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Hard copies means hard choices: why low carbon thinking means ITTs for printers must change

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In this guest blog, Tracey Rawling Church, Director of Brand and Reputation at Kyocera Mita UK explains why the public sector must stop buying printers

Hard Copies Mean Hard Choices

To cut its costs and carbon emissions, the public sector should stop buying printers.

That may seem a ridiculous statement, coming from an imaging company executive, but actually there's a serious point here. Most ITTs are written around a notional product - calling for a certain number of machines of a certain specification. And the tender process is quite rigid, so companies invited to tender are forced to propose a solution that fits the criteria in the ITT. But in many organisations, the number of devices has crept up over time and device to user ratios are unnecessarily high - so replacing machines on a one-for-one basis only perpetuates a system that has become bloated and inefficient.

Sometimes the decision is made to consolidate devices, replacing desktop printers with shared multifunctional devices and an ITT is written on that basis, but to achieve real efficiencies that could reduce costs by typically 30% and carbon by as much as half, a detailed print audit should be undertaken to determine precisely what hardware is needed at which locations to support business processes.

However, even this approach misses the opportunity to obtain a solution that is properly optimised not just at the point of implementation, but into the future.

In the private sector, there is a growing trend towards managed document services, a holistic approach that encompasses every aspect of the printing and imaging needs of an organisation. A managed document service project begins with a detailed audit of both the machines currently in place and the document flows through and within the organisation. Then a solution is designed that aims to reduce reliance on hard copy by combining document management software with a fleet of machines that have exactly the right functionality to support the document flow.

In most cases, this results in a much smaller number of devices, usually with more extensive functionality than those they replace. A bespoke service contract is crafted that includes remote monitoring of device states, service support to agreed service levels and detailed reporting of device use that can be segmented and analysed in a myriad of ways. And using the business intelligence gained from the reporting suite, the service can be continuously optimised to ensure it remains efficient, accommodating changes in the organisation over time.

For example, the managed document solution provided for insurance giant RSA has reduced paper consumption by 21% in just one year - despite the fact that their product depends on having a printed certificate. And energy consumed by imaging devices has been reduced by 55% with resulting savings in both electricity costs and CRC levies.

As you can imagine, this type of service doesn't fit easily into a device-centric ITT. So vendors who know they could save cash and carbon through applying a managed document service are forced to respond with a 'round peg, square hole' solution that is less than ideal, simply because the tender process focuses on products rather than outcomes. Concerns about carbon emissions and resource scarcity are driving the evolution of innovative business models that overturn conventional norms and challenge the status quo. But unless procurement processes keep pace with these changes, the benefits of this fresh thinking won't be realised.

To really drive through change, let's have ITTs written by commercial managers and procurement departments that focus on objectives and targets rather than feeds and speeds. Throw down a challenge to reduce paper consumption by x, cut energy use by y% and drive down costs by z and see what the industry comes up with. I guarantee it will deliver solutions that are more resource efficient, productive and economical.



MDS in the public sector

RSA case study

For the full results of latest independent research into printing attitudes and behaviour, email Tracey:






Green policy wranglings begin to emerge within government

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It seems as if with the party conference season not far off, a row is brewing over the government's energy policy, which may have some implications down the line as far as business energy costs and climate change legislation are concerned.

It follows a leak to the Daily Telegraph of a note to David Cameron  discussing the impact of energy and climate change policies on energy prices, Although the focus of the letter is on consumer energy prices, it is possible that a wider review may also need to examine the effect of government policies in the form of climate change legislation on businesses.

The letter suggests that four policies stand out as having the most significant impact on household energy bills: carbon pricing (both our own carbon price floor and the EU emissions trading scheme), the new Energy Company Obligation, the Electricity Market Reform package and the Renewables Obligation. It goes on to ask whether policies can be opened up, particularly support for relatively high-cost technologies such as offshore wind, in a way that minimises cost and disruption to investment.

There is some more background to the story here:




Cabinet agrees Climate Change 'Green Deal' - UK 'world leader' in cutting carbon emissions

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The Coalition is expected to announce this week that it has agreed a far-reaching, legally binding "green deal" that will commit the UK to two decades of drastic cuts in carbon emissions. The package, reported last weekend in The Observer, will, it is claimed, place Britain at the forefront of the global battle against climate change.

