Tanya is a native Californian expat living in Oslo, Norway. Tanya wants to see organizations reform and prioritize environmentally responsible sustainability.
One advantage of getting older is getting a long term perspective, and seeing societal changes in your lifetime. The looming threat of nuclear arms shrouded my generation for decades, and this has been overshadowed by the reality of global warming. The enemy is no longer “them” but “us”.
Climate change is a threat we can face as individuals, where each can choose to make a difference through action, rejecting apathy. Key individuals working in the private and public sector have an important opportunity to act responsibly on the frontlines, to cut carbon emissions corporately. Most companies want to reduce internal waste and emissions, but profit demands combined with weak incentives make it difficult to prioritize. Managers can make decisions that can both improve the bottom line while contributing to reducing waste and emissions. Smart green growth is achievable now, and there are numerous examples of companies using IT asset management tools to save resources in their IT departments.
“Business is the force of change. Business is essential to solving the climate crisis, because this is what business is best at: innovating, changing, addressing risks, searching for opportunities. There is no more vital task.”
– Richard Branson
Waste not, want not
While the world’s climate changes are taking a huge toll, this crisis creates an opportunity for corporations to change their focus from short-term to sustainable profitability, by adopting strategies that conserve resources and contribute to smarter solutions. The good old-fashioned value of thrift needs to replace the widespread culture of greed which has culminated in the current global financial crisis. The shift from a commodity-based economy to a knowledge-based one should help enable sustainable growth, but still we see enormous amounts of IT resources being wasted and contributing to global warming.
Corporate IT resources need to be scrutinized to find new ways of cutting waste and saving precious resources, with the adoption of long-lasting products instead of disposable ones. Companies share a great responsibility to choose business models that reduce their CO2 footprints drastically, and instead of seeing this as a costly burden should embrace this as an opportunity to get ahead of the competition through improved innovation and profitability. Corporate ability to make changes that make a difference is not just idealism, it is realism. A study conducted by the Climate Group for GeSI (Global e-Sustainability Initiative) estimates the effective use of IT worldwide can reduce total emissions by 15% by 2020, while reducing global energy costs by over 500 billion Euros.
”People are already using this economic slowdown to retool and reorient economies. Germany, Britain, China and the U.S. have all used stimulus bills to make huge new investments in clean power. South Korea’s new national paradigm for development is called: “Low carbon, green growth.”
-Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times, March 8, 2009
Governments are acting now
Governing bodies around the globe are making policies and regulations to deal with the climate and resource crises. They are contributing to Green growth themselves by aligning public acquisitions and services to new, smarter Green standards. Government agencies actively use requirements for bids and contracts to attract new, innovative technology services and products. Trade barriers and other hindrances are being removed and subsidies are being created for green technology. Right now the EU commission is working on removing subsidies that favor climate-damaging technology and penalties may be introduced.
The financial crisis packages in 2008 and 2009 demonstrate how countries worldwide have mobilized enormous resources to support innovative solutions to climate change problems. Other examples include Cisco systems working with the city of Amsterdam to design smart work centers, Southern California Edison’s use of smart grid technology to save energy and cut emissions, and the State of California’s Green IT policy which will ensure reduced emissions by 200,000 tons per year while saving $40 million.
A report for smart green growth by consulting firm Econ Pöyry has provided business arguments for creating a shift towards resource-effective service solutions. Change is necessary and inevitable, and companies that want to succeed need to be in the forefront of finding solutions to the crisis. Lean and green IT follows general business models where resources are better utilized, enabling more productivity and reducing waste. Companies will be also be required to reduce waste, and are doing so already by using IT automation and management tools.
”The future will see high energy prices, carbon constraints and greater competition for resources and markets. All of these are risks but also present opportunities to create a ‘new’ EU 2020 economy with a strong global competitive advantage. New greener technologies can stimulate growth, create new jobs and services and help the EU meet climate change goals. On the other hand, failure to adapt to the 21st century would see Europe decline”.
-EU 2020, EU’s new growth strategy
Paradigm shift scenarios –Not business as usual
Desperate times require radical change. According to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the ICT sector is leading the way by promoting energy efficient devices, applications and networks, along with encouraging Green design initiatives and reducing GHG emissions. ICT helps companies replace physical goods and transport with digitalized services, and the shift from physical commodities to virtual ones has a much lighter CO2 burden.
Technological innovation and structural change will help companies adapt and grow, and create new ground rules. The climate/resource crisis is putting fossil-driven industry under pressure while new solutions are being developed and will eventually take over. Legislature cannot alone create change but can provide opportunities for solution providers to thrive. Development and change will come from pioneers providing new solutions and from the competition between them. In the new paradigm, as material is increasingly replaced by intelligent services, industry will move from producing disposable technology towards sustainable IT services, with customer experience and satisfaction as quality factors. We will move from limited, personal reuse and recycling to greater industrialized reuse and recycling*. Green IT initiatives supporting these trends are already widely in use by companies looking for an economic advantage.
Replacing material and making it smarter
New industry is based on services and knowledge. Goods are delivered virtually as bits instead of as atoms. Smart sharing of services through collective, cooperative solutions is replacing individual ownership in several areas, such as urban planning (see www.opensourceplanning.org). With soaring energy prices and a high carbon price tag, cutting power usage is important in Green IT, yet far greater gains can be made though smart IT automation and optimization of data centers. Each installation, machine and system in use will be highly effective thanks to metering, control mechanisms and other technology to improve operational efficiency. In addition, excess resources can be taken from one process and used in another, and products such as software licenses can be recycled. Change occurs as new solutions become more lucrative and attractive, while others become archaic and expensive. Needs will be met in new ways and create new business growth opportunities.
Survival of the fittest with Green IT variations
Changing environmental factors will cause businesses to evolve or die. Green IT is about making innovations a part of mainstream business. Companies that want to survive will prepare for change and transform to stay competitive, by adopting new strategies and solutions. Many technological solutions for saving IT resources already exist, but will be used by more businesses looking to improve their bottom line while lightening their CO2 footprints.
Tailored third-party solutions, where functions are offered as adaptive services and economic and technological risk is carried by the third party (i.e. cloud computing), can in many cases provide the stimulus to entice users to choose a new solution. Decisive prerequisites for greater value creation is greater efficiency and productivity, and less productive enterprises, and those producing less valued goods and services will give way for those which are more productive and offering more value to customers. Cloud computing saves space, energy and maintenance expenses for servers, while providing customers with flexibility and choice.
Companies who can quickly adjust to changing markets will get more out of their workforce, capital and other resources. Ineffective processes lose companies time and money, and according to IBM every week 5.3 hours per employee is wasted due to ineffective work processes, while worldwide trade losses amount to billions because of inefficient supply chains. These losses are preventable when companies use analytical IT solutions for informed planning and system automation.
Open iT provides software management tools that improve managers’ access to information and provide a global overview of all distributed IT resources in an enterprise, leading to smarter utilization of resources. Increasing efficiency, cutting costs, saving money and improving ROI are all important benefits of using IT asset management tools, but helping organizations get green is essential for overcoming the climate and resource crisis.
* Brunstad, B. (2008): “A planlegge for store samfunnsomveltninger: Paradigmeanalyse som fremsynsmetode.” Plan – tidsskrift for samfunnsplanlegging, byplan og regional utvikling(5): 16-23