The Maturity of Green Technology

(Ping! Zine Issue 52) – Being ‘green’ has never meant so much to businesses, no matter what their industry. On one hand there are benefits to be reaped from the practicalities of going green – reducing overheads, waste, and other respective day-to-day savings. On the other hand is the notion of corporate social responsibility (CSR), wherein a company has a duty not only to its direct customers, but also the world.

If it weren’t for efforts of inquisitive scientists and fastidious mathematicians however, it’s debatable whether this green movement would have ever become so great. It is only since mankind learned of the fragility of the planet’s resources, and the realities of what causes climate change (carbon-dioxide emissions) that governments, businesses and individuals have stood up to their responsibilities when it comes to efficiency.

Why are companies going green?
In today’s competitive business environment, where resources are stretched and every efficiency matters, it’s no wonder that even the largest of organizations are making savings by investing in green technologies. Not only can these measures save them money in the long run, but they demonstrate a commitment to customers and shareholders that a business is a forward-thinking organization – committed to improving its efficiency levels.

There are dozens of models now out there; guiding businesses on how to become a more efficiency-aware and sustainable force. Accreditations such as the ISO14000 family of standards – which help organizations minimize the sustainable aspects of their operations – are finding favor with businesses of all shapes and size. Just like being a member of an elite club, companies certified with these standards stand out as a pinnacle of excellence and credibility. As such, they could even find favor with firms also awarded with the coveted ISO-mark.

Technology matters
While, on the surface, technology enterprises might seem like a wasteful sector – thanks to their constant demand for electricity – Newsweek’s 2011 Green Ranking poll tells a different story. With such big names as IBM, HP, SAP and Dell all making the top 25 global companies for their low environmental footprints and green management programs, it seems that technology firms are actually among the pack leaders.

These organizations’ efforts to improvements range from the very small – by providing office recycling services or implementing cycle-to-work initiatives – to the very large, such as moving entire databases to geographically cool, low-energy colocation centers.

No matter how large or small though, each and every saving a company makes can help it move toward something greater. This is what the UK government wishes to kindle through its CRC energy efficiency scheme for example.

The CRC scheme
The scheme features a range of ‘reputational, behavioral and financial drivers, which aim to encourage organizations to develop energy management strategies that promote a better understanding of energy usage’. It was designed to bridge the gap between the Climate Change Agreements (CCAs) and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in response to the fact that large private and public sector organizations make up around 10 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions.

The CRC energy efficiency regulation is a mandatory program, forcing those who have a half-hourly electricity consumption of over 6,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) to commit to reducing the UK’s carbon-emissions by 80 per cent by 2025. It is but one of several regulatory compliance motivators that are making businesses pursue greener horizons.

A desire to stand out from the pack is also a driver for green technology firms.

In an IBM study of more than 1,600 journalists, business leaders, government and non-government organizations from more than 60 countries, 59.1 per cent of respondents said that eco-efficiencies can help differentiate a firm from its competitors. This suggests that the desire to be greener than the next business could lead to financial gain – not only from a CSR point of view – but by developing partnerships with like-minded firms in the future.

Working towards a more efficient future
With the pressures of CSR and government-imposed regulations hitting businesses – plus the alleged savings to be had – it’s understandable why private enterprises are changing the way they operate. Ultimately if they want to be around 100 years in the future, it is the changes that they make now that matter.

Writer’s Bio: Dominic Monkhouse joined PEER 1 Hosting as managing director of the company’s new UK operations in January, 2009, bringing more than 14 years of IT industry experience to the team. Dominic is the key executive responsible for building and growing PEER 1 Hosting’s expansion into Europe.