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Earth Day: Tech bigwigs share how they’re taking care of the planet

By Ashton Young
Mon 23 Apr 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Earth Day 2018 is to be celebrated on Sunday the 22nd April this year.

The day’s origins lie in protests nearly 48 years ago in 1970 when millions of people took to the streets to object to the harmful impact of 150 years of industrial development.

A rising population has increased the demand for earth’s resources, with the damage to our planet now at a more critical point than ever before. There is an estimated one billion people participating in what is the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

So, what does this mean for the tech industry? Given its rampant growth and despite best efforts to use renewable energy sources, it is still a resource-hungry business. In fact a recent Greenpeace report found if cloud computing were a country, it would be sixth in the world based on how much electricity it uses.

In light of this, five industry experts have opened their doors to reveal what their organisations are doing to give back to the community and minimise environmental damage.

Commvault CMO Chris Powell believes it is important to partner with organisations that are working to protect the environment.

“On Earth Day 2018 we should all be thinking about protecting the natural world and combatting climate change - activists and tech companies alike. At the turn of the year, Robert Swan, founder of the 2041 Foundation, gathered a group of explorers (of which I was one), to take part in the South Pole Energy Challenge – the first ever mission to the South Pole that entirely relied on ‘clean energy'.

The expedition itself was a success, however, the 2041 Foundation would not have been able to continue to raise global awareness around climate change, if it were not for the data it collected during the mission. GPS, temperature, video footage, images; all of this data was vital to the success of the challenge.

And, it is data that continues to hold the key to the long-term, successful pursuit of the 2041 Foundation’s core mission to combat climate change. Technology companies who are willing to partner with organisations like the 2041 Foundation and others doing similar work, are, in their own way, contributing to a globally important narrative that started with the heroic polar expeditions of Scott and Amundsen back in the early 1900s, and will hopefully continue long after 2041.”

Six Degrees head of colocation Tim Arnold recommends that organisations join programmes such as the European Code of Conduct for Data Center Energy Efficiency in order to reduce their environmental impact.

"We're constantly being made aware of the impact our human actions have on nature and the planet. The IT sector is a contributing factor. Specifically, it is estimated that data centers have a faster growing carbon footprint than any other area of the IT sector, which as a whole generates up to 2 percent of global CO2 emissions.

In response, the European Code of Conduct for Data Center Energy Efficiency programme was established in 2008 to improve understanding and awareness of energy demand within data centers, and recommend energy efficient best practices and targets.

As a member of this programme since 2016, we are committed to reducing the environmental impact created by our data centers and aspire to lead the charge for other data center owners to make this a priority. So this World Earth Day, step back and look at the wider picture – at Six Degrees, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of protecting our planet.”

Puppet VP EMEA Marianne Calder believes the key is to create and promote internal initiatives that strive to protect the planet and wider community.

“At Puppet, we strongly believe that it is essential to look at the bigger picture. By taking part and hosting a variety of activities that support the wider community and environment, the team is brought together in support of one unifying cause – taking care of the world we live in and making it greater for generations to come.

This year, on April 22nd, many of our team members in EMEA will be focused on how to #EndPlasticPolution. Extending this ethos, there are always steps that can be taken when striving to give something back to the community, no matter how fast and in which part of the world we, as a company, grow.

Whether this be done through volunteering, fundraising or organising an event, Puppet offers all employees paid time for charitable activities and fundraising events that take place outside of the office.”

Skillsoft EMEA managing director Steve Wainwright says significant environmental improvements can be achieved through a paperless office.

“A good eLearning programme – as well as boosting your organisation’s productivity – can have a positive impact on your organisation’s carbon footprint. Online resources significantly cut down on the amount of paper used in a learning programme.

Classroom based-training, on the other hand, tends to rely on handouts and quizzes that use up a lot of paper. According to research conducted by Kyocera, the average office worker in the UK uses up to 45 pieces of paper per day, and a staggering two-thirds of that is considered waste.

Striving to create a paperless office is one of the most eco-friendly tactics an organisation can use to help the environment, and learning programmes are a great place to start."

Cradlepoint VP EMEA Hubert Da Costa asserts that as a society we should be looking at the potential for environmental improvement through advancements in connectivity.

"Whilst a regular smart home might have a number of devices connected to the network across a relatively small space, by extending this across an entire city, or even an entire county, a huge wireless network of connected things could reach levels of efficiency, cost-effectiveness and convenience that are virtually limitless.

For example, Gartner claims that smart lighting can reduce energy consumption by 90 percent. Connected streetlights acting as information networks around towns and cities will soon form a backbone of connectivity for other smart city services.

These will update parking maps and guide traffic patterns in real time, minimising the impact of traffic and pollution. Environmental departments will have access to real-time readings of pollution levels and wildlife counts, and the ability to remotely collect and analyse water samples and predict usage patterns.

By connecting sensors and devices to wireless networks, public services have a greater level of control and a more in-depth method of data collection than ever before. This efficiency is rapidly generating a smarter, greener and more efficient world. With the advances in connectivity, the potential for continued improvement is huge."

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