IT key to carbon reduction plans

Gains outweigh risks, says Carbon Planet chief executive.

UK businesses need to embrace flexible, remote and virtual working if they are to meaningfully tackle climate change and reduce their carbon footprints.

That's the message from the chief executive of Carbon Planet, Dave Sag who is in the UK this week to find offices for his team to manage a growing customer base of UK and European clients who use the vendor's carbon emissions analysis, management and consultancy services.

Sag told IT PRO technology holds the answer to many of the most carbon hungry business activities. "Replacing travel, by car and flying, staying in hotels and face-to-face meetings with or VoIP-based communications like Skype is by far the single biggest way a business can lower its carbon footprint," he said.

VoIP calling, video-conferencing and teleworking are not only kinder to the environment in terms of replacing the need for energy hungry forms of transportation, but are inherently more energy efficient as productivity tools, added Sag. He said like hosted, software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and collaboration tools like wiki web sites that make use of Web 2.0 technologies can be less data centre-power intensive.

"We've found what system software you're running can also make a lot of difference to the amount of power your data centre uses," he said, adding "data centre consumption is very easy to measure as it draws a pretty regular amount of current 24 hours a day".

But preliminary results Sag has shared exclusively with IT PRO of comparative tests between the efficiency of similarly configured data centres running Microsoft, Linux and Apple operating systems suggest Windows could be twice as power hungry as Mac. "We are doing some research for Apple and haven't finalised it yet, but I expect they'll be quite pleased if the final results are similar," he said.

Carbon Planet has clients across 12 countries from a range of industries and sectors. "Our work overlaps with the Carbon Trust in the UK, for example, where they might do an audit and we might be called in to verify it or vice versa," he said. "But where it is concerned with large industry, we can perform carbon assessments costing anything from 500 to 1,500 and up from there, basically for anyone from vet surgeries to multinational mining companies."

He added that 80 per cent of Carbon Planet's revenue comes from its carbon emission engineering auditing and consultancy work, but that it is also a tier one renewable energy and carbon credit broker and member of the Chicago Climate Exchange for administering carbon offsetting schemes.

"Carbon is already becoming a de facto currency," said Sag. "What I'd like to see is carbon being included on the balance sheets of accounting software so you could produce reports at the push of a button - that would make our life a lot easier and seems a pretty obvious move to me what with the legislation increasingly being passed."

Carbon Planet also plans to launch a web-based carbon emission, self-assessment auditing tool for companies to measure and track their carbon footprints and compliance before the end of the year.

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