Target low-hanging fruits of sustainability, firms urged

Singapore organizations should focus on goals within reach, such as energy efficiency, and have a holistic green strategy for sustainable business practices, say execs.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Whether the motivations behind being green stem from economics, brand reputation or environmental consciousness, businesses can and should harvest the low-hanging fruits, such as green IT, on their own accord now--before regulations become a reality, according to the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

Speaking at a Monday media briefing for the Singapore Sustainability Awards, SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit noted that more corporations are innovating and implementing green and sustainable practices not just for cost savings but as a part of a corporate social responsibility (SCR) program and a competitive differentiator in branding and reputation.

He also acknowledged government regulations as another imperative for sustainability. "If [environmental impact and pollution] begin to be priced, then corporate behavior will change," said Ho.

Singapore businesses, he observed, are not yet ready for green regulations, but should prepare for them by focusing on low-hanging fruit such as energy efficiency and green IT, which are within their capabilities.

Now in its second year, the awards aim to recognize organizations that have "successfully overcome sustainability challenges with leading sustainable business practices". To that end, they are in part about "harvesting low-hanging fruits that companies can do on their own because it's good for their business and good for their profile without having a set of regulations which may or may not necessarily be the best solution" at the moment, said Ho.

The executive estimated that regulations may kick in in a post-Kyoto Protocol era, when higher targets are needed and the low-hanging fruits have been plucked, the executive estimated, adding that this could take place "when we run our ninth, tenth edition of the awards".

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement where participating countries agree to lower carbon emissions by an average of 5 percent between 2008 and 2012, against levels in the 1990s.

More than green server room
This year's recipient of the Green IT Award for enterprises is the National Library Board (NLB). According to Linus Lee, Asean services line leader for data centers at IBM Global Technology Services and Big Blue's representative on the panel of judges, the criteria for this award was based on a corporation's entire program and perspective of green IT--rather than simply a green data center.

Lee Kee Siang, NLB's infocomm director, told ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the briefing that one of the major green IT initiatives of the organization was server consolidation via virtualization.

While he did not give exact figures, Lee said since virtualization was implemented about four years ago, NLB had reaped substantial savings from downsizing server and datacenter space as well as lower energy consumption.

Other green IT efforts within the NLB include offering thin clients for public use in the library branches and selecting e-waste recycling and disposal companies with green priorities to help retire old computers and equipment, he added.

Asked if green IT is more costly to implement, Lee said initiatives such as virtualization was a "natural step" to take as aside from cost savings in the long term, it promises better efficiency in supporting the wider library community.

Lee also emphasized that NLB's green IT initiatives are closely aligned with the organization's corporate social responsibility program. The library board, he noted, views being sustainable as more than just technology--it also emphasizes on green buildings and encourages green practices among staff such as double-sided printing.

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