How to reduce your carbon footprint
Creating a sustainable IT environment:
By supporting companies and concepts that promote the switch to a low CO2 future, you will help perpetuate the change through supply and demand.
Today, an ever increasing number of businesses commit to using 100% renewable energy.
It has been estimated that by the year 2030 most homes and businesses should achieve carbon neutrality.
How to achieve a carbon neutral status for your business.
Today ICT sustainability is a major environmental issue. IT’s use of electricity is only one aspect of its impact on the environment. The manufacturing process, the use and mining of raw materials, Transporting the finished product and electronic waste known as E-Waste are also major contributing factors. Even using the internet plays a huge part in the overall energy consumption globally.
The basic mantra supporting sustainability is:
- Reduce – Conserve your resources. Use less.
- Go Green – Source the most environmentally friendly product suitable for your application.
- Recycle – Upgrade components to extend the life cycle of the product and always dispose of it correctly.
Start by measuring your current carbon consumption
Perform a green audit to identify carbon consuming hotspots in your business. You can assess your businesses carbon footprint in a single day. Carbon footprint calculators are readily available online. Alternatively, you can hire an experienced consultant like iWolf to take charge of your green initiatives
For more information see our portfolio of Sustainable IT Solutions.
Weaving some of the following green initiatives into the company culture will go a long way in reducing the carbon footprint of your business while reaping the rewards of operating an eco-conscious protocol.
Upgrade your office infrastructure
Start by switching to LED lighting and other energy saving light bulbs. Consider getting Double-glazed windows which are extremely effective to keep in the hot and cold air. Have your heating and cooling systems professionally checked to ensure they are operating at optimum efficiency. Upgrades are not necessarily expensive. Simple solutions like buying quality blinds can also save your business money.
Reduce the total resources used by your daily business processes.
- Send correspondence electronically
- Share documents online.
- Don’t print unnecessarily and always print double sided.
- Retain information and records in digital form to avoid using paper. Go paperless!
- Turn off the lights when not in use. Motion detecting lights are effective and low cost.
- Use natural lighting where possible to reduce your need for artificial light and save electricity.
- Turn off your computer and monitor when you leave each day.
- Computers have power management features you can activate. Make sure you use them
- Use the low-flush options on your toilets appropriately.
- Unplug you phone chargers as they consume electricity even when they’re not in us.
- Conserve Heat. Seal windows, doors and gaps in flooring so heat or cold air cannot escape.
- Adjust the thermostat on your air conditioner. Changing the temperature by just 1 degree Celsius can save up 10% on electricity.
Use Thin-Client computers instead of Desktop Computers
Thin clients and virtual desktops use between 80% and 90% less power and cost less than half of an average desktop computer.
The virtualisation of multiple business servers into a single Hypervisor will greatly decrease your power requirements as well as reduce the number of physical servers in your office, saving both money and space. Adopting the “Network in a Box” business model is a big win on all fronts of sustainability.
Use Power and Water Efficient Appliances
The “Energy Star” logo program developed in 1990 is designed to classify power efficient devices making it easy to choose the right appliance. Lookout for the “Energy Star” logo when shopping for new equipment.
All businesses produce waste. A set of bins labelled for specific waste groups will make sure that each material goes to the right recycler. Place them at key locations such as in hallways, around large group areas, near tables and in cubicles.
Dispose of electronic equipment such as computers, routers, switches, phones, printers and ink cartridges with registered E-Waste recyclers to ensure the valuable materials get used again
Recycle other materials like plastic, cardboard, paper. You can even donate your old office furniture for re-purposing.
Metals can be recycled quickly and easily and put back into reproduction within a few weeks. Selling your scrap metal can earn you some real money.
Use Recycled Products.
Purchase new products in their recycled form and products made from recycled materials. E.g. office furniture made from sustainable and recycled materials such as reclaimed wood and recycled plastics.
Promote the fact you use recycled products and materials as new products to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure your efforts are recognised within your market space. Reputation is important to most consumers when choosing a product.
Educate your employees about the businesses recycling and sustainable business practices. Setup a reward system to encourage conservation and recycling practices. Make it a department or interdepartmental competition. Mobilise your workforce to communicate green objectives
Alternative transportation to work
How does your staff get to work and home again every single week day? There are several alternatives to consider. You can motivate your staff by offering incentives in the form of a reward, subsidy or time off.
- Electric cars, private and company vehicles.
- Cycling, you’ll get fit in the process.
- Walk to work and enjoy the outdoors will improving your health.
- Carpooling, travel with associates or friends that work nearby.
- Start a car-sharing system.
- Public transport.
- Educate employees about buying fuel efficient cars and motorbikes.
Commission staff to work remotely
The huge amount of emissions saved by using less car travel is a major way to improve your company’s carbon footprint. Today most work can be performed remotely from almost anywhere in the world VIA the internet. While many individuals choose this too and from the office every day is a tremendous drain on time and resources. Any job that can be done at a computer workstation can easily be done remotely through desktops and servers. Company phone calls can also be routed via the internet creating a model satellite office for individuals. Important meetings can assemble a few times a week at the office if really necessary or you could substitute using a video conferencing system or free using Skype.
Reduce business travel
The world with video conferencing has largely taken over from the ritual of flying across the world to a meeting to a meeting that isn’t compulsory to attend. Assess your business trips and decide which can’t be avoided. You should also consider a carbon-offset program such as NOCO2 for business travel.
