Recently in Best Practice Category

Identifying governance best practices for managing corporate sustainability projects

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I recently came across this post  on by Christopher Mines from Forrester which discusses the need for coherent governance of sustainability initiatives.

He suggests there are three critical categories of setting governance best practices:

1. Setting goals

2. Creating incentives

3. Formalising structure

The post makes the point that the likely buyers of sustainability software will be business leaders who hold the budget for sustainability technology, with business and IT coming together around two important capabilities: integration with existing systems, and analytic capabilities. A sustainability software solution must be able to integrate with existing systems in, e.g., ERP, building management, and supply chain.




After City bonuses, the next perk: secure bike parking

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Pip Errington, who runs the ecoXchange site, which features a new procurement tool that puts eco-products, including ICT products, in front of serious business buyers, pointed me to this story in the Evening Standard blogs, which discusses why secure bike parking has become a must-have perk for City financiers before agreeing to switch employers in the Square Mile.

The piece quotes Iain Simmons, assistant transportation director at the City of London Corporation, who says: "One thing I found staggering was when a director of a City business told me about a job interview with an investment banker.

"When it comes to questions, people are saying to them: 'Part of my lifestyle is that I want to cycle to work. Can you guarantee me a cycle parking space, quality shower and locker?' If the answer is no, they are going to work for somebody else who can."

The blog suggests that the City of London Corporation, the local authority for the Square Mile, believes that an extra 27,000 bike parking places are needed after research showed the lack of secure storage stopped thousands of people cycling to work.



Enter the Sustainable Business Awards

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The Guardian is running some sustainable business awards for companies that have recognised the importance of integrating sustainability into the core of their operations to ensure their future success.

The aspiration is that this creative potential will lead to the development of innovative practices, ranging from technological solutions to energy efficiency to intelligent supply chain management that can be shared as best practices.

The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards have been created to recognise the sustainability leadership these companies are providing. You can find out more about the awards here

But time is running out: entries close on February 7th.

Is your Green IT thinking outmoded?

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A report from independent analyst firm Verdantix suggests that Deloitte, IBM and Logica lead the global market for sustainable technology services and leaving those competitors who are simply focused on green IT trailing behind.

The study of 15 of the largest global IT services firms, with combined revenues of $324bn analysed organisations;' IT service delivery capabilities for building energy efficiency, renewable energy, intelligent transport, electric vehicles, carbon and energy management software, climate change risk modelling and utility smart grid.

The firms included in the study were Accenture, Atos Origin, BT Global Services, Capgemini, CSC, Deloitte, Fujitsu Services, Hitachi Consulting, HP, IBM GBS, Infosys, Logica, Orange Business Services, TCS and Wipro.

According to Stuart Neumann, Verdantix Industry Analyst and author of the report, the sustainable business market opportunity for technology services firms is in transition and only a handful of thought leaders globally understand where the chips will fall.

"Technology services firms rooted in outmoded green IT thinking are already losing out on multi-million dollar contracts," says Neumann. "Our research found that large multi-nationals and city leaders want IT support for new sustainability initiatives such as electric vehicle infrastructure, offshore wind farms and global carbon management systems. Technology investment in these new areas is much larger than spend on green IT projects like data centre energy efficiency and PC power management."

The Verdantix report, Green Quadrant Sustainable Technology Services, is based on in-depth interviews with an independent, international panel of 15 senior IT buyers in the private and public sectors. Verdantix also interviewed practice leaders from 13 of the 15 suppliers assessed in the study. The key findings of the study are:

  • Deloitte, IBM and Logica lead the global market for sustainable technology services. Market leadership requires a strategic commitment to sustainable business, visionary commercial leaders, dedicated consultants with deep domain expertise, a roster of big project wins and a broad portfolio. Deloitte leads the market in energy and carbon management software, environmental product LCA and sustainability reporting services. IBM's water management and data centre energy efficiency offerings stand out from the crowd reflecting several years of heavy R&D investment. During the last 3 years Logica has won a slew of innovative sustainable technology projects including electric vehicle infrastructure in the Netherlands, building energy efficiency for the UK Ministry of Defence, renewable energy management systems in Portugal and low carbon electricity networks.
  • BT, HP and Orange Business Services leverage a solid sustainability platform. Customers who buy sustainable technology advice and project implementation expect their suppliers to achieve high levels of corporate sustainability performance. BT Global Services, HP and Orange Business Services embed sustainability into their firm's culture and have market leading corporate sustainability performance. In addition, these firms have high quality sustainable technology service offerings in specific markets: Orange offers strong fleet management and telemetry services and HP has launched an innovative flight planning service with environmental benefits.
  • Capgemini, CSC and Hitachi Consulting show promise in specific service lines. Capgemini puts in a strong showing in areas of focus like data centre energy efficiency, utility smart grid and water management. CSC has built up a broad and strong portfolio centred on five service lines: intelligent transport, climate change risk assessment, utility smart grid, data centres and water management. Hitachi Consulting targets a broader range of service lines with an impressive level of innovation and customer success achieved on climate change risk assessment. In 2011 these providers have the core expertise to expand into other areas with nascent capabilities.

