Digiweb goes down carbon neutral path

Certification gained to prove sustainability credentials

Christchurch-based Digiweb is aiming to be one of the first carbon-neutral data service providers in the country.

The company, a provider of hosted systems, storage and management solutions, has just gained its CarboNZero certification.

The CarboNZero programme, conducted by Landcare Research, is an internationally recognised greenhouse gas emissions management and reduction scheme, which is aimed at organisations, products, services and events.

Through an independent auditing process, organisations that have measured, and which have reduced and mitigated their greenhouse gas emissions, can be CarboNZero certified.

For Digiweb, which was founded in 1998, the biggest issue by far was electricity, says general manager Ian Falconer. Ninety percent of emissions came from the company’s datacentre, he says. The plan is now to reduce emissions by 12% a year, he says.

Besides electricity, the company identified diesel and long haul airfreight as the highest sources of missions for the company, and the reduction plan will focus on these areas.

One of the first moves for the company was to switch to Meridian Energy, which provides carbon-neutral electricity, says Falconer.

The company has also adopted virtualisation of its 200-plus servers as an ongoing project, he says.

Lighting in the datacentre has been re-engineered and is now connected to the alarm system. The air-conditioning has been tuned, and the company has also adopted simple policies around turning computers, monitors and lights off when possible.

One of the smaller initiatives was to clean out the company showers, so that staff could bike to work and have a shower before starting their day. About a third of the staff bike to work today, he says.

Digiweb is also recycling as much as it can, and has reduced its paper usage by changing the way it invoices its customers. Instead of posting invoices, customers now receive emailed versions — an effort that has reduced the company’s printing by over 90%, he says.

In addition, the company is actively encouraging its suppliers to reduce packaging, says Falconer.

He adds that when doing business with government agencies, providers are now expected to meet sustainability standards (Computerworld, May 5).

Staff buy-in is crucial for the project, says Falconer. The reduction plan has made staff feel good about their work, he says. Digiweb also encourages its staff to keep track of energy consumption at home. The company will match savings employees have on their home electricity bills, says Falconer.

Digiweb’s move toward CarboNZero certification was initiated by managing director Brendan McNeill, who felt strongly about turning the company into a environmentally- friendly and sustainable organisation, says Falconer.

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