Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sustain4 offers a fast environmental performance management solution – but is it enough?

Mid-market ERP supplier Unit4 Business Software has announces Sustain4, which it describes as ‘the fastest and most reliable Environmental Performance Management solution for business’.

The software was developed in partnership with environmental impact specialists Trucost and it makes use of Trucost’s database and model to assess and benchmark an organisation’s environmental impacts based on readily available financial and business data. Using this basic information about a business – industry sector, turnover, geography, operations, employees etc. – it provides an environmental impact assessment based on similar businesses in its database.  Sustain4 users can generate an initial ‘Skyline’ report immediately with a clear quantitative understanding of their organisation’s impact.




Sustain4 apparently works across more than 700 areas of environmental impact, from greenhouse gas production to water usage, based on assessments from thousands of organisations across 464 industries. Users can benchmark themselves against other organisations as well as capture, analyse and track their ongoing performance across their entire supply chain.

UNIT4 apparently has the exclusive rights to provide this data in the UK local government, higher and further education sectors (it has a strong local government focus in the UK). The company has also developed a service offering to accompany Sustain4, supporting customers in developing and implementing environmental or CSR strategies.

Following an initial UK launch, UNIT4 plans to launch and market the solution around the world.


This sounds like a useful solution for companies and organisations that want pointers to the best place to start to address energy use and emissions, but don’t want to spend too long on the assessment.  I have reservations about its usefulness in the longer term, though. Companies and organisations are different, so the result can only be approximate, not ideal for reporting emissions under regulatory or voluntary schemes.  It also means that there is no accurate measure, specific to the company, from which to assess any gains from environmental initiatives.

Environmental impact assessments are only going to get more precise and detailed, so companies will quickly be looking for a solution that gives an accurate, individual measure that can be updated over time.  A more specialised green ICT solution may be the best answer for many, although cost will clearly be an issue for smaller companies that, as yet, don’t need to be that precise.

© The Green IT Review

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