Gauteng Business News

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GREEN: Going Green Will Improve Your Bottom Line


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Environmental considerations, energy conservation and corporate sustainability have taken centre stage in the global business arena in recent years as ‘Going Green’ continues to catch on. Escalating energy prices are driving the sustainability agenda, amongst others such as global warming concerns to the forefront of organisational concerns. Business leaders are faced with increased pressure to respond to their customers’ demand for more services, better performance at lower costs. Compounding this issue, in many parts of the world, there is an electricity capacity shortfall, which is curbing growth. Many organisations are beginning to realise that adopting sustainable business practices is more than just a public relations opportunity, but can result in direct benefit to its triple bottom line, says IQ Business consultant, Priya Rowjee. “Sustainable practices can result in improved efficiencies, assist in cost optimisation and provide opportunities to increase growth,” Rowjee explains.

“As there is presently limited legislation and regulation around the reporting of sustainability, organisations are in a position to influence and direct policy regulation. As a result, sustainable business practices are likely to be driven by industry specific initiatives,” says Rowjee.
Consumers are also becoming more aware of their sustainability behaviour and hence organisations are being judged based on their sustainability behaviour. If organisations are not seen to be environmentally responsible it may lead to consumers moving their business to competitors who are perceived to be sustainable. Therefore, for organisations to remain competitive and profitable, they should ensure that sustainability is a key feature on their corporate agenda. Adopting sustainable practices will lead to the creation of financial value, increased operational efficiency and market differentiation.

New Going Green Ideas for Organisations

There are a number of innovative ideas that are being adopted organisation-wide to decrease carbon emissions and increase sustainability. For example, a quick-win initiative includes setting all printers to double-sided, black and white as the default. This results in a 30 – 35% reduction in printing expenses (paper usage and printer maintenance) and a resulting 500kg of carbon emissions per 100 reams of paper. A second quick-win initiative is the adoption of video conferencing, allowing two or more locations to interact via two-way video and audio transmission simultaneously; resulting in reduced travel expenses and carbon emissions. Technologies such as Skype and FaceTime (as available on the iPhone 4 and iPad) allow a cost effective solution to be easily deployed within the organisation to assist in the implementation of video conferencing. These initiatives can be implemented with minimal cost, however their savings can be used to market further innovative sustainability practices to the rest of the organisation, explains Rowjee.

A great example to achieve a sustainable office environment is witnessed in a South African mining organisation. The organisation has redesigned their office environment to increase the amount of natural light into the work-space through the retro-fitting of sky lights. The implementation of this sustainability practice resulted in a 75% reduction in their current lighting bill and they had reduced their lighting carbon emissions by 33 000kg per annum. The monetary saving achieved from this initiative was then donated as part of the overall sustainability programme in place within the organisation.

Facebook has entrenched sustainability practices throughout their organisation. With their core operation within the Information Technology (IT) environment, they have redesigned their data centre to a state of the art facility. The data centre, including the servers have been designed from the ground-up. Liquid cooling technology is used to cool the data centre and ensure that it is run at the optimal temperature. In addition, the heat generated from the data centre is redirected to heat the office environment during the winter months. As a result, the Facebook data centre has achieved a Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE [2]) rating of 1.07, which is World-class for data centres. As a result, Facebook has saved enough energy to power over 160 000 homes. Over and above this, Facebook has released the blueprints of this state of the art data centre onto the OpenCompute projects. Therefore, organisations can use these blueprints as a starting point when designing their own data centre.

Operational Efficiencies Gained from Going Green

As seen from these examples, the benefits achieved are more far reaching than the environmental gains alone. Operational efficiencies through cost reduction is a major driver towards more sustainable practices. Organisations can report on these initiatives and resulting savings as part of their annual reports, generating a further differentiation to shareholders. Organisations who adopt sustainable practices are achieving the benefits across their triple bottom line; and will be in a stronger position once regulation has been enforced, says Rowjee.

Sustainable practices should be adopted consistently across the organisation. This will ensure alignment to the organisation-wide strategy and will encourage employees take these practices back with them to their individual environments.

South Africa has committed to decrease its carbon footprint by 34% in 2020 and 42% by 2025. “The upcoming COP17 climate change conference to be held in Durban later this year is a good opportunity for South Africa to showcase its local innovative ‘going green’ technologies and for local businesses to join the move towards a more sustainable future,” Rowjee concludes.

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