Pathway To Corporate Sustainability: A Profile Of SAP, Global Business Software Provider


Outer-hallway meeting room, with privacy glass, allowing natural light penetration.
SAP, USA, newly constructed LEED "Platinum" headquarters building.

I recently had a chance to speak with representatives of the global business software company SAP, as well as get a tour of the firm's nearly completed LEED Platinum US Headquarters building in Newtown Square Pennsylvania. The result, written as a composite interview, is a profile of SAP's global sustainability strategy, punctuated with a photographic tour of the new building.

There was a discussion of sustainability strategy with Scott Bolick, Vice President, SAP Sustainability, in Palo Alto, CA, USA; a tour and talk with Brian Barrett, building Manager, SAP, Newtown Square; and, finally a discussion with Bill McDermott, President of Global Field Operations, SAP AG, and member of the SAP Executive Board, and other members of his staff. Shall we begin?
The warmth of wood supports appearance as well as weight.

Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, SAP provides business software designed to help companies clearly understand all aspects of their business. SAP solutions can streamline and improve financial, operational, and customer-facing business processes.

At the end of 2008, SAP had:
• More than 51,000 employees in over 50 countries developing, marketing, and selling applications and services
• 82,000 customers of all sizes across 25 industries and in over 120 countries
• Listings on the Frankfurt and New York stock exchanges


Triple-glazed windows all around and on top.
Customers and supply chains: the critical linkage for enterprise systems.
Driven by the need to manage around sustainability issues, SAP's customers see the need for enterprise-level help with regulatory compliance and record keeping on environmental health and safety topics like carbon emissions (carbon registries), corporate social responsibility, and products safety.


Remnant American Chestnut trees left on site, as seen from green roof deck.

Managing supply-chain information, whether to capture carbon footprint information or resource availability, is a challenge shared by businesses of all types. SAP's vision is to be the preferred supplier of enterprise software that helps customers track the 'stuff that goes into the thing,' that gets made into a component, that gets distributed all over the world; then bought and assembled, with other components, to make the many products you, the final consumer, use. It's complex. As is the software. As is sutainability.


Custom milled hand railings throughout, produced from American Chestnut trees removed from the building footprint area.
Strategic leadership around the issues of sustainable development.
SAP's Executive Board has made sustainable business development a priority. For SAP's operations, President of Global Field Operations and Executive Board member Bill McDermott believes strongly that "the best way to respond to customer concerns world is to lead by example." Hence, SAP has constructed a LEED Platinum-level headquarters site in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA. Bill also proudly points out that "SAP enterprise solutions track material flows for customers all over the world... We have 82,000 customers that account for 15-20% of the world's global emissions. Our sustainability software solutions, therefore, can have a substantial impact towards reducing global emissions."


Work station "neighborhood" with balance of natural and fluorescent lighting.

In May, SAP issued its second Sustainability Report, an online, interactive format in which SAP reported that it reduced its total corporate carbon footprint by 6.7 percent in 2008 compared to 2007. SAP invites its customers, partners and other stakeholders to view and provide input about its sustainability efforts.


Automatic light-balancing window louvers.

The photos you see are of a building undergoing the final construction and commissioning steps. Finishing 'green touches' such as landscape planting, vines on utility screen-walls, and covered walkways encouraging foot traffic were not yet visible.


Motion sensing power receptacles at interior work stations.
Beyong the building envelope: renewable energy certificates.
SAP recently purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to match 25% of electricity usage in the new LEED Platinum building. They also match 75% of electricity usage for an existing; non-LEED certified building on the same US headquarters campus.


Halls and office spaces oriented on north-south axis to allow natural light entry.

The building is located on pre-existing multi-tenant (250-acre) office campus, surrounded by mixed residential and commercial development. SAP's portion of the campus houses approximately 2,000 full-time employees, and training facilities for customers and support consultants.


Two of the several, massive ice storage vessels located in the building's basement, used to shift "cooling" function of the HVAC system to off-peak periods.
More than just a building project.
SAPs' Platinum LEED office project will house people who formerly worked in scattered buildings on campus, parking at ground-level. The new building includes a multistory parking garage that introduces something else seldom found on a typical suburban office setting: a multi-story parking garage that minimizes the amount of green space paved and net reduces storm-water runoff.


"Green roof", as seen from the executive suite.

The combined effect is of a big-city style office in a rural park-like setting.


Perimeter open-space preserve lands, framed by edge railing on 'green roof'.

Although full time employees commute principally by auto - there are no bike or hike trail link ups yet and the nearest train station is miles away - the numerous on-campus training sessions for customers from all around the world are commonly transported to and from by shuttle and are increasingly being supplemented by virtual training modules.

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