The Importance of Sustainability and the Changes We Need to Make
Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Kerv Group|Kerv
Published 17/03/23 under:
Of all the global events and challenges that face society today, there is arguably none greater than the impact of climate change, the importance of sustainability and the changes we need to make individually, corporately and nationally to prevent catastrophic and irreversible change.
While a complex and (and sometimes emotive) issue, the drive to reduce carbon emissions is a relatively clear and simple goal. The concept of “Net Zero”, the targets that businesses and countries are setting themselves for the achievement of that aim is embraced by almost everyone – and in the UK all companies over a certain size are required to publish their progress on reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions by law.
I firmly believe we’re now at a point where all businesses agree that this an imperative – whether that’s just to reduce their rising energy bills, or because corporately they know that it is not just the right thing to do – but that the expectations of their customers, suppliers and employees demand that they have strong green credentials.
In that context, then – how can technology help a business to achieve its sustainability goals? I see three ways that we can use tech to reduce our environmental impact:
Changing our behaviour
In the last few years, we have witnessed a major shift to hybrid and remote working. I used to go to an office every day, now I average 3 days a week. That’s a 40% saving in the carbon footprint of my travel for work. I’m not alone, most companies are downsizing their offices, or reconfiguring the space reflecting that people tend to go into the office to collaborate with their colleagues, rather than to sit at their desks and crunch emails and spreadsheets. There is a clear societal benefit too, people experiencing life changes, with caring responsibilities or having children can keep working, which is good for them and their employers. This has all been made possible by new technology and it’s a fantastic example of how it can change our behaviour for the better.
We have to add one note of caution to this argument. It’s important to look at the net positive impact. For example, if 100 employees are no longer using an office but working from home, then the energy required to heat the office is saved. But the energy required to heat 100 homes may actually be greater. Moreover, as companies seek to measure their environmental footprint, I believe they may need to factor in the energy used by their employees at home in Scope 2, which are the emissions that a company causes indirectly when the energy it uses is produced.
I still believe that hybrid working delivers significant net benefits on travel, energy and productivity.
“When employees don’t have to commute, they do extra work”
The National Bureau of Economic Research published some data recently which shows that when employees don’t have to commute, they do extra work.
Of the average 72 minutes saved by not commuting each day, employees dedicate 40% to job tasks, 34% to leisure and 11% to caregiving. So, its beneficial to the employee and employer.
Using technology that is more efficient
The second way we can reduce our energy consumption is by using cloud-based applications. While the large data centres used by public cloud companies have been in the spotlight for how much energy they use, they actually use it very efficiently. In fact, according to the Microsoft Cloud Carbon Study 2018, Microsoft Cloud is between 22 and 93 percent more energy efficient than traditional enterprise datacentres. Furthermore, if you take into account renewable energy purchases, the Microsoft Cloud is between 72 and 98 percent more carbon efficient too.
Cloud based applications can also have other environmental benefits which might not be obvious.
More than 272 million new laptops are manufactured every year, making these devices responsible for as much greenhouse gas pollution as the entire airline industry.
Extending the useful life of a laptop can have a material impact on emissions
According to the IT refurbishment company Circular Computing, the average CO2 emissions during production of a new laptop is 331kgs and the carbon footprint during use is approximately 62kgs per year. So, extending the useful life of a laptop can have a material impact on emissions. Cloud can help too, if intensive applications can be run in the cloud, this means that the effective life of laptops can be increased from 3 to 4 years giving an extra 33% laptop life for the same intrinsic carbon footprint.
While initially digital transformation (DX) programmes have been driven by the need to reduce cost, DX is about using technology to re-wire and re-configure the way businesses operate – using cloud and associated technology to re-engineer organisations to streamline business processes and accelerate the flow of information – making business both quicker and more efficient.
Digital transformation by its nature delivers more efficient businesses, requiring fewer computing resources, fewer manual links in the chain and reducing a businesses carbon emissions.
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At Kerv, we leverage the power of technology to help our customers stay ahead, providing end-to-end cloud solutions and digital transformation. We put customers and employees at the heart of everything we do. You’ll notice the difference. Learn more here.
Saving in the carbon footprint of my travel for work.
Microsoft Cloud Carbon Study 2018, Microsoft Cloud is between 22 and 93 percent more energy efficient than traditional enterprise datacentres.
Microsoft Cloud is between 72 and 98 percent more carbon efficient.
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