Making the transition to a low-carbon economy provides substantial benefits to companies that are strategically adopting digital technologies, writes Telstra Environment General Manager, Pauline Gregg.

At Telstra, we started investigating the cost and carbon reduction potential of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) almost 10 years ago when we released the report ‘Towards a High Bandwidth Low-Carbon Future’. This report investigated the financial and environmental benefits of seven ICT opportunities, such as teleworking and video-conferencing.

In 2014 we revisited the findings of this work in Connecting with a Low Carbon Future. We found that these seven opportunities, if realised, could save businesses and consumers up to $8.1 billion in energy and travel costs a year, while also cutting Australia’s national carbon emissions by 4.7 per cent. We also found that innovation since 2007 has seen the emergence of a number of new technologies with further cost and carbon reduction potential, such as cloud computing.

Recently, leading Australian companies like the National Australia Bank (NAB) and Jurlique have added value to their production methods by using technology to improve efficiency, decrease carbon emissions, reduce waste, and lower energy costs.

Banking on emissions reduction

Leading Australian bank NAB adopted several sustainability-related projects throughout last year, but started by capturing a baseline of its carbon footprint.

We then worked closely with NAB to identify process improvements, review IT hardware configuration at the bank’s data centres, pinpoint opportunities to save space, power and infrastructure costs, and to update equipment disposal procedures to improve deployment rates and reduce waste.

The manager of cross-functional services at NAB, Mark Welsh, said the partnership presented a great opportunity for NAB. Welsh says. “It’s been great to see one of our major suppliers taking such a proactive approach to helping us achieve our efficiency targets.”

Helping businesses work smarter to reduce environmental impact through their information and communications technology is an important step forward to delivering environmental improvement across an enterprise.

Cloud computing: higher efficiency, lower emissions

With its 30th anniversary in 2015, Australian cosmetic brand Jurlique faced the challenge of ensuring its internal systems were able to confront their global expansion, while maintaining the demands of strong sales growth locally in Australia.

Jurlique was able to see that they needed technologies that combined process improvement with reduced environmental impacts, adding substantial value while delivering on a low-carbon emissions result.

Ultimately this involved adopting Telstra’s Cloud Services for data processing, storage and disaster recovery requirements, enabling the company to apply more agile work practices, boost productivity and improve communications across its offices. The net saving from making this switch is 79 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, with a financial saving of $24,000 annually. In addition to this, advanced video-conferencing services have helped the company cut down on staff travel, delivering transport savings of 20 percent while boosting operational agility.

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