Professionals across the board are now starting to see the importance of environmental action and are moving towards more sustainability measures, according to a new study.
In a study carried out by technological research and consulting firm Gartner, it was found that 87% of business leaders are aiming to increase their company’s sustainability measures during the next few years.
Gartner predicts that by 2026, 75% of organisations will increase business with IT vendors that have demonstrable sustainability goals and will seek to replace vendors that do not. However, this is only a starting point, organisations need to use technology to turn long-term ambitions for sustainability into practical steps forward.
Athina Kanioura, chief strategy and transformation officer at PepsiCo, says that establishing a strategy and a set of priorities is a critical first step to delivering sustainability. Many organisations will already have long-term goals in place for delivering environmental benefits and a sense of how technology might help reduce carbon emissions.
Delivering these bigger environmental aims will mean creating a set of mini objectives for people across the IT department and out into the business. But if deadlines and working relationships aren’t established effectively at the beginning, targets will be missed, and effort will be wasted.
“You can get lost in the details with sustainability,” she says. “You must think of the bigger picture. Start with your long-term commitments and work backwards”. Kanioura advises other professionals to create a prioritisation framework, which maps all the things the team will need to focus on along the way.
“Think of whatever your company has to deliver between now and 2030,” she says. “I use a prioritisation framework for everything. It shows your ability to deliver, the complexity you’ll need to deliver, and the potential financial impact.”
With the framework in place, split the work into manageable chunks. And if your target is the end of the decade, don’t be scared about delivering early. “You might do the math and realise that it will take approximately five years to complete the work. If we have a 2030 target, we’re not waiting to start until 2025 — we’re starting this year,” she says.
“But be realistic about the effort that it takes to deliver those commitments and split it into chunks, so the work doesn’t become overwhelming. Otherwise, everything can become extremely costly.”
Produce long-term benefits
Andrew Briggs, strategic manager for sustainability and green infrastructure at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, says a reduction in carbon emissions involves an integrated approach.
The council collaborated with manufacturing company Siemens in April 2017 and the two organisations have worked on a series of energy-saving projects that are helping to cut emissions and reduce costs.
“We spent quite a bit of time talking about what the future might look like and trying to build some proposals that were based on understanding the implications going forward,” he says. “So, there was a lot of time spent upfront and then we started to think very carefully about how we program those things together.”
The council has invested £6.24 million in the initiative so far, which includes a £4.34 million grant from the UK’s Public Sector Decarbonization Scheme, council funding, and private sector investment.
The projects across 11 public buildings in the city have reduced annual CO2 emissions by 1,415 tons and saved the council £628,258 per year in energy costs. Overall power consumption has decreased by 4,07,272 kWh, while gas consumption has fallen by 2,864,974 kWh.
Briggs says any attempt to make sustainability work is a long-term game — and the council continues to search for ways to improve energy performance and reduce carbon emissions.
“What we want to do is go back and look at all of the other buildings and other assets that we’ve got,” he says. “We’ll take another look at all our buildings in the context of a world that is another five years or so on from when we started this work.”
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