The Business Breakfast Digest – Success stories of Sustainable IT

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On Wednesday 23rd March Go Green members joined us at Bush House overlooking Bristol’s harbourside to explore the subject of Sustainable IT.

Ian Brooks, a senior lecturer in Sustainable IT at the University of the West of England kicked off the morning.

He began by delving in to the ‘Dark Side’ of IT, where the IT industry has a similar carbon footprint to Aviation worldwide. He also explored the issues behind labour rights, child labour and pollution which are prevalent in the IT industry. He then led us on to how IT can be an enabling force to drive down global carbon emissions by as much as 20% by 2030.

One way you can improve your organisations’ sustainability by including IT in your sustainable procurement policies and considering reuse and end of life of electrical equipment.

Fairphone for example traces the minerals used in their supply chain. They source conflict-free minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They aren’t shying away from the issue of conflict-minerals, instead they are investing in alternatives to current mining practices, empowering workers and improving the livelihoods of the local population.

IT is also a huge opportunity to improve sustainability across your business. Ian gave examples of how IT systems can be used to increase agricultural crops by 30% and save over 300 trillion litres of water by using smart IT programming to water and fertilize crops.

Next up Barney Smith, Managing Director of Perform Green provided us with lots of tips and easy practical steps to green our IT.

For example just changing your margins on Microsoft Word to narrow before printing can save 20% of paper. Barney then took us through some inspiring case studies of how carbon and money have been saved through IT. For example travelling for meetings can be reduced significantly with flexible working and virtual meetings from the comfort of you’re own office.

Finally Edmund Davis, Director at Stripe OLT explored practical ways that IT can play a dynamic and pivotal role in improving sustainability across your business.

For example consolidating equipment and putting in a new server can save up to £1,000 a year in running costs.

Next Edmund explored the possibilities of the cloud. Cloud based email could save 170kWh per user per year! For an office of 50 people that’s over 100kg of CO2!

This led in to a lively panel discussion with many difficult questions put to the sustainable IT experts to discuss. If you missed this event you missed one of our best panel discussions with lots of challenging questions put to our experts.

We then heard some fantastic 2 minutes pitches:

Simeon Rowsell who designs and develops Bristol-built websites talked about the importance of being an ethical business working with the voluntary sector and hosting websites powered by 100% UK renewable energy.

Claire Fenner from Southmedia spoke about their ethically-minded digital agency and how they are working with Low Carbon South West to create a brand new, green-hosted website – coming soon!

Sara Duff  from SCC talked about the myriad of services that SCC provide to enable people to do business by planning, supplying, integrating and managing their IT.

Paul Davis from Bristol City Council spoke to us about the ICT project which is a European Framework Initiative for Energy & Environmental Efficiency in the ICT Sector. The main goals will be to raise awareness among SMEs on the carbon footprint of ICT, create a marketplace of energy & resource efficient solutions for low-carbon ICT and make available online tools for SMEs to measure their carbon footprint. Find out more and pre-register here.

Afterwards, we had another round of pastries, coffee and tea and a chance to network and find out more about Sustainable IT.

To access the full slides for all of the presenters please click on the links below.

Ian Brooks from the University of the West of England

Barney Smith from Perform Green

Edmund Davis from Stripe OLT