Tech for good

Six ways green tech can benefit your business

Customer and employee environmental awareness is inspiring businesses to adopt more green tech – and that will benefit the bottom line too.

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Two-thirds of customers place importance on a brand’s sustainable or eco-friendly image. Buoyed by this growing consumer awareness, business investment in becoming more sustainable is at record highs. Staff are concerned too – 97 percent of executives say their company has been negatively affected by climate change.

IT and enterprise leaders must get involved in this new age of corporate social responsibility (CSR.) But these new environmentally conscious ways of doing business can benefit your company in other ways. Here are six ways green tech is improving business while reducing its environmental footprint.

1.   Saving on energy bills

Oxford Economics says data-driven tools like smart meters, smart plugs and self-regulating energy systems can cut energy costs by up to 5 percent. It may not sound like much, but will add up to billions by 2030, with the biggest savings likely in small-to-medium businesses.

These smart solutions are an easy way for businesses to predict better, optimize and conserve energy, meaning cost savings while reducing climate impacts of energy production, which across the world, is still mostly done by burning fossil fuels.

2.   Gaining more organizational insight

These smart devices don’t just help save energy and resources. They give businesses improved insight into process efficiencies. There’s been huge uptake of ‘internet of things’ (IoT) devices in industry and manufacturing, largely driven by their ability to predict maintenance needs, maximize productivity and reduce factory downtime. Over 55 billion devices will be connected and talking to one another by 2025, according to market researcher IDC.

The savings these devices make through more efficient resource use and maximizing productivity (more output for less input) mean environmental and money-saving benefits.

One example is modular house-building factories –robots are better than humans at arranging patterns to get the most cuts from a piece of wood.

3.   Improving employees’ working lives

According to international consulting firm McKinsey, remote, digital, and hybrid technologies will define the future of work. Many employers are using online tools to book on-demand flexible office space, vehicles and virtual desktops, cutting resource consumption and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Employees relish more opportunity to work flexibly, widespread since the pandemic – whether working from home or across hours that better suit family life.

Commuting is no small contributor to climate change. In the US, 75 percent use driving as their main means of getting to work.

With transportation contributing 28 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions, working from home could be significant in keeping climate change at bay.

4.   Saving on carbon costs

With many countries operating internal carbon markets, reducing carbon emissions can, on its own, reduce operating expenses. These schemes require companies to buy carbon credits for emissions they produce, while those that create carbon sinks, like forestry, can make money by selling credits.

Renewable energy microgrids are one way to cut carbon emissions. Other companies are replacing fossil fuel-powered vehicle fleets with electric and hybrid vehicles. These can also have health benefits for staff through reduced air pollution, vibration and noise.

5.   Reducing eWaste

Our growing mountains of electronic waste are not easy or cheap to recycle, but practice is improving.

Green tech can also help here, like using cloud-based file storage and backups, where multiple businesses share the same IT infrastructure. (This, in turn, makes strong, automated cloud security indispensable.) Virtual desktops also mean you needn’t constantly equip and re-equip staff with dedicated laptops and PCs, meaning less waste to landfill.

Choose your data center wisely for minimum environmental impact – they can use much electricity and water, and create a lot of heat. Doing your research will reveal the most low-impact options, like using data centers in countries where most electricity is generated renewably.

6.   Increasing productivity

One UCLA study found employees at companies that voluntarily adopt high environmental standards were 16 percent more productive than peers at less eco-friendly organizations. Reasons might include distance learning, telecommuting and real-time collaboration tech.

Artificially-intelligent software personalities and automated helpers may also help employees work without needing to travel while taking over repetitive tasks that reduce focus.

Green tech for business will mean many operational benefits alongside all-important protection for our resources, climate and atmosphere. Companies should aim to stay ahead of customers’ expectations and move more quickly than regulation requires. The coming years will only bring more environmental scrutiny and awareness, so it will pay to invest in greener tech today.

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About authors

Business strategist and award-winning speaker Scott Steinberg is also trend expert, futurist and author of 20 books, including Make Change Work for You.