One of the best ways to tell if a green IT services firm really has what it takes to handle your company's carbon and energy management strategy is to look at what that company is doing internally to manage its own corporate sustainability metrics. That's the spirit of a new report from independent analyst firm Verdantix, which has just released a Carbon Strategy Benchmark that looks at the strategies of 14 different enterprise technology services firms.
The companies covered in the report include: Accenture, Atos Origin, BT Global Services, Capgemini, CSC, Fujitsu Services, Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Infosys, Logica, Orange Business Services, TCS and Wipro.
The first thing you will notice is that these companies are at very different stages of maturity. The ones that aren't "pure" services companies -- Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP and IBM -- actually have an advantage because they also run manufacturing operations. Those companies have spent longer looking at the impact of energy management and supply chain metrics. The location of the company's operations will also have an impact, Verdantix reports. So, for example, Capgemini and Orange will have fewer opportunities for greenhouse gas emissions reductions because their primary data centers are in nuclear-powered France and they already started from a lower-footprint position.
The thing all of these companies are grappling with, Verdantix reports, is the shift to cloud computing. That's because as the clients of these companies outsource more of their applications to the cloud, the cloud service provider ends up using more energy.
In the press release for the report, Verdantix Senior Manager Janet Lin (who works in the firm's New York office), notes:
"Many firms in the sector consume more energy every year but claim to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by buying green tariff electricity or renewable energy certificates. This is a corporate marketing expense reminiscent of pre-recession corporate responsibility initiatives. Executives should scrutinize the business value of spending on carbon strategies that achieve reduction targets without tacking energy consumption or energy efficiency."
Here are some other interesting tidbits from the report that I have randomly selected:
- One firm, CSC, is still in the early stages of reporting its carbon emissions. Verdantix figures that the company only reports on about half of its operations. Five other firms report most of their emissions, but not all. They are (in no particular order) Infosys, TCS, Wipro, Hitachi and Atos Origin.
- The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) Protocol from the World Resources Institute is the primary reporting tool for these firms.
- The overall aggregate emissions for all of the firms is 37 million tons of carbon dioxide; one of the reasons the number is so high is that it includes the manufacturing operations of Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi and IBM. If those numbers were taken out, the number would be closer to 5.4 million tons.
- Fujitsu has the lowest carbon reduction plan of the companies in this sector; Infosys has the most aggressive plan, aiming for a net-zero position over time (although the end point isn't ever stated).
- Six of the companies have invested in on-site renewable energy generation.
- Five of the services firms have managed to cut energy consumption from their baseline year. They are Capgemini, CSC, HP, IBM, and Logica.