How smarter IT can lead to a greener, healthier planet

For many years now, we’ve been commuting to the workplace and travelling to see our customers and partners. For many of us, this would mean jumping in the car to drive to where we need to go, often with little consideration given to the environmental impacts of these journeys. While some greener travel schemes have emerged over the years, such as the government’s cycle to work initiative or, more recently, plans to legalise electric scooters on our roads, aiming to help lower congestion and improve air quality, more needs to be done if we hope to meet ambitious climate change targets.

A major transformation occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw government officials advising their citizens of essential travel only for much of the year. This impacted positively on the planet, with reports indicating significantly lower levels of air pollution (up to a 60% fall in the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emitted in the UK since lockdown began). These environmental improvements, combined with the other benefits remote working can provide, such as improved flexibility and cost efficiencies, have the potential to redefine working practices for the long term.

Adopting cloud-based IT strategies and using smart technologies will be essential to sustain these environmental benefits. While legacy technology, such as on-premises data centres, are a huge consumer of power and a significant contributor to carbon emissions, cloud services are much more environmentally friendly. This is due to the cloud computing model that encourages the consolidation and use of fewer larger data centres that can run more efficiently and reduce carbon emissions up to 50%. We can easily see that cloud-based services are better for the planet and can also help to facilitate remote working initiatives by providing video streaming services and collaboration applications helping to maintain productivity while keeping the impact of commuting to a minimum.

Remote working is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of other ways smart technologies can reimagine workplaces to become healthier and greener. Take IoT sensors and devices for example. For years they’ve helped to improve efficiencies in retail, hospitality and manufacturing by getting the right stock, services and materials to the right place at the right time. This concept can easily be replicated into the office environment. As lockdown measures ease, employees may want to return to the office but still need to maintain social distancing protocols. Technologies such as QR scanners or Real Time Location Solutions (RTLS) can inform employees which desks are currently in -use as they head out to the office. Using this data and associated applications, employees can have real-time access to desk information helping them plan their visit to the office. This approach not only helps to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but may also lead to employers being able to adopt smaller offices to save on costs, whilst still maintaining the same level of productivity as evidenced during the peak pandemic lockdown. The environmental reward is fewer cars on the road, better air quality and a step towards meeting policies such as the Climate Change Act.

Since 2011, UKCloud has engaged with Natural Capital Partners to independently certify our cloud services as Carbon Neutral. We’re now committed to offering additional carbon offset to enable our customers to consume carbon negative cloud at no extra cost to help support their environmental obligations. Read this article to find out more.