The organizing principles of our CSR and Eco Responsibility efforts are Innovate, Act, and Share. Most people get Innovate and Act (responsible products and services, and responsible operation of our extended business), but Share is always tougher to explain. Sun’s got a rich history of open standards, open source and transparency, but many people, especially outside of tech, don’t understand what these really are and why Sun would bother.
Hopefully that will get easier now, as last week we announced OpenEco.org, a site to help organizations of all kinds measure and lower their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We originally built the core of the tool to help measure and track our own GHG emissions, and realized that everyone else must be facing the same challenges we were. The scavenger hunt of finding the underlying data is specific to each company, but the calculations and the tables of common data they use aren’t, nor is the data management that you need to do to update each month and track your progress versus your goals. So we brought in Gil Friend from Natural Logic to help generalize what we’d done in a way that would scale and apply appropriately to others (that’s his forte), and created OpenEco.org to give everyone a much easier way to get going.
But wait, there’s more. If you’ve measured your GHG emissions, how do you think you are doing versus other companies in your area? What’s your GHG per office employee? You don’t know, because as everyone cobbles together or buys a custom tool, there’s no way to get your data in the same place and format as other organizations in order to compare them. But OpenEco can do that, since it normalizes all of the data and has built-in tools for comparing.
Finally, the cost. It’s free, with one caveat: you have to be willing to let others compare against your data. You don’t have to have your name attached to the data (it can be anonymous), but the data has to be visible for others to use.
OpenEco.org isn’t a complete GHG tool yet, but it covers buildings of all kinds, and other sources will be added quickly by Sun and the community.
It wasn’t an accident that we timed our announcement of OpenEco to coincide with the CDP5 Launch Event last week. The core principles of measurement and transparency run through both efforts, and it seemed like a natural to us. Although 2,400 companies reported last week, I suspect many are in the state we were last year, starting to be weighed down by our hand grown tools and mountains of accumulated data. Hopefully OpenEco will lend a hand.
While response has been great, the most common question I’ve gotten is why Sun bothered to do this. There’s really three reasons. First, we believe that climate change is a common problem, so we need shared solutions. Second, we believe in communities. There’s upside such as the ability to compare data, and also a big hand in the ongoing upkeep and evolution of the tools. Finally, its one more thing we can use to change our discussion with organizations we want to sell to. As more companies decide that its time to race our climate challenges, hopefully OpenEco will give them a reason to think of Sun, which will give us a chance to show them how we can help them green their datacenters in addition to measuring their GHG emissions.
Please – check out OpenEco, join the community and help us all move forward!