April 24, 2023

Going Green: how your organisation can achieve net zero

Climate change affects us all. Achieving net zero emissions as a business is a goal we should all strive towards. Here’s how. 

Going Green: how your organisation can achieve net zero

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We are in a climate emergency. Human-generated greenhouse gases are at an all-time high. These levels have created the most urgent issue facing us today; climate change affects everyone, including businesses, but especially the less fortunate communities. The consequences of not acting on this issue are devastating not only for the planet but for humans, too. 

While not acting has dire consequences, this issue brings with it big opportunities for organisations to address it head-on. These opportunities are not limited by industry or location. In this post, we will explore some topics about sustainability and look at how you can help fight climate change. 

Climate change basics

It’s no secret that climate change affects our everyday lives and is the greatest challenge facing humankind this century. The health of our communities and planet is at risk if we don’t act now. Extreme weather, global temperature rises and resource depletion are some of the many consequences of our inaction. It is for this reason people and organisations are encouraged to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible. 

What is net zero?

Simply put, net zero refers to when we can remove as much greenhouse gas as we emit. This is done either by natural means like forests and oceans or technological intervention. But what does that mean for you, and how can your organisation help? 

How can my organisation reach net zero?

Any organisation can achieve net zero emissions. Here are a few ways: 

  • Commit publicly to reaching the shared goal of reaching net zero.
  • Prioritise reducing emissions as quickly as possible. This includes doing business with trusted partners who are actively working towards this goal, such as Google Cloud, Microsoft, AWS, and Salesforce.
  • Off-set any remaining emissions by investing in renewable energy and carbon credits.

A climate action plan. 

It’s now or never when it comes to acting on climate change, according to the UN. To get started, just like with any initiative, you need to define and communicate your strategy in support of your goal. Ask yourselves:

  • What do we do, and why are we doing it? (products & services, mission)
  • How do we do it? (operating mode and value chain)
  • Who do we influence? (employees, customers, society)

The answers to these questions will aid in your journey towards fighting climate change. It must be said that every organisation’s plan will be slightly different, but there will be similar themes–such as emission reduction and innovation, among others.   

Benefits of net zero emissions. 

Businesses need human and natural capital to succeed. Growing your organisation in a financially and environmentally sustainable way ensures that your organisation can navigate ever-changing circumstances. While the link between human and natural resources may not be obvious, it’s not a new concept–we all rely on electricity or some sort of computer, for example. Simple changes can have an impact on the environment. Here are other benefits of working towards a net zero world:

Investors want action. 

As Larry Fink states in his open letter to CEOs, “The next 1,000 unicorns won’t be search engines or social media companies, they’ll be sustainable, scalable innovators – startups that help the world decarbonize and make the energy transition affordable for all consumers.” 

Fink goes on to say, “We believe the companies leading the transition [towards net zero emissions] present a vital investment opportunity… and driving capital towards these phoenixes will be essential to achieving a net zero world.”  

Consumers are demanding ethical practices. 

Many customers will often overlook the so-called green tax in favour of products they can be certain are produced ethically. Customers are increasingly focusing on where and how products are produced and their environmental impact. By investing in ethical practices, you have the chance to gain loyal customers. 

Employees are drawn to values.

The fight for top talent is a challenge known by many companies. One way employers distinguish themselves from their competition is by having clear and strong values. Being committed to helping the environment and making the planet a better place for all is one of those values employees appreciate.  

Quick ways to make greener choices  

Electricity 

Get smart about your electricity use–switch off lights when no one is in the room or office. You can also use energy-saving LED bulbs or install solar panels to generate electricity for your offices.

Transport

Be conscious about travel. Drive or fly less to reduce your and your organisation’s carbon footprint. Taking public transport like the train goes a long way in the long run. If you have to drive, Google Maps allows you to make greener choices from within the app. With Google Flights, you can find flights with the lowest carbon emissions. You can also find information about hotels’ sustainability initiatives on Google. 

In fact, the German airline, Lufthansa, recognised that meeting the commitment to achieve net zero emissions in the next 30 years needed swift action. The approach they took was to change the way they did data management. 

The airline partnered with Google Cloud to develop a new platform that allows for better planning of the airline’s daily operations. The increased efficiencies have a direct impact on lowering their carbon footprint. You can read the full case study here.

Aircon

Take control of your cooling system. Be mindful of your heating and cooling systems. Ensure that they are properly maintained and in good condition. Google also offers a service called Nest Renew that lets you support clean energy with your Nest thermostat. Other ways you can help make your cooling systems more efficient is by blocking as much direct sun in the summer to keep the offices cool and the opposite in winter.  

Infrastructure

Join the cleanest cloud in the industry–Google Cloud. Google Cloud is helping companies like Whirlpool, Etsy, HSBC, Unilever, and Salesforce develop new solutions for the specific climate change challenges they face and benefit from the cleanest cloud in the industry. With Google Cloud, you can also choose the greenest Google Cloud region to help lower your carbon footprint. Google Cloud has matched its energy consumption with 100% renewable energy since 2017 and is actively working towards using carbon-free energy by 2030. 

Recently Earth Engine for Google Cloud, a tool to monitor environmental impact, became available for all users. They describe the tool as being one that allows public and private sector leaders to “improve operations and become more sustainable by sourcing raw materials more responsibly and by analyzing and mitigating climate risks to their organizations.” 

Using the cloud instead of on-premises infrastructure is also an easy way to reduce your electricity consumption. 

Salesforce's Commitment

Salesforce has taken several measures to reduce its carbon footprint and become more environmentally sustainable. The company achieved net zero in September 2021 and has invested in various renewable energy projects such as wind and solar. Salesforce has also built some of the world's most environmentally sustainable buildings, which use natural light and ventilation, with features such as rainwater harvesting and green roofs. The company has committed to offsetting its carbon emissions by investing in environmental projects such as reforestation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. To reduce waste, Salesforce has also implemented various measures, such as using compostable food containers and utensils in its cafeterias and providing employee recycling and composting facilities. By offering incentives and subsidies, Salesforce also encourages its employees to use sustainable modes of transportation, such as biking, walking, and public transit. They further allow employees to work from anywhere, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

Why the Green Cloud?

Google has arguably one of the most aggressive sustainability projects compared to its competitors–because data centres, the cloud, and the internet use immense amounts of electricity and are a big contributor to carbon emission. Google (and its competitors) have put substantial efforts into helping users make smarter, greener choices when it comes to the cloud and internet. 

To put it into perspective, in 2021, Google used around 18,3 terawatt-hours, which is more than some small countries use in a year–for example, Sri Lanka uses 12.6 terawatt-hours, and Moldova uses 4.4 terawatt-hours per year. Impressively, Google has purchased 100% of the 18.3 tWh from renewable energy sources and 66% is carbon-free energy (per hour). This means that when you’re innocently searching for pasta recipes or calculating your route to work, you’re not increasing your carbon footprint (that much). 

Final thoughts 

There is no time to waste when it comes to climate action. Going green should not be seen as trendy but rather as a necessity. There are several ways in which you and your organisation can go green and achieve net zero, including travelling less (or travelling smarter) and using less energy. Other ways we explored included working with cloud partners like Google and Salesforce, who are committed to achieving carbon neutrality. You can rest assured that when you use Google products, you are actively working towards a better future for the planet. To find out about moving to the cloud, contact us today. No one does cloud like CloudSmiths.

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