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Mar 26 2009

Ten things to manage in a recession: 5 – cut power

This is the fifth in a series expanding on my friend Ross Sturleys’ Ten Things to Cut in a Recession Before You Cut Your Marketing (presented at last month’s CIMCIG conference and in recent Construction News marketing e-newsletters).

Number five: “Cut power”

Ross makes the fairly simple plea: turn stuff off. Faced with escalating electricity bills and office practices that rarely seem to involve using less energy, Ross says you should “Get someone to go through your office at the end of the day and turn everything off – faxes, computer screens, printers, copiers, lights – just unplug them from the wall.” The cost savings – and the carbon efficiency gains – can be substantial, for example: by turning off just one conventional computer overnight we can save 235kg of CO2 in a year.

Once again, there are some technological aspects to reducing expensive power consumption that could also be considered. In the past 12 months, I have written extensively about this while blogging for BIW on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), sustainability and related topics. Among the measures to consider:

  1. Get efficient. – In Greening the office environment, I noted advice from UK consultant Davis Langdon about designing in more efficient IT equipment, including ‘blade servers’ and flatscreen monitors to reduce the office carbon load. The advice also suggested…
  2. … get thin. – A ‘Thin client‘ is less complex than a PC and contains fewer components, increasing its life over that of a normal PC and reducing maintenance and support costs and thus energy consumption. It was one of the approaches advocated last year in the UK Greening Government ICT report (for more, see this post).
  3. Get virtual. – Last year Bracknell Forest Borough Council realised that nobody uses all of the capabilities of a desktop PC, and that management of the device was getting more complex – not to mention the power they used and the CO2 they produced. The council began to change things by using thin-client technology and desktop virtualisation, achieving efficiency and cost savings – up to 40% in some cases – by adopting virtual desktops (see this post).
  4. Get SaaSy. – SaaS solutions remove the requirement to host and support applications on hardware in your own premises, and being paid for by subscription can be implemented and maintained at relatively low cost (and for marketing purposes, consider customer relationship management, CRM, software – Salesforce.com is one of the best known SaaS-based examples). SaaS code is lean and simple, lightening its processing load, and by centralising such processing in purpose-built data-centres creates efficiencies of scale in use of equipment and energy (see SaaStainability post Will going green sink your business?). And by opting for SaaS solutions, you also remove the need for expensive and resource-hungry in-house support teams to manage those applications.
  5. Go home. – At TechRepublic last year, in 10 ways to convince your boss to let you work from home, Susan Harkins delivered a 10-point justification of home-working that highlighted (point 1) that your place is cheaper than their’s (read Home working: it’s the green thing to do for more on the other nine points). [Update (31 March 2009): Expanding on the home-working theme, why not make better use of the office space you already have?]
  6. Go to fewer meetings. Last year, in How to cut your fuel bills 80% or more, SaaS guru Phil Wainwright wrote about the potential of remote interrogation of computer systems plus web meeting services to reduce travel costs associated with meetings – a particular bugbear for many construction people. Citing the example of a US builder in Oregon, he says: “Web-based meetings are more productive than phone calls, since participants can all view the same plans, pictures or documents, and they help maintain contact and trust with clients and project collaborators in between face-to-face meetings.” (see also this post)
  7. Go tell. – And when you’ve done all the above, why not tell the world about it? Energy-saving can be a powerful part of an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility regime, and you might want to include your achievements in your PR and marketing messages.

What other administration strategies could help you cut your organisation’s power consumption? Let me know.

Coming soon: Number seven: Cut corporate entertainment (Update [1 June 2009]: Number six: “Cut IT” was, in fact, the first of this series)

1 comment

3 pings

  1. On the Money

    Home-working employees … ! (Reduce power needs and other office overheads.)

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