From education to employment

Earth Day 2023: Corporate Actions Carry a Heavy Weight

person holding globe with plant coming out of it

Since its inception, Earth Day, which falls on the 22nd of April, has raised awareness of the challenges the world faces regarding climate change, and how communities and corporations can enact meaningful change. 

With that in mind, we spoke to business leaders to get their practical tips on how workplaces can be more sustainable, and learn what resources are available today. 

Reach for the cloud(s)

One of the biggest contributions to carbon emissions is data storage. Data centres require a huge amount of power to run – consuming a considerable amount of energy. Eric Bassier, Senior Director of Products at Quantum, suggests that organisations should consider cloud storage which uses drastically less power. “Moving towards sustainable data solutions offers a win-win scenario where companies can improve their storage performance while reducing their energy usage and carbon footprint. This represents a significant step forward in meeting their ESG goals while also addressing the challenges of managing growing data sets,” he explains. 

“ESG goals are also one of the many reasons behind the rapid adoption of cloud technologies,” adds Terry Storrar, Managing Director of LeaseWeb UK. “Not only does this technology offer energy-efficient alternatives to traditional on-premise equipment, but cloud services offer versatility, agility, and cost-effectiveness. “One study found that the energy footprint of moving applications to the cloud could be reduced by nearly 90%. Although there is still a long, complex path ahead, cloud is enabling a complete rethink of IT infrastructure design and the power requirements behind these that will make a measurable difference”.

“Advice on how individuals can help limit climate change is readily available. “But how do businesses make sure they are operating in the most environmentally friendly way?,” asks Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla

“At Aqilla, everything we do relates back to our environmental impact. Through the delivery and support of our cloud-based product, we have promoted mobile working for over a decade. Through the delivery and support of our cloud-based product, we have promoted mobile working for over a decade. For times when it is necessary to be in the office or travel to different locations, we encourage the use of public transport. 

“Our partners’ environmental policies are also key,” he adds. “For example, we store our data with Amazon, which has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

“The changes that need to be made aren’t always obvious or easy, but Earth Day offers a chance to support and inspire each other and consider what switches we could all make to protect this planet that we call home.”

A Greener Journey via Public Transportation

As climate records continue to mount, sustainability has a key role to play in humanity’s future. However, making a sustainable vision a reality is easier said than done. 

“This is particularly the case for transportation, where journeys are affected by economic concerns, such as demand, cost and maintenance,” explains Krishna Desai, Senior Global Marketing Manager at Cubic Transportation Systems. She believes that investment in transport infrastructure is the way forward. 

“Top of the priority list should be making public transport more accessible and easy to use. A recent report from the TUC argues that radical investment in public transport would help cut car use by 20%, unlock a £50bn annual boost to the economy, and generate 140,000 direct jobs in public transport. 

“Benefitting from this requires investing in the right technology and infrastructure. Account-based ticketing (ABT), for example, enables transit users to know if they’ll be charged the best fare for that day, week and month, making payments more equitable and easy to use.” 

Intellias’s VP of Technology, Oleksandr Maidaniuk, adds that technologies such as IoT and AI hold great promise to help humanity move towards a more sustainable future, whilst presenting opportunities to mitigate the effects of climate change. “We are all now very aware of how these technologies can reshape industries and accelerate businesses to new levels, but now is the time to think of how they can contribute to developing more sustainable solutions for our future too. 

“By applying AI and IoT to natural resources, businesses can create tools to dynamically monitor pollution, identify its sources, and prevent hazardous situations. For instance, smart sensors can notify employees about poor air quality levels and alert them about technical problems like gas leaks.

“Another environmental application of AI and IoT is to reduce vehicle emissions. Some cities have already started taking advantage of AI to manage traffic lights and better control traffic flows. For instance, Surtrac smart traffic light software has helped to reduce travel times by 25%, braking by 30%, and idling by 40%.”

Totalmobile’s Managing Director of Public Sector, Chris Hornung, emphasises the importance of making meaningful changes and moving quickly. “Marginally improving old methods will do little to achieve new ESG goals; the only way to radically improve is to radically rethink. For example, when it comes to the widespread introduction of e-vehicles, organisations that rely on large fleets of vans will have to reinvent their operating model in order to adopt new technologies that can drive the necessary transformation.” 

“A good start here would be utilising scheduling software that can help plan routes more efficiently while factoring in charging points and charging times.”

Forward thinkers open greener doors 

In a difficult economic climate, balancing sustainability with business needs can be a struggle for many – and the retail sector is no exception. Rob Shaw, SVP Global Sales at Fluent Commerce, highlights how today’s consumers value sustainability. “Whilst the cost of living crisis is influencing spending habits, the environment remains important to UK consumers, with 65% still prioritising sustainability when shopping. Businesses must find a way to provide convenient and fast shopping experiences whilst keeping costs low – and achieve that in a sustainable way.

“Technology offers some of the obvious solutions. Investing in the latest order management software for example allows retailers to ensure they have an accurate forecast of demand, and can buy or manufacture the correct amount of stock in order to avoid waste.

“It will also enable them to ensure the delivery process is as efficient as possible. For example, it can make it easy to group products together to avoid multiple trips, or to ensure that products are sent from the closest distribution centre reducing miles in transit.”

Green Skills in the Workplace 

There’s huge pressure for organisations to be more sustainable; in fact, recent Skillsoft research found that 72% of working professionals say corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become more important to their organisations since the pandemic.

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, Chief Sustainability Officer at Skillsoft, believes that the future is in training staff to be more environmentally conscious. “Digital learning is key to raising awareness about climate change and equipping workforces with the skills needed to be “greener” in their operations. 

“With this in mind, business leaders should ensure that employees can continually build upon sustainability skills throughout their careers through the latest training programmes and ever-evolving learning technology. Doing so creates an effective — and sustainable — workforce designed to keep up with new green-related roles. At Skillsoft, we’ve seen the number of new learners acquiring green skills increase by 60% year-over-year (YoY); and learners have collectively spent 115% more hours on sustainability skilling over just the past year.”

This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in our Planet” – shifting development in technology down a greener path can radically change how we all live, work, and think. It is time to lead change, make this day count, and allow it to be a reminder to meaningfully act from this day forward.

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