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SAP Targets Air Travel to Meet 2010 Climate Goal

SAP AG began reporting sustainability data on a quarterly basis earlier this year, giving the company better visibility into its performance and the chance to correct its course in order to meet its goals.

SAP just released its third quarter results Wednesday, revealing that the company will need to limit unnecessary air travel in the last quarter of 2010 -- its busiest time of the year -- in order to meet its annual climate target.

In the third quarter, SAP operations generated 116,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), bringing its total annual emissions to-date to roughly 348,000 metric tonnes CO2e. Its 2010 goal is 460,000 metric tonnes, meaning SAP must generate 112,000 metric tonnes of emissions or less in order for it to meet its goal.

"Q4 has historically been SAP's biggest quarter," said SAP Spokesman Evan Welsh. "We also visit customers on a regular basis, so it certainly poses a challenge to strike the balance between closing deals and reducing our carbon footprint."

Like many software firms, air travel represents the largest culprit across the board, in terms of energy use. The economic recovery and renewed business demand has pushed air travel up higher this year compared to 2009.

Aside from restricting unnecessary air travel in favor of virtual solutions, SAP has decided to give employees access to personal dashboards so they can view their individual emissions. Welsh said the personal dashboards were coming, but couldn't comment on the time frame.

The company's third quarter report also revealed a quarter-over-quarter improvement in building energy use and district heating. "Some of it is clearly energy-related, but we also have better visibility into our energy use," Welsh said, noting the company's green building and retrofit efforts were "beginning to pay off."

SAP is using its own Carbon Impact software to track its performance in real-time and report results quarterly, allowing for several "course corrections" to ensure it meets its environmental targets.

"Traditionally you would be able to look back on yearly basis to see what you did," Welsh said, "but you couldn't correct course midway through the year."

The quarterly results are unaudited and do not reflect acquisitions that closed in 2010.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user eye2eye.

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