The energy and utilities sector has a major part to play in helping the world combat the effects of climate change. The good news is that the industry is responding well to the challenge: in 2022, 28% of the world’s total power requirement was fulfilled by renewable energy.
However, there is still plenty of work to be done to increase the contribution that clean energy sources can make, and reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. This won’t be achieved overnight, which is why a strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy is so important in the long-term for every energy and utilities business.
At a time when this sector in particular is receiving heavy public scrutiny around sustainability, no stone should be left unturned in cutting emissions and energy use. One area that is perhaps overlooked is IT, but a more sustainable approach to computing and technology can have a substantial positive impact. This blog explores why ESG targets are so important, and the contribution that IT changes can make.
The importance of ESG targets for energy and utilities
Companies in this sector are under moral and social pressure to act sustainably, and to be transparent about the extent of their sustainability. But now there are also legal requirements to do so, too.
Around the world, ESG regulations are increasingly requiring private businesses of all types to report on, and aim to prevent, any negative impact their operations may have on the climate or environment. These include the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, and in the United States, proposed regulations around climate-related reporting put forward by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the UK specifically, there are a number of legal requirements being put in place, as part of the Government’s drive to reach Net Zero by 2050.
ESG targets for energy and utilities companies can cover many areas, including (and not necessarily limited to): greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, manufacturing energy management, sourcing of materials, air quality and water management, biodiversity, community relations, and the health and safety of the workforce.
Improving business efficiency through more sustainable processes
IT makes a major global contribution to GHG emissions, because of the sheer amount of computing power involved in all areas of modern life. However, IT is also an enabler of more efficient ways of working, especially as flexible and hybrid working has become more prevalent.
The following are just a few of the ways in which IT can drive efficiency and sustainability:
- Intelligent print services: printing is a sizeable contributor to a business’s carbon footprint for many reasons: the energy and resources needed to produce paper, printers and ink; the electricity that powers the printer; and the extra heating and lighting needed for large-scale filing facilities. Managed print services can help cut all of these emission sources by deploying more sustainable ink technologies, supporting paperless office technologies, and producing energy saving reports throughout print device lifecycles.
- Carbon footprint reduction: moving desktops into the cloud and extending the refresh cycles of devices can cut the emissions generated by device use and manufacturing. Additionally, IT recycling, refurbishment and reuse services can be used to minimise wastage when devices are eventually replaced, with the knock-on benefit of saving on capital expenditure.
- Energy-efficient devices: switching to more efficient endpoint devices can cut GHG emissions as less electricity is needed to power them. These devices can also last longer, helping support the longer device refresh cycles mentioned above.
The key benefits for implementing sustainable processes
With these kinds of measures in place, the positive impact of more sustainable operations can be substantial, and stretch far beyond a better contribution to the environment:
- Meet ESG targets and compliance requirements: more efficient, low-energy operations can help fulfil the criteria set out in ESG strategies, and support compliance with legal requirements.
- Cut costs: significant savings can be made in energy costs, resource procurement, equipment like filing cabinets, and even on real estate if large physical filing rooms can be scaled back.
- Improve brand perception: these sustainable actions can demonstrate a meaningful commitment to the environment, which will resonate positively with customers, suppliers and with the general public at large.
The last point is especially important, as people on the whole are looking for businesses who can follow up their words on sustainability with real action. So while moving towards clean energy is the most direct way that companies in this sector can embrace a greener future, making changes to IT has its own vital role to play, too.
SCC’s Document Services are ideal for energy and utilities companies like you that are exploring a cost-effective route to more sustainable IT. Learn more about our services in detail here.
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