Six Ways You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Today

From the World Economic Forum in Davos to your local refuse collection, our carbon footprints as individuals and as a global society are under scrutiny like never before. What can your organisation do to minimise its carbon footprint today?

Many organisations today are balancing growth – whether it’s financial, productivity or both – with reducing operational costs and environmental footprint. It’s a reality in today’s world. We have a finite amount of resource on the planet, so every individual and organisation can, and should, think about how to reduce its impact. In this blog post, our Cloud Product Marketing Manager Diana Szalai takes you through six ways you can reduce your carbon footprint today.

What does Carbon Footprint really mean?

To fully understand the meaning of ‘carbon footprint’, multiple terms actually need to be defined.

  • Your carbon footprint is the total environmental impact of the carbon emissions you produce.
  • Carbon emissions are the amount of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere.
  • Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and more.
  • Your carbon footprint is a measure of these carbon emissions. For an individual, these may involve the vehicles you use and the ways in which you heat your home. For an organisation this can include data centre costs, office energy costs and so on.

Now that you know what ‘carbon footprint’ really means, you can start to unravel what your organisation should be doing.

Six Ways You Can Reduce Your Organisation’s Carbon Footprint

One: Use a Carbon Footprint Calculator

Use a calculator to understand your organisation’s current carbon footprint. The Carbon Trust has a calculator for SMEs that you can use. In the UK, the average person’s carbon footprint is about 10 tonnes. That’s equivalent to filling 24 million balloons with carbon! Let’s find a way to start popping those hypothetical balloons, shall we?

Two: Carry Out an ‘Energy Audit’

Look at what your organisation is currently consuming. The Energy Saving Trust has a tool to offer some advice. Six Degrees recently assessed our server environments, identifying which servers were ‘zombies’ and spinning them down. 

Your organisation should also consider implementing backup as a service or disaster recovery as a service – you’ll always know that you’ll have what you need, when you need it, but you needn’t keep those unused environments live all the time.  Another great way to save energy and reduce costs.

Some simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint today:

  • Switch off monitors and other equipment when not in use. Around two-thirds of the energy consumed by office equipment is attributed to PCs and monitors. In respect to computer power management, Energy Star has a useful myth buster list. In addition, the University of Cambridge published some compelling statistics around analysis of their own use, also offering guidance for you to take on board as well.
  • Have motion-sensitive lighting so that areas of your site aren’t illuminated when not in use.
  • Set your thermostat 1C lower at your premises. The Department of Energy indicates that doing so saves 1% of energy even over an eight hour period.

Simple encouragement and communication to your staff helps to minimise your footprint bit by bit, and will reduce costs as well.

Three: Create a Plan 

Create a carbon footprint reduction plan. Even if your organisation needs to improve its carbon footprint, everyone needs to start somewhere. So, write it down and start addressing items now. You’ll need to pull together information regarding not just your energy, gas and water use, but also your business travel as well. And you need to consider whether or not you must comply with the Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR). Launched in April 2019, SECR applies to:

  • All companies whose shares are listed on the stock exchange; and
  • UK companies with more than 250 employees or an annual turnover of greater than £36m or annual balance sheet of over £18m.

If companies can provide evidence that they use less than 40 MWh in a year, they will not be required to comply. In addition, public sector organisations are exempt from SECR. There’s a useful fact sheet here.

Once you start on your plan, be sure to celebrate milestones as you progress. Zero Waste Scotland has a plan to help you kick-start this exercise. One great place to start your planning is to look at obvious cost-cutting areas, which leads into our next item.

Four: Use Data Centre or Cloud Environments Where Possible

On-premises equipment and environments typically cost more, particularly in the upfront scenario. There is sometimes a genuine need for on-premises, but consider what really does need to be on your site. Instead, use our high-density cloud infrastructure to save both energy and money. With usage-based consumption models, it’s simple for your organisation to spin up/down based upon your needs or any seasonal trends. Utilising our Enterprise Cloud is an easy way for your organisation to achieve this.

There are also scenarios in which clients genuinely thought they were saving money by keeping environments on-premises, assuming it was no cost to them. They thought, “Why should our organisation pay £10,000 per year for cloud services when our in-house set-up costs nothing?” Well, upon investigation and review, internal costs were actually five times more than paying for cloud services. So, drill down into your organisation’s business case either way.

Five: Optimise Your Cloud Environments

Beyond just utilising cloud infrastructures, it’s about getting the right cloud for your organisation. Optimisation is the key to unlocking the best from your cloud environment. Whether it’s private cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud, think about the ‘Goldilocks Principle’. Reach out to Six Degrees to book your Cloud Assessment to understand what’s best for you: what you need and where you need it.

Also, think about refreshing your servers.  Replace the old with the new – processors are performing better and are more efficient, both in terms of speed and energy consumption. In analysis from the EURECA project in 2018, 40% of public sector data centre servers were older than five years of age.  Those same servers performed only 7% of the compute, but used a whopping 66% of power.

About every 18 months the chips in servers have doubled their efficiency – have a look at Moore’s Law for more information – so rather than holding onto these outdated servers, refresh them to optimise your performance and, in the long run, save your organisation some cash by reducing your energy consumption. It’s not just about optimising your infrastructure, but also your staff, which leads to our final item.

Six: Work Remotely

It has been proven time and again that offering workers the ability to work flexibly not only increases user productivity, but also saves money for any organisation.

The Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey (the most comprehensive study of ‘employment circumstances in the UK’) indicates that in 2018 more than 1.7 million people throughout the UK were remote workers. That’s a 50% increase from the figure a decade ago and it keeps steadily increasing, so your employees need to be able to work beyond your site walls. Six Degrees offers its clients the ability to leverage flexible working by having their desktops delivered from the cloud to any device, anywhere – using Microsoft Azure and Citrix.

In addition, working remotely is two-fold as it reduces one’s transport impacts as well. Frequently using high quality video and collaboration tools for day-to-day project work in lieu of face-to-face meetings reduces business travel. Six Degrees is a heavy promoter of agile working. We recognise that by offering our clients and our employees the tools to enable flexible and remote working policies, we can attract and retain talent, help improve work/life balance and reduce the need for travel.

Start Now to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

If you take one step forward with even one of the items we have outlined above, you and your organisation will embark on its journey towards a lower carbon footprint now – improving productivity and preserving our world for all.

Our strategic partners have clear Corporate and Social Responsibility policies in place that dictate how they operate their global businesses. This position ties in to what Six Degrees seeks from its partners: the commitment to help us create carbon-conscious, cloud-based communication and collaboration services for our clients. Our portfolio helps our clients achieve their goals of improving productivity whilst introducing efficiencies.

Get in touch with us to learn more – our teams will give you the best guidance and optimal support you need while juxtaposing a low carbon future.

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