I am live at the Corporate Climate Response event and during the first panel – the participants shared many interesting lessons from their experiences in spearheading climate response initiatives at their own organisations. A key challenge for each was getting the buy-in at higher levels in these initiatives and the ongoing difficulty in securing capital expenditures and budgets to implement programs. Rather than focusing on the costs of initiatives, each of the panelists shared insights on changes that can be implemented by organisations without the necessity of large expenditures. Here are just a few of the ideas they shared:

1. Use Your Procurement Budget for Leverage – Each of the companies participating in the panel already has significant budget allocated towards supplies and materials required to run their businesses. Selecting vendors based on green policies or making sustainability policies a criteria for selection are immediate changes that organisations can make to affect change.

2. Optimise Design for Efficiency – Richard Gillies from Marks and Spencer shared an engaging story about how making a single change from curved fridges to “normal” straight ones made a big impact in retail in terms of products that could fit into the case, as well as a large impact in operational efficiency, reducing the energy cost of running these fridges by 14% per year.

3. Responsible Travel and Travel Substitution – Jason Leonard of Standard Chartered Bank shared the unique challenge of his organisation around travel due to the fact that 97% of employees are based outside the UK. A key tenet of their program, therefore, is to encourage responsible travel. Chris Tuppen from BT shared an interesting way that BT is dealing with this issue by having a feature on their intranet that lets each employee know the carbon footprint of a trip at the point when they book it. As BT has a significant investment in video conferencing, Tuppen also advocated “travel substitution” with video conferencing or similar technology.

4. Changing Employee Behaviour – One of the ideas advocated by Burts and BT was offering employees options to help them make behaviour changes in their daily roles. From simply turning off lights to recycling in the workplace – encouraging employees to take steps themselves is an important step in making these policies part of the fabric of a corporate culture.

5. Rethinking Datacenter Standards
– Anyone working in technology is well aware of the large energy drain required to run a datacenter – mainly focused on keeping it cool. An interesting anecdote shared by Dr. Chris Tuppen was about how the temperature requirements of today’s datacenter are often based on a standard that was originally created in response to the tendency for magnetic tape to break under higher temperatures. Many datacenters today use no tape, and yet their temperature standards for cooling have remain unchanged. Rethinking these standards simply requires education and a willingness to change.

Note: This is a republished entry that was originally posted on the Climate Response Blog.