How your company can build a greener future through sustainable technology

Tristan Ovington
By Tristan Ovington
Updated May 16, 2023

In many ways, sustainable technology can sound like a contradiction in terms. It is a huge challenge to reduce environmental and ecological risks while investing in new technological and managerial measures to stay competitive.

However, the economic and political changes of 2019 and the Covid pandemic have shown the planet that it is essential to consider lower energy consumption and reduced carbon emissions for a sustainable future.

We must ask many questions to achieve sustainable technology goals involving energy efficiency. For example, how do we begin defining sustainable technology? How do sustainable technology solutions reduce greenhouse gas emissions? And what sustainable technology and renewable energy examples can we look at to make our organization greener?

We will explore all of these questions, beginning with a definition.

Defining sustainable technology 

Sustainable technology encompasses solutions that consider natural resources and promote economic and social progress. These technologies aim to reduce negative environmental impacts and create sustainable technology products that allow companies to practice in an environmentally friendly manner.

Sustainable technology definitions exist in three stages:

1. Substitution

This technology encourages a transition from non-biodegradable to biodegradable components in its manufacturing and exchange of non-renewable with renewable sources.

2. Prevention 

By utilizing sustainable technology, we can drastically reduce deterioration, contamination, and other detrimental environmental impacts caused by our actions.

3. Efficiency 

Utilizing the latest technologies, this system is a powerhouse of energy and resource consumption efficiency. 

Armed with the definition of sustainable technologies, we can look at how to use them to reduce emissions.

Examples of sustainable technology and renewable energy

As businesses become more mindful of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), creating a sustainable office is an ideal way to not only reduce costs, but also improve workspaces and provide employees with higher quality working conditions.

Examples of technologies deployed to resolve or alleviate complex environmental issues include:

  • Increasing equipment lifecycle by only activating screens, AV equipment, lighting and air conditioning when necessary. This action leads to fewer repairs or maintenance will be needed over time as these systems remain in good condition for a longer period of time.
  • Saving by leveraging floorspace, making occupancy rate of conference rooms and desks more efficient and allowing you to determine how much office space is necessary in the long run. This insight enables you to make more sustainable decisions for your business. 
  • Smart energy consumption becomes an easy process when everyone books their workplaces and meeting rooms in advance, you can accurately anticipate usage of all areas. For example, if the occupancy rate on Friday is 45%, due to colleagues working remotely or taking a day off, you could choose to close certain floors or sections. This action reduces energy costs as you do not need to turn on lights, heating and air conditioning units on those floors. 
  • Employing innovative, sustainable water techniques like reusing wastewater and purifying saltwater are simple, cost-effective changes vital for sustaining our environment and securing savings.

Since we know examples of sustainable products, we can begin to understand the benefits of using these products in your business.

Top three benefits of sustainable technology for enterprises 

By embracing a “green” platform, enterprises  can gain tremendous benefits which extend far beyond environmental preservation. From improved finances and employee productivity to lowered costs and higher efficiency, eco-friendly technology can contribute to a more positive work environment and culture. Moreover, a green thumb benefits businesses in the following ways: 

1. Reduce risk and improve project outcomes 

Green business methods can help organizations recover from even the most devastating disasters. This aspect is one of the most promising features of cloud-based business services.

Essential documents, payroll, customer information, and other data are all saved online, allowing you to instantly return to your routine after a catastrophe.

Depending on your business type, it’s possible to work anywhere with an internet connection after your establishment has been devastated by a tornado or other unexpected event. This point alone has the potential to save on hardware expenses, technical support staff wages, and networking maintenance.

Moreover, leveraging eco-friendly technology can be a game changer for productivity. For example, cloud computing is much more efficient than searching through filing cabinets. Mobile devices, messaging systems, and even appliances that purify the air are all technologies that can increase performance in the workplace with little expense and high long-term sustainability.

2. Boost revenue

Reduce paper costs using digital alternatives. Businesses can considerably decrease their office supply expenses by transitioning to more eco-friendly technology in the workplace. Moreover, you should avoid costs associated with printer ink cartridges replacements. 

By embracing an environmentally conscious system of operation within your company, these overhead expenditures will undoubtedly reduce while allowing for extra space in the storage area due to lower stationery requirements.