"The market for technology-enabled sustainability has come a long way since the early days of green IT in 2006" commented David Metcalfe, the Verdantix Director recently named Green IT Analyst Of The Year. "This study clearly demonstrates that the era of green IT is dead and buried. The big money today is in contracts that support sustainability initiatives like London's city-wide bike hire scheme, systems integration for 400MW offshore wind farms and unified global IT systems for energy efficiency and emissions reporting. To win these deals, IT services firms must show the entrepreneurial flair and strategic intent demonstrated by Logica. A narrow focus on data centre energy efficiency and PC power management will severely limit the revenue opportunities available to IT services firms from 2011 onwards."

CBI tells Government to match its green ambition with action

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The CBI has taken a shot at the government over the system of planning for Green energy projects and warned that business still has concerns over the future of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme.


The CBI believes uncertainty about how the planning system will operate is undermining the Coalition's pledge to be the "greenest government ever", the CBI said in launching its latest Climate Change Tracker, which charts progress in de-carbonising four areas: power, buildings, transport and industry. Of the 13 indicators, one is green showing progress is on track (nuclear), three are red for little progress (homes, buildings and industry) and 9 are amber showing good ambition but insufficient delivery.


The group called on the Government to tackle a raft of planning applications awaiting approval and to ensure the transition to its new Major Infrastructure Unit is smooth.


It highlighted 37 energy infrastructure projects awaiting a decision, inherited from the previous government. These include wind farms, nuclear and gas-fired power stations, which are essential for delivering a balanced and sustainable energy mix.


The CBI also warned that the Government's proposed changes to the CRC had removed an important incentive for businesses to improve energy efficiency. The Government's subsequent decision to delay the second phase of CRC has not allayed concerns among businesses about how the scheme will work.


Without confidence and certainty in critical areas such as planning, the CRC and electricity market reform, the CBI believes investment needed for low-carbon buildings and infrastructure will not be unlocked, endangering the UK's ability to meet climate change targets.


John Cridland, CBI Director-General Designate warned that changes to the Carbon Reduction Commitment and the planning system have created a mood of uncertainty among investors.


"An effective planning system is at the heart of building the low-carbon infrastructure needed to transform our economy," he said, adding that 'businesses that take steps to cut their emissions should be rewarded, not penalised. That's why the CRC needs changing to ensure it is an incentive for action.


"This Government has great green ambition, but we need to see swift action if it is to fulfil its green promise."


The CBI has set out the actions needed to get the UK on track to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets. In the next six months the CBI is calling for the Government to:


·                       Clear the backlog of delayed planning applications

·                       Finalise Electricity Market Reform plans

·                       Support investors with a prompt national planning statement on energy

·                       Change the Carbon Reduction Commitment to incentivise energy efficiency among companies

·                       Approve the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration project

·                       Ensure long-term incentives for the success of electric vehicles beyond 2012

·                       Clarify the details of the Green Deal to ensure it will stimulate consumer demand.


Green Business Leadership and the World Climate Summit

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Last time I mentioned the excellent Green awards that took place in London. They were not the only awards taking place recently. Another set were the Gigaton Awards, referred to in this piece by Andrew Winston on the Harvard Business Review blogs. In fat, there's a close link referred to in the piece with Sir Richard Branson's Carbon War Room.

Winston remarks that the point of the Awards is to praise companies that are actually cutting emissions in order to inspire others.

I concur, provided that that inspiration actually works. As Winston points out, given the challenges of climate change and the policy failures of recent years, it was good to celebrate business and the work it's doing.

"This is hard work and many of the executives representing their companies are in fairly thankless positions.  All that said, it's clear that these Awards were just a beginning. We're not at gigaton scale by any stretch. The winners have made cuts on the millions of tons at most. Gigatons have to happen at the industry and value-chain level, and that is the work that the CWR is doing."



