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It seems like yesterday that green issues and the environment were both buzz words which no self-respecting business could do without. So what’s changed?
Green largely fell off the corporate agenda throughout 2010, due to the recession and the inevitable refocus on cost savings and survival. However, with advances in technology, organisations are beginning to realise that being green and cutting costs can actually work together.
Indeed, only last week the Government underscored its own commitment to the green economy with two major investments in renewable energy technology. Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the start of a competition to form an Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre to focus on technologies for offshore wind, wave and tidal power.
The Government has committed more than Ј200 million over the next four years to establish an elite network of at least six technology and innovation centres. The centres will allow businesses to access equipment and expertise to help them commercialise new and emerging technology – and will, of course, help them capture a share of the global market.
Vince Cable said: “The UK is a world leader in offshore engineering and our reputation makes us an excellent location for research in this area. In creating an Offshore Renewable Energy technology and innovation centre we are taking the next step to transforming the UK into a low carbon economy.
There is a clear opportunity for the Government to support the UK’s offshore industry and this centre will be of great benefit to the sector and the economy.”
When it comes to outsourcing, it’s not just the issue of cost of carbon consumption but also the added complexity of who is responsible for that cost. For instance, Data Centres consume large amounts of electricity and are rapidly increasing in size and numbers.
End-users may believe that outsourcing their data centre(s) may make them except from the Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme but it is becoming more common for outsourcing service providers to ask their customers to contribute to the associated costs. Technology is also helping organisations to understand their consumption patterns and reduce carbon admissions.
“It is widely recognised that our use of energy and other natural resources can be reduced or at least optimised through the use of IT. Therefore, information technology is seen by many as being the primary solution to addressing and reducing the carbon emissions of almost every sector,” said Zahl Limbuwala, chair of BCS data centre specialist group.
IT companies SAP and HP backed Limbuwala’s comments, with Ian Brooks European head of innovation and sustainable computing at HP, saying that it will be ’imperative’ for organisations and governments to deploy measurement and control systems regarding consumption.
Aegis is the first Indian BPO to have published a standalone sustainability report on its global operations last year. The report, externally assured by Ernst & Young, achieved the highest rating of A+.
Asked about the advantages of adopting green practices in BPOs, Aegis Global CEO and MD, Aparup Sengupta said:
“We have an environmental policy in place that demonstrates our top management’s commitment towards the environment. We are taking concerted efforts towards ensuring that we expand in a sustainable way.
“In our existing as well as new facilities, we have taken several energy saving measures to reduce our overall consumption. These initiatives have been taken in the area of air conditioning, lighting, raw power, and DG usage and are detailed out below.
These initiatives were taken at all our India locations. In FY11, we intend to include our overseas facilities in these initiatives. We have set a target of reducing our energy consumption by 3% this year. We shall continue to take initiatives to reduce our paper and water consumption.”
Patty Calkins, global vice president of environment, health and safety at Xerox, believes that in order to establish a green global economy, businesses need to pick the right projects, build support, measure results and repeat.
Patty Calkins said: “Most chief executive officers believe that within a decade, sustainability initiatives will be integrated with core business activities throughout their global supply chains making green practices the norm in most workplaces. The challenge to getting there is less about vision and strategy — most already have those — and more about execution.”
These are among the findings of a 2010 survey of 766 chief executive officers around the globe conducted by global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact. The Compact is an initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.