Are businesses accountable enough for their IT emissions?

Feb 19, 2019

In recent years it has become impossible to ignore the importance of sustainability reports, as businesses are increasingly held accountable for their values and behaviour. Climate change, and the number of worldwide policy measures and agreements to address it, is also accelerating the urgency for climate action by everyone in the global economy.

Bästa hållbarhetsrapporter 2016

(Picture: The best sustainability reports in Sweden in 2016, according to magazine "Aktuell Hållbarhet")

The European Commission recently reported that providing quality climate-related information to company stakeholders leads to increased awareness and understanding of climate-related risks, better risk management, and more informed strategic planning. It stated that good climate-related disclosure that reflects strong governance and strategy can contribute to securing a lower cost of capital and a more diverse investor base.

One of the challenges in sustainability is that it can be difficult to quantify the entire environmental impact of a business. You can focus on your own operations, but a company’s environmental footprint extends to products and services not necessarily under its control. Significant areas such as IT are often overlooked, despite it having a high impact. The fact that many companies outsource operations such as data center management adds to the complexity of sustainability reporting.

However, there are many ways of ensuring that your IT operations aren’t having a negative impact on your green credentials or costing you more than it should. Partnering with suppliers that use renewable energy is a good place to start, and those that run with a low power usage effectiveness (PUE) will use that energy more efficiently.

Data centers require a lot of energy for cooling as servers emit a lot of heat, but most businesses and data centers do nothing with the energy that’s created. It is simply released into the environment, creating a ‘heat island’ and changing the immediate environment. This is a wasted opportunity, environmentally and financially.

It is possible to re-use the heat that a data center creates, so that it has an overall climate-positive footprint. The heat produced can be supplied to a nearby third-party, such as a factory or energy plant, taking away its reliance on fossil fuels and eliminating tonnes of emissions.

With 100% operational safety and 100% uptime now being delivered from climate-positive data centers, this creates superior services that are more cost-effective and energy efficient, which is good for the planet and for your business’s bottom line 

In a recent report from the Centre of Sustainability and Excellence, one of the sustainability trends for European companies in 2019 is a goal to expand the reach of their sustainability strategies to business partners. While compiling a sustainability report is second nature for many, it’s clear that there is still a long way to go to ensure sustainability reports are a true reflection of a company’s decisions and behaviour. Properly understanding what a business produces today, makes it easier to design a strategy to reduce emissions in the future.

To find out if your data center operations could be greener read our new sustainability whitepaper:

Download our e-guide: Could your data center operations be greener?