3. Recruit and maintain exceptional employees

By implementing eco-friendly technology in the workplace, businesses can significantly enhance employee health and well-being. Air quality, temperature control, and HVAC filtration lead to fewer sick days. 

Additionally, improved workplace environments facilitated by eco-friendly tech provide the team with a morale boost, resulting in higher employee retention and productivity.

Now that we have some examples of the benefits of sustainable technology products, we can begin to examine how to use these products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How do sustainable technology solutions reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

As the effects of climate change become increasingly alarming, we must not overlook that the World Economic Forum shows that commitments for 2030 will only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5%.

To stay on track with the objectives outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, a 55% reduction is required before 2030. Achieving this goal will involve shifting the focus of the tech companies of our modern world toward efficiency, circularity, and sustainability. Digital technology will be instrumental in helping us meet this goal as we use its power to propel us toward an efficient and sustainable digital transformation.

By embracing digital technologies, even the highest-emitting energy, materials, and mobility sectors can reduce their emissions by up to 20% come 2050. Even before this time, these industries can lower their carbon footprint by 4-10% through accelerated adoption of digital tools. Successful implementation at this scale necessitates data transparency, access to digital expertise, and robust partnerships within the industry.

IntenCity, a UK fitness company, is a shining example of technological advancement, as the Schneider Electric Building possesses an expansive network of internet-of-things (IoT) enabled solutions. The World Green Building Council shows that this innovative example of comprehensive digital architecture records and stores up to 60,000 data points every ten minutes – effortlessly combining technology and sustainability data.

The builders installed 4,000 m2 of solar panels and two vertical wind turbines to support its operations further. IntenCity has a Building Information Modeling System; this precise replication can imitate the building’s energy patterns.  

Now that we see how sustainable technology can reduce emissions, let’s dive into how your business can consume and use technology more sustainably.

How can businesses consume & use technology more sustainably?

Investing in technology that reduces energy consumption, upgrades infrastructures, and eliminates unnecessary processes goes beyond hitting green targets. Taking this point a step further, sustainability is a powerful way to control unavoidable overhead expenses such as infrastructure maintenance. 

Looking at specific examples, a cloud host that can modify infrastructure according to the business’s needs and easily offer real-time systems updates and management is essential. This solution boosts productivity and conserves resources for your organization.

Cloud scalability is a precious investment for businesses, as it helps control costs and provides sustainable savings across technology. This action leads to improved business sustainability in the long run.

Consolidating tools is an excellent and beneficial way to use technology. By centralizing data points, businesses can generate improved structures while eliminating inefficient software that consumes energy and money. This strategy is a practical and sustainable way for companies to lower costs without sacrificing quality or productivity.

But your sustainable technology use doesn’t have to end there. When you use it correctly, sustainable tech also drives ESG outcomes in three key areas.

Sustainable technology drives ESG Outcomes in three key areas 

Many investors with a social conscience choose to employ ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria to evaluate potential investments. Environmental standards consider how the company tackles climate change through corporate policies, while social factors analyze its relationships with customers, employees, suppliers, and nearby communities. 

Finally, governance reviews leadership structures, executive pay, internal audits & controls that guarantee shareholder rights are respected.

ESG goals are split into three groups, beginning with internal IT operations.

1. Internal IT operations 

Sustainable IT leverages existing technology using the least resources with reliable tools, hardware, and vendors. To achieve this goal, companies must reduce Scope 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — indirect emissions from electricity used for IT purposes and those outside an organization’s direct control, such as disused tech. 

Furthermore, it involves focusing on essential topics like human rights protection, ethical sourcing methods, and supply chain transparency to ensure sustainability in all operations.

Examples of effective solutions include using robots for recycling to support circular economy principles in IT. Furthermore, outsourcing IT operations to sustainable operators like hyper-scale cloud providers are often viable for many companies.

By optimizing IT resources, businesses can expect to witness financial growth. In addition, by utilizing consumption-based pricing that links costs to resource usage, companies can benefit from sustainability impacts such as reduced carbon emissions and e-waste.

