Five key considerations for a technology company to be sustainable

Five key considerations for a technology company to be sustainable

Cesar Cernuda – President, NetApp, outlines some key considerations that are essential for organisations – particularly in the tech space – to achieve in order to deliver on their sustainability objectives.

We are in a time when terms such as technology, digitisation and sustainability are more united than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that smartly devised Digital Transformation strategies have been essential to alleviate the negative effects of this critical moment at the health, social and economic level. Technology has been the tool to achieve the reinvention of a multitude of businesses and has become the first line of battle against the unknown.

But today, almost every company across the globe, especially technology companies, have a new challenge to take on: sustainability. The world is taking leaps and bounds towards establishing real sustainability. Cities are no longer cities, but smart cities, interconnected and favour citizen participation. Low Emission Zones (LEZs) have been introduced as the automotive sector turns towards the hybridisation of its vehicles, while international organisations and institutions begin to legislate against highly polluting vehicles; companies from many sectors are beginning to create real and effective strategies to reduce their carbon footprint, etc. However, where are the technology companies?

It is estimated that the ICT sector will consume 8% of the world’s electricity in 2030, compared to 2% in 2020. Likewise, if we talk specifically about data storage, it is responsible for 10-15% of the energy consumption of data centres. On a positive note, by 2025, 49% of data will be stored in public cloud environments, as the main solution to digital waste and energy consumption. But it’s not enough. Tech companies need to do more to fight climate change and reduce emissions and carbon footprint.

Here are five key criteria that any company, especially technology companies, could assume to begin this sustainable transformation:

1. Decarbonisation strategy

To start with, and specifically in the data storage sector, it is essential to help clients migrate to the cloud. Cloud storage is designed to store data efficiently, consume less energy and reduce your carbon footprint. It is also very important to collaborate with cloud providers to further reduce carbon footprint directly associated with products and services. For this decarbonisation strategy to be truly effective, companies must monitor their own carbon footprint and the greenhouse gases they emit each year, with the aim of setting a goal and being able to achieve it.

2. Energy

In the energy sector, it is important that the facilities and offices are efficient and sustainable with the environment, through the use of renewable energy, advanced lighting technologies and the reduction of the total footprint of the buildings. It is key to deepen the design or modernisation of buildings, laboratories, data centres, offices, etc., to achieve the objectives in terms of energy efficiency.

3. Waste management

From a manufacturing point of view, the main goal should be to minimise the amount of material we send to landfills and recycling centres, opting for reusable containers. A longer-term goal should be to eliminate the use of non-recyclable materials from our packaging. It is also essential to consider electronic waste. Tech companies need to take a proactive approach to managing this type of waste, both for in-house operations and for customers and partners.

4. Water consumption

To reduce water consumption, for example in regards to air conditioning systems, instead of using water chillers, cooling units can be installed on the roofs of buildings powered by wind energy.

5. Design of sustainable products and services

Finally, to culminate with a sustainable transformation strategy, it is essential to implement this aspect in the company’s own business model, through the creation of products and services with a high sustainable component. In the specific sector of data storage, it is very simple. Everything we do online emits carbon dioxide. Over half (68%) of the data from most companies will never be used, with all that that means for carbon emissions. In our case, we have to be able to tell our customers what data to use and what to throw away, as well as where to store it: public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud or data centre.

These are just some of the considerations that any technology company could implement in their own company. If we all make small contributions, we can meet the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN. If not, we may witness the failure of a brilliant generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals. The solution is very clear: technology and sustainability.

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