From energy efficiency to corporate sustainability
by Ian Dixon.
Driven by the European Commission, companies from across different sectors are required to measure their corporate footprint. The main objective of this drive is to push environmental management and the reduction of CO2 emissions, so corporate sustainability becomes part of the DNA of European companies. Corporate sustainability is not only an operational issue; it has become a relevant for the wider management team given its impact both environmentally and to stakeholders in society. This topic is now associated to other key areas of decision making within the company, including budgeting, management, infrastructure investments and organisational priorities. Environmental management needs be integrated into all areas of business. This will ensure that the entire organisation is striving towards a more socially responsible performance. In the past sustainability may have been seen as just a ‘nice to do’, however in recent times many companies recognise the positive impact on the brand as a key advantage of such a programme. With electricity consumption by Europe’s data centres projected to reach 104,000 GWh (104 TWh) by 20201, up from 60 TWh at present, there is a pressing demand within the industry for greater energy efficiencies to minimise both carbon footprint and energy consumption. Energy efficiency is a key part of any environmental management programme. Waste management or the reduction of C02 emissions, accompanied by tasks aimed at maintaining ISO 14001 certification, can help a company become more energy efficient and therefore, provided that the energy source the company is using is as low-carbon intensive as possible, more sustainable. At Colt we have held the ISO 14001 certification since 2010. This internationally recognised standard assesses the effectiveness of the Environmental Management System (EMS) of the company, measuring the relationship between business performance and reducing environmental impact – a major challenge for any large, medium and small business. Contrary to common belief, the implementation of programmes to improve energy efficiency doesn’t need to bring additional costs. Our experience tells us that with small and simple measures, you can get measurable improvements in the energy efficiency of your data centre facilities. In our experience, this can be achieved in a period not exceeding 18 months and in just 12 steps. Thanks to our comprehensive energy efficiency programme, we reduced the energy consumption of our data centers by 19% between 2010 and 2013, the equivalent of 47 gigawatt hours ( GWh ). This generated a saving of 4.4 million euros per year in electricity costs and a reduction of 16,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. According to our calculations, an initial reduction of 5% (TWh) in the energy consumption of the data centre industry would lead to a reduction of the equivalent to 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 . This is the same amount of electricity consumed by 740,000 households – 3.5 times the number of households in the City of Manchester. Definitely worth the effort! Colt is trying to contribute to this drive to reduce energy consumption in the industry by following its own guidelines to ensure sustainability in all operations, leading to increased energy efficiency. These included initiatives for enhanced airflow management, more accurate measurement systems and tighter tolerance bands for cooling air temperature and humidity. We’ve moved from talking solely about Social Responsibility, commonly associated with tactical measures instead of tackling industry issues, to Corporate Sustainability, which impacts every aspect of the organisation from top to bottom. This concept is strongly linked to the reduction of emissions and achieving energy efficiency. The role of companies in managing their impact on the environment is no longer merely philanthropic; it has become a strategic pillar of management.
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