2. Enterprise operations

Sustainable companies should strive for transparency regarding their sourcing and trade practices, energy and material efficiency, emission reduction goals, and fair labor standards. Sustainable practices often demonstrate high ethical integrity.

Businesses have the chance to progress ESG objectives across all areas of their business, including:

  • Taking advantage of automation helps to streamline laborious tasks, saving staff time and resources to dedicate to more complex tasks.
  • Leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language processing technologies to accurately anticipate climate change’s effects on their operations.
  • Gaining more profound insights into your business performance with advanced analytics offers up-to-the-minute data analysis.
  • Utilizing the cloud revolutionizes processes, promotes remote work, and allows companies to achieve greater efficiency.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of your business operations, establish and prioritize technological investments that will significantly impact your mission’s objectives.

3. Customer operations

Sustainable technology provides a platform to propose products and services that help customers achieve their sustainability objectives. To do this effectively, it is essential to comprehend the primary concerns of customers and harmonize them with one another, even if they appear conflicting in nature at times. 

For example, some clients may need an eco-friendly product but are not ready to compromise cost or quality. Ensure your goods and services reflect how each customer’s engagement contributes to attaining their sustainability goals.

But despite all your company’s efforts to achieve ESG outcomes, it can be easy to feel like your actions are a drop in an already heavily polluted ocean. At such times, it is helpful to take a step back to reflect and consider the positive steps the planet is taking toward a greener future.

The future of sustainable technology: Do we stand a chance? 

The environmental and ecological risks of decades of business growth have taken their toll, and it can be disheartening to try to begin tackling such a widespread, global issue. However, there is a lot of hope in summits such as COP26, which often lead to sustainable technological and managerial measures such as regulations and guidance that companies use to create digital technologies with a green focus.

Global COP26 impact

COP26 has left a positive mark on climate change plans and commitments worldwide. The summit has achieved various aims so far, such as:

  • 20+ nations and financial organizations have promised to cease any funding of overseas fossil fuel development activities.
  • With an audacious pledge, U.S. President Joe Biden has asserted that global methane emissions will drop by 30% within ten years. This bold endeavor is essential in safeguarding our world for forthcoming generations and fighting climate change.

Seeing world leaders agree on regulations can help boost motivation and guide sustainable business policies and practices.

Compulsory climate transparency for companies

In the United Kingdom, The Environment Act 2021 regulates all large companies concerning climate change, meaning they have to disclose climate-related financial information. This law took effect in April 2022, and we can anticipate corporations being more open regarding their dedication to sustainability.

In the United States, the EPA provides a wide array of digital tools for businesses with reduced emissions, such as GHG emission calculators and inventory management plans. These tools allow firms to measure and monitor their environmental impact more effectively.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Ground-breaking computer software leverages machine learning to imitate human intelligence. AI has the potential to execute tasks with remarkable accuracy, ultimately reducing vast amounts of waste – whether that’s resources or time spent on manual labor-related activities.

AI technology has emerged as a powerful ally during manufacturing processes, automating numerous steps within the production chain and thus lowering operational expenses, which can then be reinvested into new clean tech initiatives.

Impact investing

Impact investing is an effective way of earning a profit while helping to support companies with positive environmental goals. Businesses that put their resources into greater improvements and growth, allowing for more significant returns, receive impact investments.

The progression of impact investing provides further incentives for companies to take a clean-tech approach. An eco-friendly lifestyle is the intended direction; cleaner technology encourages this daily.

Cut environmental and ecological risks to boost profits

Sustainable technology will become more widespread as environmental awareness increases and businesses see that green tech is not just a PR trend but a necessary action to protect the future of the environment and the business world. The leading sustainable tech companies that continue to invest in sustainable technologies reduce financial waste, increase staff well-being and mitigate against financial risks.

For all these reasons, organizations of any size must invest in sustainable technology today at every level, from product design to manufacturing to supply chains. Only then can companies secure a brighter future for themselves and their staff.

How your company can build a greener future through sustainable technology
Tristan Ovington
By Tristan Ovington
Tristan Ovington, an accomplished senior writer and journalist, typically contributes his expertise to the Enterprisers Project. Renowned for his valuable perspectives on digital adoption, digital transformation, change management, and Cloud applications.