Huhne is now expected to tell parliament that the government will accept the recommendations of the independent committee on climate change for a new carbon budget. The deal puts the UK ahead of any other state in terms of the legal commitments it is making in the battle to curb greenhouse gases.

The new budget puts the government on target to meet a reduction by 2050 of 80% of carbon emissions compared with 1990 levels. The committee has said that to reach this target, carbon emissions should be cut by 60% by 2030.

The article says ministers believe that major companies involved in developing offshore wind technology - such as Siemens, Vestas and General Electric - will now be keener to invest in Britain, knowing it is committed to a huge expansion in renewable energy. It is also hoped that the commitment to renewable energy - the committee says 40% of the UK's power should come from wind, wave and tide sources by 2030 - will stimulate new industries.

These would include the development of tidal power plants, wave generators and carbon capture and storage technology - which would extract carbon dioxide from coal and oil plants and pump it into underground chambers. All three technologies, if developed in Britain, could be major currency earners.

The committee's report says the new carbon deal will require that heat pumps will have had to be installed in 2.6m homes by 2025. It also says that by the same date 31% of new cars, and 14% of those on the road overall, will be electric. Experts say a total of £16bn of investment will be needed every year to meet the commitment, with some of the money likely to be raised through increases in electricity prices.

Greening the Government's new ICT strategy

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The government's new ICT strategy has generated plenty of comment, notably in Computer Weekly and by Socitm in the Guardian discussing the perceived lack of local government focus in the strategy.

Another key ares of interest is in the government's approach to Green IT encompassed by the strategy.

There are three areas specifically covered in the strategy: green ICT standards, a greening government ICT approach, and data centre reductions. The relevant paragraphs in the ICT plan say the following:

  • Green ICT standards that are pivotal to the delivery of improved cost efficiencies will also be factored into the design, delivery and disposal of ICT solutions


  • The Government will publish a Greening Government ICT strategy in line with the Government ICT Strategy and wider carbon reduction policies. This will set out how government will achieve reductions in operational costs and carbon footprints, and will include the use of collaboration and mobile working technologies


  • To reduce the cost and carbon footprint of government ICT, the Government will set up a programme to reduce the cost of data centres across the estate, leading to a 35% reduction in costs over five years

Summing up what the Budget means for 'Greentech'

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I was talking to a company the other day that has an interest in the Climate Reduction Commitment (CRC) legislation and while we didn't expect any major changes relating to CRC in the Budget, there was a feeling of 'you never know'.

The devil is still in the detail, and more may emerge over the coming days. But it seems there are no changes to CRC announced by George Osborne.

Those 'green' issues that were covered have been well summed up by the Guardian here


Coalition Government releases Draft Carbon Plan

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The Government has launched a Carbon Plan, effectively a Government-wide plan of action on climate change, including domestic and international activity, which sets out department by department, actions and deadlines for the next 5 years.

The Plan is available here. It represents ongoing and planned cross-Government action on climate change with specific deadlines providing for both internal accountability and public transparency. Quarterly updates on progress against actions within the Plan will be published on the No.10 website.

The Plan sets out what has to happen and by when if the Government is to live up to its green ambitions, meet tough domestic carbon targets and encourage greater action internationally. It is focused on the jobs and economic opportunities of the low carbon economy and on policies that will help insulate Britain from future energy price shocks.

The final version of the Carbon Plan will be published in the autumn, and will be updated annually. Reports last weekend had  suggested that the government wants to take steps - possibly in the Budget on March 23rd -  to 'wean' the country off oil,  amid fears that the Libyan battle for power  has created uncertainty over fuel supplies, and left consumers  facing a further rise in fuel prices.

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. "Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources," he said. "The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world."

One of the options being mooted is a nationwide strategy to promote installation of infrastructure for electric cars by June. It is also expected that new deadlines will be set for building low-carbon homes, and that a firm starting date of September 2012 will be established for a new "green investment bank" to become fully operational.


China: potentially a leader in Cleantech?

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I've written here before on the rise of China as a green power. With this in mind, there's an interesting piece on the Tomorrow Today blog about China going green. By the end of the decade, asserts the blog, China will be the greenest nation in the world.