Chinese ingenuity scoops Grand Prix at Green Awards

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I attended the Green Awards last week and met some interesting people from Microsoft on the sustainability side, Business Green, Alchemy Relocation, University of Reading and Green IT specialist VeryPC

Secretary of State Chris Huhne said a few words pre-Cancun and Sir David Attenborough picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award. But the highlight for me was the ingenuity shown by the Chinese in this stunning advertising idea from the China Enivronmental Protection Foundation, creating a Green pedestrian crossing and picking up the Grand Prix award. There's nothing about Green IT in this story; but it's just a brilliant idea. 

The Green Benefits of Business on Demand

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Both Cloud Computing and sustainability are emerging as transformative trends in business and society.


Cloud Computing was recently named the top technology for IT directors to be aware of in 2011 and there is little doubt that the business community has begun to embrace Cloud Computing as a viable option to reduce costs and to improve IT and business agility.


At the same time, as a recent Microsoft White Paper on sustainability and Cloud Computing discussed, sustainability continues to gain importance as a performance indicator for organisations and their IT departments. Corporate sustainability officers, regulators and other stakeholders have become increasingly focused on IT's carbon footprint, and organisations are likewise placing more emphasis on developing long-term strategies to reduce their carbon footprint through more sustainable operations and products.


Like broadband and other technologies provided by the ICT sector, Cloud Computing

is emerging as a viable, scalable technology that can help significantly reduce carbon emissions by enabling new solutions for smart grids, smart buildings, optimised logistics and

dematerialisation. Broad adoption of Cloud Computing can stimulate innovation and accelerate the deployment of these enabled solutions. Consequently, Cloud Computing may have a major impact on global carbon emissions through indirect benefits in addition to the direct savings from replacement of on-premise infrastructure.


The Cloud advantage is particularly compelling for small deployments, because a dedicated

infrastructure for small user counts-- as in a small business running its own servers--typically operates at a very low utilisation level and may be idle for a large part of the day.


For many small businesses, technology is a necessary headache that usually takes them out of their comfort zone. Technology is essential in business today but how many people understand their technical requirements? This often leads to either expensive or poorly implemented IT solutions. 


Now, however, a range of Cloud-based services are being developed to take the stress away from small and medium-sized businesses by offering 'switched on' access to business services. One, Business On Demand is currently offering business a series of services - including Company Registration, Internet, Telephony Services, Software on Demand, eLearning, Accountancy and Inventory and Collaboration - all offered at a low monthly rate delivered when and where they want it.


That gives all sizes of business, from sole traders to 100 strong SMEs, back the time they need to focus on their core business, reducing their operational costs, eliminating the need for costly expertise and equipment, reducing the hassle associated with on premise solutions, and, most importantly, at the same time, reducing their carbon footprint.


How? Because generally speaking, the comparatively smaller carbon footprint of Cloud Computing is a consequence of both improved infrastructure efficiency and a reduced need for IT infrastructure to support a given user base. Energy use and emissions can be reduced by more than 90 percent with a shared Cloud service, taking advantage of dynamic provisioning: reducing wasted computing resources through better matching of server capacity with actual demand; multi-tenancy: flattening relative peak loads by serving large numbers of organisations and users on shared infrastructure; server utilisation: operating servers at higher utilisation rates; and data centre efficiency: utilising advanced data centre infrastructure designs that reduce power loss through improved cooling and power conditioning,


Case Study: Green IT in manufacturing

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I came across this story about IT in manufacturing where a US company, Eaton, has installed six of its uninterruptible power systems (UPS) in its data centres, helping the company save roughly $75,000 a year in energy costs.

The story, carried by Reuters from content by, recounts that Eaton has achieved efficiencies at its Cleveland-based data centres by investing in VMware virtualisation technology, which has enabled Eaton to remove 670 servers. That means the company has reduced its annual power consumption by more than 4.4 million kilowatt-hours and cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 2,685 metric tons.

By installing its own systems, Eaton has managed to reduce its own energy usage and so reduce its costs. A clear case of 'talk green, mean lean.' 

Gartner/WWF: ICT industry 'falling short' in making sustainability part of its 'core' business

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Next week, the Gartner research group is holding the European leg of its IT Symposium, which will feature four days of thinking on sustainability.

Coinciding with that event, the results are out of an assessment of 28 global information and communication technology (ICT) providers by Gartner and WWF Sweden which revealed that the ICT industry sees climate change and sustainability as an emerging opportunity. While it identified the emergence of a group of market makers, the industry as a whole fell short of making climate change and sustainability part of its core business.

