Posts Tagged ‘Green computing’

Green Policy in Action

March 29, 2009

I was reading CIO’s Green IT Survey the other day which indicated that IT executives exhibit two primary factors in adopting environmental driven change: cost-cutting and being socially responsible corporate citizens.   Coincidentally, the article was written a year ago, which was the same time that I established a Green Policy Committee at QSR International.  It was interesting to compare the initiatives mentioned in the survey against the initiatives we have undertaken at QSR International over the past year.

The objectives of the committee were to:

  1. Increase awareness of environmental issues within the company
  2. Reduce the company’s carbon footprint
  3. Move the company towards more sustainable business practices

which were framed in light of:

  1. Australia producing 4.5 times the global average for carbon emissions on a per person basis
  2. ICT industry being responsible for 2% of global carbon emissions (equivalent to the aviation industry)
  3. Future regulatory changes that will emerge to meet Kyoto Protocol objectives

The committee was formed by requesting for volunteers across the company.  However, volunteers were predominantly IT related staff.  This in itself would have skewed how we approached the objectives and influenced the actions undertaken.  The actions that the committee were able to successfully implement included:

  • Switching electricity supply from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy from Red Energy
  • Consolidating servers by replacing physical servers with virtualized servers and a storage area network
  • Consolidating printers by retiring personal printers and reducing the total number of network printers
  • Configuring network printers to print duplex by default
  • Switching consumables to recycled paper and recyclable toner cartridges
  • Redesigning internal document templates to be less verbose
  • Improving data centre cooling facilities by installing insulation and a more efficient cooling system
  • Replacing lighting with energy efficient lighting
  • Configuring personal computers to use power management instead of screen savers
  • Configuring personal computers to automatically switch off after business hours
  • Capturing power consumption metrics to facilitate ongoing monitoring
  • Increasing the portion of staff that regularly telecommute
  • Presenting to staff on initiatives that they can undertake at home

As can be seen, the efforts to date have been primarily focused on internal efficiency initiatives, which has provided a secondary benefit of cost reductions.  Going forward, the focus will need to be more on external efficiency initiatives; that is, how we conduct business with our customers and suppliers.  Also, we will be looking into the possibility of offsetting our carbon emissions through an environmental program.  Ultimately, we want to be socially responsible corporate citizens, but also socially responsible caretakers for the future generations to come.

To finish, I quote Al Gore in his 2006 documentary film An Inconvenient Truth

You see that pale, blue dot? That’s us. Everything that has ever happened in all of human history, has happened on that pixel. All the triumphs and all the tragedies, all the wars all the famines, all the major advances… it’s our only home. And that is what is at stake, our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization. I believe this is a moral issue, it is your time to cease this issue, it is our time to rise again to secure our future.

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