Where has green business gone?

By Naser Ali, Segment Marketing Manager, Data Centres, Eaton


Although the theme of last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos may well have been ‘Resilient Dynamism’, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, was less circumspect. For Ms Lagarde, 2013 is a ‘make or break’ year for the world economy. In times like these, surely there are more pressing matters than green business.

Of course there are. But central to the idea of green business is the cutting of unnecessarily wasteful practices – and, at its heart, that also means being more frugal and taking into account costs that, in time of plenty, were just incidentals. Green business is good business practice – something we’re acutely aware of at Eaton, not least because so much of our business involves using raw materials to make equipment that transmits, distributes and stores energy.

The cost of electricity is going up by between seven and 12% a year. For those things that consume large amounts of electricity – and datacentres are as good an example as any – cutting the amount of energy consumed can create significant cost savings. That might be by making the cooling more efficient, by cutting the amount of hardware needed by introducing virtualisation, or by any other number of cunning tricks employed by the technical staff. Eaton worked with Facebook on its Luleå data centre, only a few dozen miles from the Arctic Circle in Sweden. One of the reasons for the exotic location is the low ambient temperatures; this helps to save enormous amounts of energy that would otherwise be spent on cooling.

Facebook is also a key part of the Open Compute Project, which, amongst other things, groups types of components together rather than portioning them out for single servers. This means that, when the time comes to upgrade the processors in a rack, only the processors need be swapped out – rather than dozens of servers. Again – less wastage, and more money saving.

Yet this is only one facet; a great deal of energy is spent on making and moving physical objects, and by creating devices that are smaller and lighter, not only are less raw materials used, but shipping costs are also reduced. We make UPS systems – power backup devices for data centres – that are smaller, lighter and use less hazardous materials than predecessors. They use less natural resources to make, cost less to ship and are easier to dispose of at the end of their lifetimes.

Making more compact devices creates savings all the way through a product’s life cycle, from manufacturing, through shipping installation and recycling or disposing of equipment at the end of its life.

Perhaps one reason why we don’t hear so much about green business is, quite simply, that green business increasingly is simply good business sense. Avoiding waste, husbanding resources carefully and looking at problems in the round, rather than taking the easy, profligate route are now so deeply ingrained that green business has just become good business.

Where has green business gone?
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