"2009 and 2010 have seen rapid progress in the maturity of ICT vendors both in terms of their internal environmental programs, and the development of a set of low-carbon market offerings," said Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner. "We now have a clear group of market makers formed by BT, IBM, Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Fujitsu, and SAP who we believe are beginning to build a distinguishing capability. However, at this stage they have not really taken the issues associated with climate change and sustainability into the core of the business and their strategies, and they continue to deal with it within the mindset of incremental improvement and short-termism."

Gartner and WWF invited 28 global ICT providers to participate. Nineteen chose to participate by providing the required information. Those companies include: Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent, BT, CSC, Cisco, Dell, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, SAP, Sun Microsystems, TCS, Verizon, Wipro and Xerox.

The survey, the second of its kind, examined ICT providers' commitment to managing the environmental aspects of their internal operations and their supply chain. Very importantly, it also explored their capabilities in advancing the low-carbon solutions markets and developing products and services that will help them and their customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or increase their energy efficiency.

"The good news is that we don't see anyone going backwards," said Mingay. "But, across every category, there are clearly a group who are on the move and a group who seem to be treading water relatively." IBM, Fujitsu, HP, Cisco and BT ranked in the top five positions, while others such as Verizon and Lenovo did not score particularly well, and held the No. 19 and No. 17 spots, respectively. Mingay said Microsoft, ranked in the No. 13 position overall, is making reasonable progress, from a relatively weak starting point.

The survey revealed that service and software providers have improved their position from 2008, but remain relatively immature in terms of both their internal programs, as well as their market offerings. SAP, ranked No. 8 overall, did substantially better than any of the other large software and services organisations. SAP has put sustainability at the heart of its communications and closer to its strategy over the last 18 months. The survey also found that Fujitsu, ranked No. 2, is the only ICT provider to set a long-term context to its initiatives, and want to help reduce more emissions in society through low carbon IT solutions than their own emissions. Fujitsu has set itself a carbon reduction goal in terms of its impact on its customers versus a target related to their own emissions. Finally, ICT providers in Asia (not Japan) are still lagging overall, but making some dramatic improvements, which Gartner analysts anticipate will continue.

The dominance of talking in 2008, when Gartner and WWF Sweden completed their first assessment has evolved into much more action in 2009 and 2010. "We now have a number of ICT providers with an actual low carbon portfolio and a readiness to move from an incremental contribution into the center stage when it comes to providing society with low carbon solutions," said Magnus Emfel, director of Climate Program, WWF Sweden. "It is precisely this shift -- from ICT as a minor contributor to global emissions to a major enabler of low-carbon solutions -- that we need to see replicated in business strategies and urban planning, if we are to succeed in the transition to a low carbon economy and stabilize the climate."

The survey also found that inter-industry partnerships are starting to emerge, particularly from ICT providers including Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and IBM. This is a very significant and important step in ICT's ability to develop commercially viable solutions for a low-carbon economy, particularly around smart grid, intelligent buildings and smart city infrastructures.

When looking at ICT's own impact, and the focus on the 2 percent of ICT's global CO2 emissions, it has become evident that hardware vendors, such as HP, Ericsson and Fujitsu are increasingly focused on the energy efficiency of their equipment and making it a core business, while for software and services organisations this is not the case. Very few vendors are thinking about dematerialisation in any real systematic way, though Xerox is one of the few exceptions that is reusing and recycling parts.

Collectively the ICT industry has enhanced its game in terms of providing solutions in other areas, e.g. transport and buildings, to help reduce the 98 percent of global CO2 emissions that are not generated by ICT, but that can be reduced with the help of smart ICT.

"Although the leaders in the Carbon Delivery sections such as IBM, Fujitsu, HP, BT, Ericsson and Cisco have begun to build structural capabilities, governance, and allocated organisational resources to addressing the opportunities of a low-carbon economy, their commitment still falls short of being integrated into their core business," Mingay said.

Gartner's client interactions and analysis of the survey suggests this is due to a lack of spending on low-carbon and sustainability-related solutions by the public and private sectors, except in the area of smart grids, but also to the ICT sector's conservative approach built on incremental changes in existing technologies and capacity.

"We were surprised at the lack of disruptive innovation, with the majority of responses essentially focused on the incremental 'client-driven' development," said Dennis Pamlin, co-author and independent consultant working for WWF Sweden on this project. "If the ICT industry is to deliver on its promise of making a significant contribution to enabling a transformation to a low-carbon economy it is going to require substantially more than marginal incrementalism."

"No one is making any serious effort to extend the life of equipment beyond the basics one would expect of improving reliability and quality," said Mingay. "But, with the management of e-waste and rare earth metals rapidly turning into a substantial global challenge and the growth of emerging markets the industry needs to be giving much more serious thought to dematerialisation, recycling and longevity."

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