Going Green

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Overview

With so much talk of climate change and greenhouse emissions, we often wonder if we, as a global society, can ever achieve a carbon neutral or net zero target.

It requires a significant change in all of our behaviours, and in the use of technology, a big ask, on an international scale, but a target we should all aim for nevertheless.

The climate change committee has set a target that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78% by 2035 as a necessary step towards achieving ‘net zero’ by 2050.

How can technology and IT contribute to achieving this goal?

When it comes to the world of work, and our reliance on technology and energy resources to run our systems, processes and manufacturing production, it’s not surprising to note its significant contribution to overall carbon emissions.

Through research, we’ve identified that the annual environmental footprint of a user of a company’s IT system is roughly equivalent to the air pollution of a 1,926 mile car ride (around 788kg of CO2), the energy usage of charging 100,540 smartphones (about 1,520 kWh of energy), and 428 showers (23,555 litres of water). That’s probably more than most of us would expect.

For any reduction targets to be achieved, we must first be able to measure the environmental impact of our operations now, and when mitigating measures have been put in place.

Measuring carbon footprint allows us to identify where there are quick wins, where inefficiencies can be addressed to reduce drain on resources and limit waste production. This is where we apply our SMART strategy, to plan, implement and measure the impact of actions.

In the world of ICT this environmental audit covers a wide range of operational equipment and processes including but not limited to:

  • Computer hardware
  • Telephone infrastructure
  • Servers and data centres
  • Printers, inks and paper
  • LAN, WLAN networks
  • Technology waste management
  • Inefficiencies, such as time wasting processes, unnecessary travel easily replaced by IT, staff training to improve awareness and workflow

Our role is not only to ensure equipment and systems are energy efficient, but to put in place real-time monitoring to ensure energy efficiency is maintained, and prompt remedial action is taken should a problem occur.

This monitoring process includes automated observation of real time usage levels and power consumption alongside careful configuration of IT infrastructure to optimise Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

Achieving net zero emissions is achieved by reducing the amount of carbon emissions created by an organisation, and balancing this with measures to absorb any residual carbon dioxide emissions from the environment. The good news is that it is achievable.

Here is how we help you achieve a zero carbon footprint:

  • reducing energy demand from non-renewable sources, replacing it with renewable, ‘green’, carbon neutral resources
  • adopting high energy efficient standards for buildings e.g. smart lighting and heating
  • employing energy saving ‘sleep modes’ for dormant equipment
  • improving and moderating temperature controls
  • Using smart appliances and energy storage solutions and self-generation of energy e.g. solar energy where possible
  • increasing the use and application of IT across your organisation, to remove the need for travel
  • Using cloud services to allow access to data and information from anywhere, via the internet, reducing the need for paper, for travel, and transport of physical materials such as documents, pictures and presentations

  1. Going paperless
    Cloud technology and shared access to documents, information and processes negates the need for paper on a huge scale. Digital scanning and archiving allow for sharing of data from anywhere in just a few clicks.
  2. Removing servers
    Servers are huge consumers of energy. Removing them saves the energy they consume when running, and the removes the need for server hardware or the environmentally controlled accommodation in which to house it.
  3. Replace ageing equipment with energy efficient alternatives
    Replacing ageing equipment has two main benefits: new features and functions due to technological advances, which in turn improves the productivity of its user, and improved energy efficiency. Both of these should be key considerations when choosing any new IT equipment.
  4. Recycle redundant hardware
    It is possible to employ a zero to landfill policy in your organisation. Many electronic items can be recycled, reused and repurposed ready to be distributed to local schools or charities to extend their working life. Ensure all data is erased before doing so, and check with your original supplier too, to see if they have a recycle policy and will take your unwanted equipment off your hands.
  5. Remote working, teleconferencing, virtual meetings
    The majority of us have been forced to adapt to remote working in recent times. This has had a notable positive effect on environmental emissions due to a dramatic reduction in the daily commute and need for business travel.We have discovered new methods of working, embracing the best and most easily accessible technology to meet, converse and hold meetings in a way that has a significantly reduced any impact on the environment. Office buildings are no longer lit up day and night, and heating and cooling these huge buildings is no longer a priority.

    The European Environment Agency reported (Nov 2020) that in 2020, the impact of Covid resulted in ‘temporary improvements in air quality, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and lower levels of noise pollution’. Can we sustain this for the long term? Technology has demonstrated that we can stay connected without the need to be face to face, and we know that personal laptops and heating homes is more energy efficient than providing IT and building infrastructure to accommodate the needs of office based workers.

    “While 92 percent of executives agree that emerging technologies can help improve both their bottom line and sustainability, only 59 percent are investing for this purpose.”

    It’s our mission to improve this trend, helping organisations to embrace the environmental benefits of modern technology whilst benefiting from an increase in performance, productivity and profitability too.

  6. Cut business travel emissions.
    Travel, by any mode of transport, is one of the more significant contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world. In America, the transport sector accounts for 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions each year. It’s easy to see therefore, that by reducing the need for travel, you can reduce emissions and make a quick impact on your carbon footprint straight away.For more insights on business travel emissions, just take a look at the GHG Protocol, an organisation tasked with measuring such emissions. Large corporations such as IBM have adopted standards from the organisation to help measure their carbon footprint. Travel companies themselves are even taking measures to help to cut down on emissions.

    Where employees must attend the office, if remote working isn’t an option, encourage your employees to bike to work by providing a space for them to change and shower. Facilitate carpooling among colleagues with commuter-matching programs and incentives like preferred parking plots. When flying, book the more fuel-efficient economy seats on direct flights.

    Of course, the best way to reduce business travel emissions is to not travel at all. Consider allowing employees to work from home to cut commuter emissions. Whenever possible, hold virtual meetings and training sessions rather than travelling. This could also include paying to have a speaker come to your location for training as opposed to sending people offsite for training.

    If you need help improving your organisations’ green credentials, please talk to us, we’d be happy to assist using our knowledge and experience in this field.

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