It is investing in a wide array of technologies, from novel power-transmission lines to advanced vehicle engines and batteries for electric cars. (though there's not much evidence yet, it appears, of a groundbreaking approach to 'Green IT'.) The piece, originally from Newsweek, is worth a read.

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.


Greening Government Procurement: should you use the Carrot or the Stick?

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I was interested in the Energy Collective blog which contrasted the Coalition encouragement for  green government spending methods with those operated by the US General Services Administration under a new plan, the GreenGov Supply Chain Partnership.

The piece points out that whereas the U.S. GSA approach on the surface appears collaborative and designed to create a robust procurement process, the downside is that progress is likely to be slow. i.e. the "carrot" approach.   

In contrast, the U.K. approach applies more of the "stick".  In both cases, transparency and collaboration are keys to success.  The blog suggests that the GSA approach is somewhat unnecessary and does little more than slow down the inevitable.  The GSA wants  to "design an incentive-based approach to developing contracting advantages". The implication then is, 'OK, do it, just like the British government did.' 

The blog goes on, 'Perhaps the U.K has been at this a while longer, though I doubt it.  Greening of the U.S. government has been in slow motion (almost glacial) progress since President Clinton signed Executive Order 13123 in 1999.  As I recently said, private industry needs to stop procrastinating on green supply chain management or risk losing customers.  Why delay the inevitable so you can get it just right.  Perhaps my message to the GSA and U.S. policy makers is to also stop procrastinating and (as they say in Texas) "git 'er done".'

Or as they say in Whitehall, "These are the rules. Follow them."


Scotland bids to attract Cleantech sector

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The economic potential offered by the Cleantech sector, not least in the jobs opportunity, is creating a number of national suitors, one of which is Scotland.


The Scottish Government published its Low Carbon Economy Strategy on 15 November, setting out the major opportunities for Scotland in the development of low carbon goods and services. The Strategy also sets out strategic opportunities and immediate actions for central and local government to support business in the transition towards a low carbon economy.

Scotland's low carbon market was worth around £8.5 billion in 2007-08 (within a GDP of around £100 billion), and is forecast to rise to around £12 billion by 2015-16. It is estimated around 60,000 new green jobs could be created in Scotland by 2020.


Launching the Strategy, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said that that moving to a low carbon economy was "Scotland's biggest opportunity this century" to create new jobs and grow the economy while tackling climate change.


Actions in the Strategy include:

·                       Co-ordinated support for businesses and academia in the Environmental and Clean Technologies sector, to maximise opportunities in a market potentially worth £12 billion to Scotland's economy

·                       Channelling innovation support to low carbon technologies where there is greatest chance of commercial success - the Scottish Government will reprioritise £15 million of innovation funding from the Lowlands and Uplands European Structural Funds Programme, which, along with match-funding from the private sector and other public sector funders, could create £60 million of support for low carbon activity

·                       Supporting the planning, design and construction of new infrastructure and the retrofit of existing facilities to support low carbon activity, such as renewable energy and electric vehicle infrastructure

·                       Supporting skills development through the Low Carbon Skills Fund and working with partners and employers to predict and respond to future skills demands

·                       Holding an annual Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, with next year's focus being investment for resource and energy efficiency


The Strategy makes clear that there are low carbon business opportunities not just in energy but across the economy, including: green tourism, green financial products, sustainable transport, building technologies, sustainable health, local sourcing of food and drink, and sustainable business practices.


With in mind the future economic opportunities to be created by what is essentially the birth of a new industry driven by a need to get to grips with climate change, it's no surprise that every country is upping the ante and wanting its slice of the Cleantech action. The UK Government believes the value of the global low-carbon goods and environmental services market will reach £4 trillion by the end of this Parliament. It is growing at 4% per year, faster than world GDP. It believes its share of that market is £112 billion. In the UK, it suggests, nearly a million people will be employed in the low-carbon sector by the end of the decade.


Getting there, however, is likely to take some time, and the reality is that there is unlikely to be a Fast Track route to Cleantech-created prosperity. That's not to say it won't happen - but it'll probably take longer than many governments would wish - or hope.


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