It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green

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I couldn’t help but think about the old Kermit the frog tune while chatting with Jennifer Pollard (Product Manager) and Neil Huizenga (Software Developer) last week about the new Environmental Sustainability Dashboard for Dynamics AX.  While many organizations are doing everything possible to reduce their carbon footprint and improve the efficiency of the resources that they do use, it is often difficult to measure progress.  With the recent economic downturn and pressures to report emission, the environmental sustainability dashboard helps organizations to run their business more efficiently as well as fund ongoing green efforts.

Jennifer talks about Microsoft’s commitment to the environment including making ourselves greener by reducing our carbon footprint and partnering with governmental and non-governmental (NGOs) organizations to to address larger global environmental issues.  At the heart of this is technology. 

The Environment Sustainability Dashboard is a part of that commitment.  The Dynamics AX team has heard from our clients that they are feeling the pressure to report whether that’s for regulatory reasons or for reasons related to the greening of supply chains.

Jennifer shows us a great demo of how this dashboard built into Dynamics AX as a role center takes advantage of SQL Server Analysis and Reporting Services within SharePoint Web Parts.  Out of the box the product provides 4 web parts showing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, actual energy costs and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).  The KPIs are based on Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines v3.0 (aka G3 Indicators); the de facto standards in this area.  With this product a process as simple as paying an energy bill becomes an opportunity to capture information about energy consumption and as a result the ability to calculate the related greenhouse gas emissions.

Jennifer makes the point that “if you can measure it, you can manage it” and shows a couple of scenarios where being able to monitor energy consumption puts organizations in control of that consumption in order to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

There’s a huge demand right now for partners and developers with knowledge in both environmental and ERP systems.  The dashboard comes with just a few web parts leaving open the opportunity for developers to build this out much further (for example with water and waste consumption).  Neil shows us how simple it is for a developer to dive into the Dynamics AX Application Object Tree (AOT) and modify the metadata in order to customize the system in just about any direction.

So yeah, I guess we did just make it a bit easier to be more green.  Sorry about that, Kermit.


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The Discussion

  • User profile image
    Nice interview, but way too many acronyms to follow without pausing and using the wiki.
  • User profile image
    Thanks Chris, 

    What acronyms did you have to look up?  I'd love to update the article to make sure others don't have the same issue.

  • User profile image
    Just to name a few, NGO, KPI, EN3, EN4, etc.

  • User profile image
    Jenn Pollard
    Thanks Chris--and sorry about that.  Let me take a stab at some of those acronyns...

    NGO stands for non-governmental organization... examples include Greenpeace, as well as the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development who have interestingly been working together for the past ten years to create what is known as the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) Protocol which explains to companies how to go about creating an auditable greenhouse gas inventory.

    KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator which is a general term used by organizations to measure their performance against specific goals.  The Global Reporting Initiative, in their efforts to develop a reporting framework for triple bottom line reporting therefore covering financial, social and environmental performance has created indicators in these three realms.  They identify the environmental indicators with the initials EN followed by a number.  There are 30 environmental indicators that they have defined overall and 17 of those they identify as "core".  Of the core indicators, the Environmental Sustainability Dashboard enables 4 out of the box, those are EN3--or direct energy consumption, EN4--indirect energy consumption, EN16--direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and EN17--other greenhouse gas emissions which includes emissions caused indirectly by your business operations, so things like employee commuting, business travel, transport of your products, etc.

    Hope that helps!

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