Recent political and climate-related environmental events have impacted energy sourcing, supply and costs. The resulting energy crisis impacts all countries, industries, sectors and societies across Europe. Combined with imminent reporting requirements from the European Commission, saving and securing energy sustainably and moving to renewable energy sources equitably is imperative.

The immediate energy crisis coincides with the equally crucial long-term journey to sustainability. A traditional management mindset could see this imperative as an onerous obligation that could cut into profitability. But evidence shows that sustainability efforts unlock value and innovation throughout the organization. Numerous reports cite a direct correlation between sustainable practices, share prices and business performance. According to a recent IBV report, 83% of CEOs expect sustainability investments to produce improved business results in the next five years.

Meeting the needs of energy saving and security, regulatory compliance, cost savings and sustainability requires technological solutions paired with a reconsideration of business processes throughout the entire enterprise.

We see five key functional areas IT and operations executives can assess for transformation:

1. Asset and facility management

Integrated asset management helps organizations minimize the environmental impact of their operations across the asset lifecycle and extend asset life through predictive maintenance and condition monitoring. More accurate replacement planning can help companies minimize and consolidate technician visits, reducing use and saving energy.

Intelligent integrated workplace management software can help organizations infuse sustainability into their real estate and facilities management operations. Criteria for sustainability (such as ISO 14000) can easily be specified for space acquisition or leases, and for construction and renovation projects. Carbon footprints can be reduced through space optimization and planning, and by extending asset life through improved maintenance and assessment.

2. IT: infrastructure and code

The global power capacity of data centers has grown by 43% since 2019. Data centers can account for a large portion of an organization’s energy use, making environmentally sustainable computing more critical. This year’s generation of servers can reduce energy consumption by up to 75%, space by 50% and the carbon emissions footprint by more than 850 metric tons per year, compared to x86 servers under similar conditions.

Hybrid cloud is also a critical enabler of green IT, facilitating increased visibility, greater integration and enhanced capabilities across the cloud estate. Moreover, running workloads in a container platform instead of classically deployed virtual machine environments can reduce annual infrastructure costs by 75%, thanks in part to increased energy efficiency.

The choice of code matters too. Using the right language for the right workload can reduce computing power, and therefore energy usage. Switching from one programming language to another can reduce the energy consumption of an application by up to 50%.

3. Sustainable supply chain and circularity

Through intelligent workflows and automation, companies can reduce waste and improve circularity. Making shipping and routing more efficient and trackable reduces costs and warehouse space, and thus reduces the carbon footprint. It also helps organizations ensure provenance. With 80% of consumers saying sustainability is important to them, and 60% willing to change their purchasing habits based on environmental impact, such assurance can improve consumer loyalty.

Intelligent order management software also marries sustainability to customer satisfaction by allowing companies to consolidate shipments into fewer packages. Integration with carbon-accounting engines allows carbon savings to be shown to online shoppers as they make their shipping choices.

4. Transitioning to sustainable energy sources

Becoming a sustainable enterprise requires a rigorous strategy and roadmap. It encompasses all areas of the organisation right through to enabling customers. It includes ESG reporting and finance, climate risk assessment and adaptation, responsible computing and green IT, a circular supply chain and decarbonization and clean energy transition.

Decarbonization and clean energy transition alone spans many areas including distributed energy, grid resilience, alternative fuels and emissions, flexible energy, new energy systems, mobile energy and low-carbon customers. Moving to a low carbon physical infrastructure, low carbon energy markets, EV platform enablement and digital product business for consumers are among the tactics that can be deployed.

Few organisations have a complete portfolio of these capabilities. Working with partners who can co-create these strategies using proven, repeatable methods, and leveraging extensive partner ecosystems can accelerate realization times on an organization’s journeys to net zero.

5. ESG and risk management

ESG platforms can help organizations build a single system of record that delivers auditable, finance-grade ESG and sustainability data. They enable efficient monitoring of energy demand, consumption and emissions across organizations by capturing data from utility bills, interval meters and renewable assets. When combined with weather and facility information, they can provide a granular data foundation for use with enterprise asset management software, improving predictive insights. ESG platforms also enable organizations to meet increasing regulatory reporting requirements.

Effective use of these platforms can help corporations take the right actions at the right time, reducing corporate risk and the financial and environmental impact of disasters.

Embodying sustainability

IBM leads the way for clients because we embody innovation in sustainability within our organization. We have set precedents for environmental and social commitments for over 50 years, starting with our first corporate policy on environmental affairs, enacted in 1971. Our 21 current environmental commitments include achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2030 and diverting 90% of nonhazardous waste (by weight) from landfill and incineration by 2025, which we report on annually in our ESG Report, IBM Impact. We also promote environmental justice programs such as the IBM Sustainability Accelerator and Call For Code, enabling organizations and communities to tackle environmental issues.

Proven methods, comprehensive solutions

IBM helps customers save and secure energy sustainably while complying with increasing regulatory demands. We operationalize sustainability end-to-end with data-driven innovation through a comprehensive and growing portfolio of industry-leading consulting and technology capabilities. With an ecosystem of partners, we co-create solutions to uncover new opportunities while finding cost efficiencies, without trade-offs or compromising profitability.

Talk to IBM about your sustainability challenges

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