It's the tool to replace the chief sustainability officer.

SAP made good Thursday on a longstanding promise to provide a single software platform to manage the tasks of certifying carbon emission reductions, saving energy, keeping tabs on pollution and keeping up good relations with employees and communities.

The SAP Sustainability Performance Management application ties into SAP's Carbon Impact software to track energy use and carbon emissions, as well as SAP's environmental health and safety management and enterprise resource planning applications (see Giants vs. Startups: SAP Stakes Carbon Accounting Claim).

Of course, SAP's new platform will also integrate applications from other companies, Peter Graf, chief sustainability officer, said in a Thursday conference call.

But there's little doubt that SAP – with a global client base representing one-sixth of the world's carbon emissions – is looking for ways to dominate the market. SAP has signed on customers including Nestle and Lexmark for the integrated sustainability management product, and its carbon counting software clients include SunPower, Intuit and Autodesk.

Corporate sustainability today is mostly an ad hoc affair, Graf said, with those in charge of it having to place phone calls, send emails, compile spreadsheets and draft reports from data that dribbles in, sometimes in differing formats that makes integrating it quite difficult (see Obstacle to Cutting Emissions: Filling Out Surveys).

Software that turns that chore into a window of insight for strategic business planning – say, by comparing the costs and benefits of a wide range of sustainable-minded projects in a way CEOs can appreciate – will be far more useful than keeping carbon, energy, environmental and social responsibility planning in separate systems, he said (see Carbon Accounting: It's All About Appearances).

As companies like Walmart begin demanding standardized environmental and energy use data from their suppliers, having a way to meet those goals will become necessary, not optional, he added (see The Green Supply Chain Challenge).

That fact hasn't escaped SAP's competitors. CA, for its part, is rolling out software for carbon, energy and sustainability accounting, with clients such as the United Kingdom's supermarket giant Tesco (see CA's EcoSoftware Lands Tesco as First Client). IBM helps companies track supply chain carbon emission impacts and manage energy and water use (see IBM's Green Sigma Adds Coalition of Heavyweights). Microsoft and Oracle have made some moves with stand-alone products as well.

As for the task of actually monitoring and compiling energy and emissions data, market leaders include SAP – which got there by buying startup Clear Standards this summer – as well as established players such as Johnson Controls and Enviance, which have incumbent positions in energy management and environmental health and safety reporting, respectively.

Startups in the space include CarbonFlow, Planet Metrics, Carbonetworks, CSRWare and Hara – the latter notable for its $20 million in VC backing and list of corporate clients that matches those of SAP and CA (see Green Light post).