December 9, 2022

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Creating a more sustainable technology environment

Yugen Naidoo - Country Manager Lenovo Southern Africa at Lenovo

Yugen Naidoo – Country Manager Lenovo Southern Africa at Lenovo

At a time when people and organisations are becoming more environmentally conscious, using innovative sustainable technology is becoming more important than ever. In fact, the global green technology and sustainability market was valued at more than $10 billion in 2020 and is projected to top $74 billion by 2030. Becoming energy efficient is one of the primary areas where IT can reduce its impact on the environment.

Given how South Africa accounts for 30% of the electricity demand on the continent, it is imperative for local companies to find ways to optimise the operating environment while still trying to scale back on resource consumption. However, this is not only a local concern but a global one with many manufacturers focusing efforts on improving energy consumption. For instance, up to 94% of Lenovo’s server platforms are Energy Star qualified, a certification indicating their energy efficient performance. The organisation has also invested in direct water-cooling infrastructure that introduces more efficient cooling for data centres as opposed to relying on traditional air cooling.

Improving technology lifecycles

Of course, every manufacturer has a role to play to accelerate efforts as ways of improving the technology lifecycle are identified. As a first step, more energy efficient hardware, efficient data management policies, and optimised cooling such as new liquid cooling systems can help create an IT environment where the use of computing resources are optimised. At the same time, this can prolong the lifecycle of assets.

Additionally, there are several changes that can be done at an industry level to reduce the risk of environmentally damaging waste. It is important to set a high bar in terms of recycling, reusing, or repairing all the material and equipment to stop them from ending up as landfill. It is therefore important for IT manufacturers to use packaging material that is recycled and sustainable, while eliminating plastic.

Materials like sugar cane and bamboo are highly effective for packaging. This helps ensure responsible asset recovery and data disposal. Using these materials will enable a manufacturer to move closer towards closing the loop on product lifecycle and eliminate the amount of plastic packaging waste.

Since 2005, Lenovo’s research and development teams have been working with post-consumer content suppliers to help develop new grades of plastic resins for reuse in the manufacturing process when it comes to new products. Currently, Lenovo has used more that 110 million pounds of recycled plastic and 12 million pounds of closed-loop recycled content in products and packaging.

Emerging technology innovation

Beyond this, the biggest environmental impact from IT is still the data centre and the resultant energy consumption. Currently, around 1% of global electricity is used to power data centres. As we progress towards a world where data is projected to grow to 463 exabytes of data being created daily by 2025, electricity consumption will rapidly multiply.

Of course, the energy impact goes beyond just the electrical. According to a US Government report, a data centre will need an average of 1.8 litres of water for every kWh consumed, predominantly for air conditioning purposes. This means that technologies that can improve the efficiency of data centres are going to have the greatest impact. For example, proper data storage and data management policies can help companies reduce the amount of redundant data or inefficient data storage. In turn, this can reduce the requirements of having extra computing resources in place and thereby reducing consumption of power and water.

Enterprises should consider updating their IT infrastructure with modern hardware and infrastructure systems that have been built with energy efficiency in mind. These should be compliant with programmes like Energy Star or SPECpower benchmarks that measure the energy efficiency of a server.

Going green

Companies in South Africa and the rest of the world can benefit tremendously from adopting green technologies. In doing so, they can actively contribute to the national sustainability goals and objectives of their countries and also reap numerous benefits for themselves. If nothing else, this enables the business to meet its own corporate sustainability targets.

Many South African business have sustainability agendas as these form a critical part of the ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) reporting components required by law. However, this helps pave the way towards a better, cleaner, and safer environment. Implementing sustainable solutions can result in reducing energy consumption, and therefore reducing power bills adding significantly to the corporate bottom line.

Along with direct savings for reducing the energy to power IT systems, more efficient IT systems will consume less cooling, which means lower water bills, and less cost for facilities cooling. In turn, the more efficient operating of IT systems contributes towards longer life cycles for a lower long-term operating-cost. The world has irrevocably moved towards sustainable technology. Now is the time for manufacturers the world over to embrace it.

Arnold Tshimnga: Account Director: Technology Practice
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