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Durban conference showcases key role of ICT in climate change policies

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There will be lots written this week about the United Nations conference on Climate Change taking place this week in Durban.

Already the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), together with a coalition of industry partners, has said it will be using the Durban COP 17 conference to promote ICT technologies as the 21st century's most valuable problem-solving tools. ITU believes it is imperative that they be included as an integral part of global climate change policy.

 

The coalition's message is simple: ICTs such as smart grids, intelligent transport systems and the so-called 'Internet of Things' have extraordinary potential to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of other high energy-consuming industry sectors, and must be included in any meaningful climate change policies at the global, regional and national level. To prove its point, the coalition will be showcasing how the ICT industry is using technology to reduce its own carbon footprint.

During the 10-day conference, the coalition says it will undertake a number of initiatives to get the message across, including two new ITU reports showing how ICTs have helped Ghana mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

With climate change and Durban in mind this week, though I suspect not as high profile as it has been previously, I liked this blog written by Colin Curtis, director of sustainability at Dimemsion Data, who discusses how the company's own IT department has performed in reducing the organisation's carbon footprint, notably through virtualisation.


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CRC league table now expected in November

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I hear that the league table associated with the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme is now likely to be published in November.

This blog post on Local Energy suggests that a November date is expected. That could mean the table will be out next week or alternatively, it may still be a month away.

Local Energy quoted Carl Sweeney the Operations Manager of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme at the Environment Agency, saying:

"At this time, we anticipate that the PLT will be published in November. We have agreed with DECC that we will notify participants of the publication date one week before release. There is much ongoing work in the background to review and produce the PLT as accurate as possible, so at this stage I can't be more specific as something unexpected could delay us."

Third parties familiar with the situation say that the Environment Agency is getting 'a lot of calls' on when the table will be published. 

What does the league table mean? The Carbon Trust puts it like this:

"A publicly available CRC performance league table will show how each participant is performing compared to others in the scheme. If your organisation is a good carbon performer, the league table will help give a significant boost to your organisation's reputation, demonstrating its success in cutting emissions. Please note, however, that because of the changes announced in October 2010, there is likely to be no direct financial benefit under the CRC from an improved position in the league table.Your organisation's league table position each year will be determined by performance in three metrics:

  • Early action metric: 50% of your score is based on what percentage of your organisation's electricity and gas supplies is covered by voluntary automatic meter readings (AMR) in the year to 31 March 2011. The other half is based on the proportion of your CRC emissions certified under the Carbon Trust Standard or an equivalent scheme. Visit www.carbontruststandard.com to find out about achieving the Carbon Trust Standard.
  • Absolute metric: The percentage change in your organisation's emissions, compared to the average of the previous five years (or number of years available until 2014/15).
  • Growth metric: the percentage change in emissions per unit turnover, compared to the average of the previous five years (or number of years available until 2014/15).

The weighting of these three metrics will change over time. In the first year, early action will count for 100% of your organisation's league table score. Over the first few years of the scheme, the early action metric will gradually fade in importance until the absolute and growth metrics receive 75% and 25% weightings respectively in 2014/15 and thereafter.

As the Carbon Trust points out, if an organisation is a good carbon performer, the league table will boost its reputation, though there will be no direct financial benefit under the CRC from an improved position in the league table.

However, when the results come out, you can well imagine a few marketing departments either keen to trumpet their organisation's performance or, conversely, trying to shore up their company's 'green' reputation.

What it means in terms of best practice for CIOs we'll probably have to see what results the league table brings.

 

What Sustainability should learn from Steve Jobs

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I liked this blog post from Andrew Winston entitled 'What Sustainability should learn from Steve Jobs.'

Winston, who writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review argues that before the iPad was introduced,  many were asking why you'd need a tablet computer. Steve Jobs, he says, made us want one.

Winston suggests that most large companies today are "fast followers" -  but second place is nowhere in the tablet computer space.

"Fiscal and strategic conservatism breeds a culture where execs prefer to wait and talk to customers before doing anything drastic. Of course customer (and other stakeholder) perspectives are critical. But as with tablet computers, when it comes to sustainability, often the customers don't really know what they need.

"Companies often gather data on what their business customers think a sustainable product should be, and the survey might show that including recycled material is important, even if that's a tiny part of the real footprint story. Nobody knows the value chain of your product and service as well as you do (or if someone else does, get them in the room pronto). So figure out where the impacts really lie and what you can do to reduce your customer's footprint in ways they hadn't considered. This might require asking heretical questions about whether the product should even exist in its current form or should be converted into more of a service." 

Winston believes the next generation's Steve Jobs is likely to focus on sustainability since that's where the largest challenges and business opportunities lie. Worth a read.

Carbon Trust launches footprint verification service

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The Carbon Trust has launched a new service to provide companies and organisations with independent verification of their corporate carbon footprints.

The Footprint Verification service is intended to help companies and organisations manage the increasing demand for carbon emissions data in CSR & annual reports and websites, as well as to support the disclosure of emissions to third party stakeholders, including shareholders and investors. 

Organisations that use the service will be able to display a Footprint Verification logo in conjunction with the carbon footprint data, showing that their emissions have been independently verified. The Trust says that the verified carbon footprint provided is compliant with both the internationally recognised GHG Protocol, as well as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

The new service follows new findings from the Carbon Trust that 50% of multinationals will look set to select their suppliers based upon carbon performance in the future.

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.

Links:

Events: http://www.kyoceramita.co.uk/index/events.html

MDS in the public sector http://www.kyoceramita.co.uk/index/mds/mds_in_the_public.html

RSA case study http://www.kyoceramita.co.uk/index/products/happy_customer_stories/happy_customer_stories_detail.L3ByaW50ZXJfbXVsdGlmdW5jdGlvbmFscy9jYXNlc3R1ZHkvbGVhZGluZ19pbnN1cmVyX3JzYQ~~.html

For the full results of latest independent research into printing attitudes and behaviour, email Tracey: trc@kyoceramita.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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