IT consultancy goes greenhouse neutral

The move has been lauded by some, but others question its value

Australian IT consultancy company Renewtek has implemented a new Enterprise Content Management (ECM) application, a detailed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) solution and is offsetting travel and entertainment in an attempt to go completely carbon neutral.

To comply with the Australian Greenhouse Office’s (AGO) Greenhouse Friendly initiative, Renewtek must implement systems to monitor and reduce emissions, and calculate its office consumption, air flights and entertainment. This amount is then offset by purchasing carbon credits from an approved agency.

Renewtek implemented its ECM solution — IBM’s FileNet P8 platform — to automate internal processes and obtain a record of carbon-producing elements of the business, and to keep tabs on the carbon count from entertainment and travel. FileNet went live in October following a four-week implementation.

The LCA was designed by an environmental consultant and identifies and codifies process documentation, and registers all carbon emitted.

The company also built a monitoring application to become carbon-neutral compliant, which used monthly checklists and support documentation to produce quarterly and annual reviews.

Renewtek chairman Neil Perry says the LCA and monitoring plan were assessed and approved by the AGO, claiming they became the first Australian IT firm to be AGO-certified.

“The AGO’s criteria for becoming carbon neutral are extremely strict and we had to [initially] set ourselves a timetable of a year,” Perry says.

Renewtek now monitors and reports its emissions on an annual basis under the Green Friendly certification, and must acquire carbon abatement credits and take action to become more energy efficient.

Renewtek complied with AGO’s Greenhouse Friendly criteria in three months. The result was an immediate reduction in document printing and copying, as it had automated lead processing, customer reports, timesheets, invoicing, and accounts.

“Our carbon-neutral qualification has definitely opened more doors for us with companies that are looking to become sustainable,” Perry says.

However, one industry figure says the objective of going green is achieving a responsible corporate image, rather than squeezing out immediate savings.

“Businesses are really jumping on board the carbon-neutral wagon because they want a good corporate image, rather than [immediate] savings,” the figure says. “It may be the differentiator in the future when business would presumably deal with other green companies, but I don’t think most customers would choose a green alternative over cost of product.”

He says the concept of a consultancy firm achieving carbon neutrality was strange because the business would normally have low carbon emissions to begin with.

“Greening is generally the realm of hosting or manufacturing business and it’s a little strange and bewildering why a consulting firm would aim for the status.”

Hitachi Data Systems Australia and New Zealand managing director Mark Kay says reducing carbon output can bring big short and long-term savings in a datacentre.

“A green datacentre utilises less power to operate equipment and cool, and as a result costs less to run,” Kay says.

“Once you have passed the break-even point, which can occur in as little as 12 months, a green datacentre has a direct profit benefit to the business with every dollar saved going straight to the company’s bottom line.”

Australia’s federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Malcom Turnbull, says the company’s Greenhouse Friendly certification is a significant achievement because it meets international standards and best practice.

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