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Demystifying the steps to a greener organisation

January 11, 2012 • Opinion

Sustainable energy has emerged as an important corporate agenda point and many organisations today communicate their efforts in strategic marketing campaigns. These campaigns bring across the importance of sustainability efforts and how this will make a difference.

Dr Andrew Hutchison, International Presales Management at T-Systems in South Africa (image: T-Systems)

The challenge is to take this concept and implement it in a practical sense.

Already there are leaders in the field but the question remains: how should organisations incorporate this into their activities and also filter their ideas through to their various offices and branches – globally and locally?

Importantly, how does one instil a culture of ‘green’ through sustainable energy practices that offer tangible and measurable returns?

Technology plays an important role in the enablement of a greener society and assists organisations to implement measures that are tangible and offer practical results. One example is the use of videoconferencing as part of an organisation’s Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) strategy which can mitigate unnecessary travel.

Other examples include using smart navigation systems to find best and shortest routes, saving time and fuel – especially where a fleet or many vehicles are operated. Implementing recycling practices for technology assets can be another mechanism in working towards a greener organisation.

The above are well-known examples of today’s practical implementation of green measures. The T-Systems approach is based on the international standardisation differentiation between direct and indirect environmental aspects, and leverages how these can make a difference. Areas which can have a direct impact on the environment include:

* Use and contamination of soil (including inside buildings)

* Use of energy (electricity, fuel, heating)

* Use of raw materials and resources ( including operating materials, auxiliary materials and hazardous substances)

* Use of water and the creation of waste water

* Production and disposal of waste

* Waste air / exhaust gas

* Electromagnetic emissions

* Prevention of accidents and risks with environmental relevance

In addition to direct environmental aspects there are also indirect aspects that can make a difference. Key indirect environmental aspects that can have a positive sustainability impact on products, services and solutions include:

* Substitution or elimination of paper

* Traffic avoidance via smart navigation or intelligent car and fleet management systems

* Energy savings through the optimum usage of resources within the organisation

* Substitution of hardware – using virtualised environments and Cloud Computing to drive down energy consumption

It should be clear from the preceding list that information and communication technology (ICT) can be a major enabler for improving various direct and indirect environmental issues.

Through obtaining ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems: Requirements) certification, T-Systems in South Africa has demonstrated – in addition to its four other ISO certifications in security, quality, service delivery & occupational health / safety – that an environmental management system forms a key part of its local activities and sustainability commitment. With this internal orientation and experience, T-Systems is well poised to assist and enable its clients in achieving their own sustainability goals. In particular the local and international portfolio of “Green ICT” services from T-Systems targets information & communication technology aspects in particular.

The Green ICT activities of T-Systems have been recognised internationally.  For example, in Austria T-Systems received the IDC Green IT Award and the Vienna Environmental Award for the implementation of the Green Dynamics model.

The green dynamics model demonstrates potential cost, energy and carbon consumption reductions when applications are operated on a standardized, highly automated shared platform – such as the Cloud Computing platform in T-Systems.

There is no single solution, yet organisations undoubtedly stand to gain a lot by evaluating and identifying the direct and indirect environmental aspects which are unique to their operation. With the assistance of experienced service providers, the exercise need not be as onerous as it may initially seem.  Through setting up a scorecard, the current status can be baselined and improvements can then be targeted and achieved.

Dr Andrew Hutchison, International Presales Management at T-Systems in South Africa

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