SMEs can use tech to fight climate change

28 Nov 2008

BT Business has launched an ‘Understanding Green Business Practices’ to help Irish SMEs understand how sustainable business practices and ICT can help the world and their bottom line.

In Dublin yesterday, Dr Chris Tuppen, BT’s chief sustainability officer – recently named as one of The Guardian newspaper’s Top 50 people most likely to save the world from climatic disaster – reminded Irish SMEs how they can make a difference.

“The 250,000 SMEs in Ireland are not only the lifeblood of the economy, but they can make a big difference to tackling climate change, while at the same time discover new long-term commercial opportunities.”

Tuppin outlined five key business practices businesses can act on immediately.

Firstly, they can use technology to reduce travel for meetings. Use of technology, like audio conferencing and web collaboration, will help reduce the need to travel, would save on CO2 emissions and also cut expenditure on air tickets, train tickets and petrol, as well as driving productivity.

Secondly, they can use technology to reduce unnecessary trips back to the office by using mobile-working solutions. Using remote access technologies, like Wi-Fi, can ensure employees do not have to make additional trips back to the office following meetings. With a reduction in employee car travel would come reduced CO2 emissions.

Employees, he suggested, should shut down computers and other electrical kit at the end of the day. As well as helping the environment, turning off equipment cuts electricity bills.

Businesses, he went on, should use recycled stationery and save paper. If every SME in the Ireland switched to using recycled paper, small businesses would collectively save on water.

And finally, Tuppin urged the adoption of flexible working. By supporting employees working from home for just one day a week for a year, small businesses could collectively reduce CO2 emissions.

“In our guide, we demonstrate how small steps – when taken by the SME community as a whole – can make a massive difference,” Liam O’Brien, managing director BT Business, explained.

“The good news is that when SMEs use IT and communications technology to act in a more sustainable way, they will also benefit from reduced costs, an enhanced reputation with customers, and greater productivity among their employees,” O’Brien said.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years