue" to a growing number of companies, Gotanda said.

Autodesk is integrated in the story.

It all matters to Emma Stewart, even though she is 2,500 miles away in San Francisco. She is a sustainability leader at Autodesk Inc., a company that specializes in design software for the built environment, from bridges and data centers to airplanes and washing machines.

Her company wants not only to help its customers do their work in a more sustainable way, but to set an example of sustainability. SAP's commitment to those dual objectives helped convince her that it was a good fit for Autodesk, which is now using SAP's Carbon Impact, a system that helps companies determine their total carbon output.

In selecting a business partner, "I gauge not only what a company tells me [about its sustainability commitment]," Stewart said, "but what they're doing."

More and more there is strategic alliance between companies to help companies go green.  SAP and Autodesk are having discussions.

Who are your strategic green partners?