By Susan J. Campbell
As much as we have come to rely on communications technologies to stay connected and streamline business processes, those providing the access must still pay attention to the impact on the environment. Eco-sustainability in fact is emerging not just as an issue of being a good corporate neighbor, but as important for being a preferred provider of products and services. This is why it has become important that the telecommunications industry use a uniform protocol for measuring the eco-impact of its services and networks.
A recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine article, Seven Steps to Greater Green House Gas Awareness in ICT, explored this topic. It highlights the new global standards designed to create a unified approach to the measurement of green house gas emissions. Focus is on current life cycle assessment tools such as those developed by Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) which can be employed by ICT vendors, particularly the telecom ones, for estimating the eco-impact of services and/or networks in a meaningful and actionable way.
The good news is that current approaches offer flexibility in terms of the available data and the business purpose of assessments. Thus, by adhering to specified guidelines, service providers are able to more effectively and efficiently pinpoint potential problem areas, report on improvements and maintain best practices that can impact the environment.
A brief review of the ALU’s seven steps for doing a comprehensive assessment is instructive:
- Define the business purpose of the assessment – each scenario may be different necessitating the need to clearly define the business purpose at the outset.
- Define the scope – include a review of all equipment used, operational activities and a description of the function of the service.
- Identify life cycle stages of the network, service or product – two stages are likely to exist: the embodied stage, or manufacturing, distribution, installation and end of life, and the use stage where the service is used and maintained.
- Establish an inventory – measurements must be established for both the use and embodied stages.
- Review allocation – multiple services may be sharing telecom equipment, or a single service is shared across multiple networks. An appropriate distribution of the emissions must be allocated to a specific service or network in the assessment process.
- Selecting a calculation model – this should be suited to the specific business purpose, as well as to the quality and amount of information available in the process.
- Completing the calculations – detailed recommendations on the calculation of emissions are included in the ICT Sector Guidance of the GHG Protocol Standards. Guidelines are organized according to service platform, customer domain and operational activities.
Those familiar with the next generation communications online community are probably aware from reading the featured articles and blogs of the past few years of ALU’s commitment doing well by doing good. From the top down, the company takes seriously not only its responsibilities to be a good steward of the earth’s resources, but its belief that its solutions should enable its customers to have a strong eco-sustainability strategy so they can do likewise, and that doing so is good for business as well as the environment.
Under the category that you can’t fix or improve what you cannot measure accurately, having the best tools and the right strategy for doing comprehensive eco-impact assessments is an important part of making sure ICT’s contribution to eco-sustainability it optimal. The TechZine article is a good place to start for obtaining detailed information on the seven steps, as well as the next steps you company may wish to institute to be a better environmental steward.