The Coolest Thing You Can Do With Cow Poop (by Salina Siu)

Thu, 2013-02-28 (All day)

Maybe you can think of a few other good ideas but do those ideas help the environment? Flinging cow poop around doesn't count....The idea is simple - offset the electricity that you create in your home, office or event using cow poop from a Cowpower farm on the other side of town. In our case, the Cowpower farm is in Abbotsford. Rest assured, the process is pleasantly hands-off. 

SAP Vancouver, the technology giant that employs over 1,000 people in our Yaletown location, jumped on board with this idea for an event held at our office on February 7, 2013. We hosted Vancouver's Greenest City Initiative Action Plan "State of the Union" with the Board of Change so of course we had to show off how much SAP loves being green!

Incredibly, Cowpowering our event in SAP Vancouver's 1,600 sq foot business centre only cost $4! I guess with one cow producing over 30 gallons of manure a day, Cowpowered electricity is very affordable.

The event featured Vancouver's Deputy City Manager, Sadhu Johnston and Vancouver's Director of Sustainability, Amanda Pitre-Hayes, who fielded a lot of hard-hitting questions about Vancouver's approach to sustainability. Businesses from the community had a chance to voice their concerns and add their input to the action plan.

While sustainability has always been an important component for SAP Vancouver, more initiatives are being put into place to support the city's new targets. Getting Vancouver to be the greenest city in the world in seven years is no easy feat. SAP Vancouver has already implemented several innovative new ways of being green, including:
- Ride share program and mobile app to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles coming into the office;
- Occupancy sensors being installed in meeting rooms so lights will turn off automatically if there are no people in the room;
- Hosting sustainability minded action roundtable (SMART) events with SFU Beedie School of Business to create a regular forum for sustainability-minded professionals working to change businesses from the inside out; and
- Free Skytrain fares to reduce taxi rides from the office to the airport for business travel.

Existing sustainable initiatives that are already part of the culture at the SAP Vancouver office include:
- SAP Bikes Program allows employees to rent out bikes on demand and on premise for a ride during lunch or to do a quick errand. Visitors to the office can also take advantage of the bikes if they choose not to taxi to and from their hotel each day;
- Employee subsidies for public transportation, ample bike storage and shower facilities to encourage employees commute sustainably, cutting down the number of employees driving to work to 23.5%;
- Composting in all office kitchens, which has diverted 50 metric tonnes of CO2 and 1050 metric tonnes of methane in 132 weeks of participation; and
- Investing in technology and online meeting platforms that supports more Telepresence and video conferencing to cut down on business travel.

Looking at both lists, I think offsetting electricity with cow poop is definitely the coolest.

Being able to take something that is normally so stinky, unwanted and gross, and turning it into an opportunity to help the environment is a great analogy for life. There are probably millions of things we dismiss as useless in our regular day life and never think twice about. But maybe we should.

What else do we perceive as stinky waste but could be turned into methane and used to generate electricity as well?

A guest posting by Salina Siu, Social Media Intern with SAP

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