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5 Ways to Use Green Technology to Help the Environment

Woman Sitting on Log with Laptop

Green technology gives companies the opportunity to help the environment and take advantage of inherent cost savings, such as those associated with eliminating paper waste or switching to energy efficient light bulbs. Tax incentives are also an obvious and tempting driver for eco-friendly practices.

Helping the environment also helps companies from a PR perspective as well. Clients are looking for energy optimized and ethical businesses to partner with and even employees are actively seeking work with companies who share their personal ‘green’ values.

In honor of World Environment Day, we’re taking a closer look at how companies can have an environmental impact through the strategic deployment of technology.

Green technology initiatives are far more varied than you may realize. Spanning beyond a paperless communication and solar panels, everything from the devices you choose to the way that you move data can have a significant, cumulative impact on the world’s environment.

Here are some technology considerations for a greener tomorrow:

1. Devices

Businesses purchase and distribute unbelievable amounts of technology hardware but few people take time to consider the environmental ramifications of choices around the manufacturing, shipping, maintenance, and disposal of the tech tools that we use everyday.

Like any resource, reducing redundancies makes a big difference. Does your company support “bring your own device” initiatives? Can voice collaboration be supported through Google Hangouts or other conferencing platform to eliminate the need for landline phones? When phone calls are necessary, consider a Google Voice number that can be used from an existing device.

Planning for the longevity of your technology can also inform other purchasing decisions. For example, the Microsoft suite requires upgraded devices to run the latest version of Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. Google’s G Suite, on the other hand, runs on Chrome. This allows users to extend the life of their existing devices and use power-efficient devices like Chromebooks.

When its finally time to retire a phone, laptop, printer, or other office tech, how a company disposes of dated / broken devices can have a significant impact as well. Be sure to adhere to required disposal instructions or employ a specialized third party partner to assist. Electronics that are improperly disposed can cause harmful pollutants to leach into water and soil.

2. Workflows and Processes

While most companies have a close-to-paperless environment that leverages email and messaging platforms like Gmail and Workplace by Facebook, there are still several workflows and business processes that frequently come offline.

Security, retention, and user adoption are holes in the bottom of your metaphorical eco-friendly boat. When a business network isn’t secure, there are concerns about retention, or the user experience is unbecoming / overly complicated, employees fall back to their old-school, paper printing ways.

Tightening common process offenders like invoicing, taxes, and on-boarding is dependent upon implementing trustworthy infrastructure that's easy to use.

As the graph from Statista shows, paper consumption in the US is decreasing. Realize environmental change faster by optimizing green enterprise solutions like Google and AODocs which feature security and retention features on a user-friendly platform.

Paper Consumption in the US

3. Data Warehousing

Let’s imagine that you’ve got the technology device puzzle figured out and your teams are operating in a 100% paperless environment. What happens to your company information when it’s not being actively used? Another overlooked opportunity for environmental improvement is data warehousing.

Out of sight, out of mind isn’t doing our planet any service. Data and cloud facilities require a tremendous amount of energy to maintain. Companies can manage their existing infrastructure more efficiently by considering Energy Star’s recommendations or eliminate your data carbon footprint entirely by choosing the Google Cloud platform.

“By moving compute from a self managed data center or colocation facility to GCP, the emissions directly associated with your company’s compute and data storage will be zero.” - Google Cloud

4. Certified Partners

As your work to tighten your corporate environment standards, consider partners and vendors with the following green accreditations:

  • Energy Star certified office equipment - from computers and monitors to imaging equipment, such as printers and copiers - save energy through efficient design and power management options. They use less energy to perform regular tasks, and when not in use, automatically enter a low-power mode.
  • Green Plus is a certification program that evaluates processes.
  • EPEAT is the leading global ecolabel for the IT sector.
  • American Consumer Council offers a Green C Certification for companies meeting a series of high environmental standards.
  • Green Business Bureau

While your specific company may not be 'required' to secure an environmental accreditation, understanding the standards set forth in these programs will empower more informed and impactful business decisions. If you are serious about achieving a certification, paperless processes and documentation of your business practices will be necessary. AODocs can help you with that!

5. Individual Contributions

Employees in any role can make a positive impact on the environment through technology while at work and at play.

“The places where we work, play, and learn account for nearly half the nation’s energy use. Learn how you can make many of the same green choices at work as you make at home to save energy and fight global warming with help from EPA’s Energy Star program.”

To get you started they suggest:

  • Give it a Rest: Use power management settings on your computer and monitor so they go into power save mode when not in use. Also use a power strip as a central “turn off” point when you’re using equipment to completely disconnect the power supply.
  • Unplug It: Unplug electronics such as cell phones and laptops once they’re charged. Adapters plugged into outlets use energy even if they’re not charging.
  • Keep it Local / Telecommute: Using Google Hangouts and other collaborative features reduces the need for travel and can add up to a big impact on CO2 emissions. Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, for example, conducted roughly 200 internal video conferences in 2010. 50% of these meetings replaced a car or bus trip adding up to savings of 8,000 miles and two tons of CO2 emissions.

The advancement in renewable energy and the conversations around sustainable business are great for Mother Nature. We encourage individuals and businesses can explore the overlooked opportunities for tech change. Follow us on social media to share your green IT advice and success stories!

World Environment Day takes place every year on June 5. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years, it has grown to be one of the largest global platforms for public outreach, celebrated by millions of people in well over 100 countries. - www.unenvironment.org

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