Monitor all deliveries and errands
Coordinate all trips outside to minimise on unnecessary travel. Delay your trips where possible collecting more items that may need to go to the same place or other location near your destination. Work with suppliers to have your shipments delivered in as few trips as possible. Ensure items are not over-packaged and use reusable containers where possible.
Offset your carbon emissions.
Staff gardens have become popular. They provide a place to relax during breaks and also have huge environmental benefits. Planting vegetation improves our air quality by filtering harmful pollutants and carbon from the atmosphere.
Keep measuring your progress
Avoid tunnel vision regarding a greener office environment and step back to see the big picture. Monitor your progress over time and as you make changes to your strategy. Review energy consumption and assess using the carbon footprint calculator or continue to work with a subject specialist. Compare the results with the benchmark calculation you took initially and modify your strategies accordingly. Assign several people to have the businesses green initiatives worked into their weekly schedule.
Going The Extra Mile
Now that you have successfully deployed a CO2 neutral strategy for your business and reaped it rewards, it makes perfect sense to adopt this plan into your personal life. There are many ways that your business processes can be adapted at home and within your family.
Invest in a renewable energy solution. Even though most countries are no longer subsidising new installations, it still makes financial sense to put solar panels on the roof or install your own, small scale wind, solar or hydroelectric plants on your property and pump electricity into the local grid, earning you a small but steady return.
The financial rewards aren’t huge but Australian estimates reflect and average 7-9% “Return on Investment (ROI) per year. Even 7-9% is still far better than leaving your money in a bank.
1) Air travel the largest carbon footprint created by frequent flyers and contributes to almost a quarter of the average traveller’s annual emissions. Always consider using alternatives modes of transport such as trains, busses and boats where possible to avoid taking as many flights.
2) Eat less beef and lamb. Sheep and Cattle emit large quantities of a powerful global warming gas known as methane. A vegan diet can reduce as much as a 20% to your overall carbon impact.
3) Home heating in poorly insulated housing is another major contributor to global warming. A properly insulated loft and filled wall cavities are the most important actions you can take. Another significant aspect is to draught-proof your home. This is something you can do yourself. Solid brick or stone walls will also benefit from adding insulation.
4) Old style gas and oil boilers can also be very wasteful. If your current boiler more than 15 years old, it’s worth considering a replacement. The savings on your fuel bill will often pay for its replacement. Get a quote today.
5) Besides being a major cause of air pollution, the distance people drive every day is another huge contributor to global warming. Reducing the mileage of the average family car by only 5,000 km’s per year will prevent more than a tonne of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. If car travel is crucial, consider buying or leasing an electric vehicle. Even though the electricity used to charge your car will be partly generated by gas or coal, electric vehicles are still much more efficient and will save you money on fuel.
6) It is important to bear in mind that the manufacture of a new electric car may produce more emissions than the vehicle produces in its own lifetime. The same is often true for many other commonly used appliances. For example, the energy required to make a new computer or cellular mobile phone is many times more than the amount of energy used to power it over its lifetime.
7) Since the mid 1990’s, Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) have become cheap and cost effective. It therefore makes good financial and Environmental sense to replace as many “energy-guzzling” halogen lights as possible with their LED counterparts. Low voltage LED lighting systems last for approximately 10 years and will avoid the cost and inconvenience of replacing halogen bulbs every few months.
8) Frequent use of home appliances such as tumble dryers, ovens, stove tops, air conditioners, hot water heaters and refrigerators will all add considerable cost to your energy bill. Be careful when purchasing a new appliance. Never assume that you will benefit from buying the one with the lowest energy rating. Energy efficient appliances often attract a surprisingly high premium. Always “Do the Math”.
9) Buying less of anything is always a good path to achieving lower emissions. Consider the big picture. A suit made from lamb’s wool may have a larger carbon impact than your monthly electricity usage. A simple Tee Shirt might generate higher emissions than two full days of normal power consumption.
10) The logistics component of delivering any product or service is often overlooked when rating CO2 impact. The relevant question here is, how and how far does a commodity have to travel to reach its consumer? For example, Bananas have a relatively low CO2 impact because they are transported by ship, whereas the CO2 impact of organic asparagus is comparatively high when they are flown in from places like Peru.
11) Purchase you electricity or gas from service providers who actively sell renewable energy. Those which are working to provide 100% clean energy should be your first choice.
Take Public Transport or Carpool
According to BSA statistics, the average Australian spends over 25 days of the year in a motor car. Each car emits more than its own weight in CO2. Obviously, one car uses half the fuel use by two and of course a third as much as three. Conversely, taking the bus or train to work can slash down the number of cars on the road dramatically.
Use a Laptop Computer Instead of a Desktop
Unlike desktop computers, laptops and notebooks are designed to be energy efficient. Energy Star USA states, a Notebook computer can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop computer.
If you are buying bottled drinking water, you are part of the problem. Aside from the environmental toll of plastic waste, think about far that water was transported just so you can buy it at the supermarket. If you live in most western countries, Simple tap water in most western countries is perfectly suitable for drinking if you use a filtration system. Become part of the solution.
Curtains and Thermostats
Simple adjustments to curtains and thermostats can regulate the temperature of a home effectively while making a big difference on CO2 emissions. Today there are a range of energy-efficient curtains on the market that can provide extra insulation in your home. Keeping your home two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer can save you big bucks. Turning off your climate control systems while you’re not at home can save you around 15% on energy.