Being a responsible corporate citizen and finding ways to give back to the communities where you operate, sustainability is an essential corporate goal.

For most businesses, there are innumerable ways to minimize your environmental footprint. Now, this process begins by looking at how technology and better policies can help your operations thrive.

Business owners need to take time to gain clarity on how emerging technologies can improve efficiency and sustainability of their businesses. Whether it’s investing green server systems or adopting the non-traditional processes of the dissemination of data, there is an immense scope waiting to be explored.

Decreasing your environmental impact is a brilliant way to live out your organization’s greater objectives and have a meaningful impact that goes beyond profits. Presented below are some practical, hands-on approaches that organizations can embrace to improve their sustainability.

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Source: Pixabay

1. Unveil The Potential of Crowdsourcing

Organizations from the pre-digital era still think that public meetings, stakeholder panels and the occasional online or in-store survey are sufficient for knowing the pulse of their consumers and investors.

On the other hand, organizations that have embraced web 2.0 realize the world of opportunities offered by the process of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing involves obtaining information, or opinions from a group of people who submit their data through the Internet, social media, and Smartphone apps.

The tech-savvy organizations are eager to associate with crowds to monitor their reputation, get feedback on sustainable innovations and ask for help in solving difficult dilemmas. For example, through the LEGO Ideas platform, users are encouraged to submit ideas for new LEGO sets and provide feedback on those submitted by others. Ideas with over 10,000 votes are monitored by LEGO. If the idea is selected, the submitter works with LEGO team to execute it and receives royalties on sales.

2. Explore App Farming

The war of the computing giants has turned into the battle of the apps, spawning a new generation of software applications focused on social and environmental solutions. Google Play lists hundreds of sustainability-related apps and tools.

One of the popular apps, in this case, is Paperkarma. The app stops unwanted paper mail from being delivered to your home or work. This app not only eliminates the environmental stress triggered by unsolicited paper mail, but it also helps businesses by reducing the printing and delivering costs of distributing their material to the masses.

There are different types of platforms that emphasize on sustainability which include ethical shopping guides, carbon footprint calculators, educational games, etc. Technology-driven businesses will be judged on whether they can grow farms of apps that provide solutions to the world’s most serious challenges.

3. Implement Footprinting Technology

Companies have evolved over the past two decades from being considerably opaque to gradually incorporate more transparent approaches. This has been the outcome of regulation like the Toxic Release Inventory in the US. The regulations compiled by the US Environmental Protection Agency require thousands of American organizations to report their use of over 650 toxic chemicals.

But with the implementation of web 2.0, organizations are expected to measure and disclose their impact across the whole lifecycle of their products. This system of quantifying business’s economic, environmental and social expenses to society is sometimes recognized as full-cost accounting. Some experts also often call it “net value footprinting”. The pertinent example of this approach happens to be Puma’s environmental profit and loss statement.

Implement Footprinting Technology

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4. Big Data Will Transform Sustainability Measurement

Big data-centric dynamic, accessible and real-time CSR reporting is becoming the new norm. Sustainability performance data can be accumulated and evaluated with the implementation of big data and artificial intelligence. It allows organizations and consumers alike to understand and check the correlations between what would otherwise be complex and unintelligible statistics.

Data technology can foster the process of monetisation on impacts and externalities. The growth of big data analytics provides ‘big picture’ sustainability reporting, encouraging useful tools to analyse and measure traditionally intangible ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) indicators in a more integrated and coherent manner.

5. AI Can Help Drive Sustainable Business

The most elusive trend determining the future of corporate sustainability is the role of artificial intelligence (AI). This is because AI is quite unprecedented and has varied potential to transform the different business sectors and industries.

eRevalue, has put in place an AI tool that would offer quick, and powerful business intelligence on a huge set of unstructured data sets from the global corporate reporting landscape.

While systems like these are yet to become mainstream, technology is definitely going to have a tangible effect on how businesses record, report and ultimately integrate sustainability within their operations.

6. Upholding Sustainability Through Rating Systems

A rather common feature of web 2.0 design is that it enables consumers to express an opinion on the content, from the ubiquitous “like” button on Facebook or Instagram to the fresh-red versus rotten-green tomato movie rating system on rottentomatoes.com.

Now in case of businesses, wiki-based platforms let the public rate and review in detail on the governance, economic, social and environmental performance of companies. One such platform is Wikirate, which enables real-time updating of feedback.

Any ethical violation – or a positive sustainability innovation – will be highlighted almost immediately in the organization’s rating. Other remarkable examples in the rating space are GoodGuide, Clean Label Project and Green Rating.

7. Invest in Green Server Systems

Technology powers every aspect of a business, from hosting digital consumer experiences to powering internal apps. Organizations can make investments in their server rooms — or opt for external hosting choices — that make a considerable difference. When opting for a cloud provider or data centre, check its environmental policies as one criterion of your decision-making process.

Look for ways to optimize your server room. Organizations can make small adjustments that don’t affect hardware but save energy substantially. Determine the energy standards for future hardware purchases. Integrating technologies like virtualization, which allows you to put together several virtual servers into one physical device, can minimize the power consumption to run your servers without compromising on their performance. Some of the most sustainable web hosting platforms are GreenGeeks, DreamHost, InMotion Hosting, etc.

Make sure the cabinets of the server rooms have ample space for airflow to cut down the cooling needs. Strategically analyse your server space and find alternative ways to amp up energy efficiency without affecting the performance.

Invest in Green Server Systems

Source: Pixabay

8. Technology to Automate Energy Consumption

It’s hard to enforce responsible energy consumption policies, particularly across multiple locations. It isn’t uncommon for people to rush out of a conference room and forget to turn the lights off. It’s a challenge to constantly achieve this focus which demands conscious efforts from people involved in an organization.

In such cases, technologies make it simpler to automate more moderate energy consumption. As an example, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can monitor when a room is in use and automatically turn off the lights after people have left.

Similar systems can be implemented, which can sense when employees are at their desks and adjust the temperature of the AC accordingly. Opt for a solution that’s a good fit for your office size and configuration.

9. Integrate Open Sourcing

One of the most remarkable changes in society over the past decade has been the explosion of social media. This frenzy goes well beyond sharing our holiday photos on Facebook or micro-blogging the daily activities of our lives on Twitter. This has prompted a shift in thinking and practice towards open sourcing, which at its heart delves into the idea of co-creation.

This system has enabled good business practices. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk had decided to open up all its patents for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

10. Non-Traditional Processes of Communication Promote Sustainability

The information age allows the companies and individuals alike to prepare and disseminate their own data analyses and findings. Such data is derived from diverse media platforms such as videos, virtual reality (VR), and interactive infographics, combined with more traditional reporting methods such as annual CSR reports. Virtual reality, for example, is one innovative way to provide communities and different stakeholders with new ways to engage with and build awareness of sustainability issues.

These innovative data distribution channels can reach a huge number of people, in turn, making sustainability findings more engaging and relatable as compared to conventional data presentation approaches. Organizations can leverage these channels to disseminate sustainability information in ways that are more intriguing and enjoyable for consumers. This, in turn, could also help businesses gain a new and different set of audiences.
Brewing giant Heineken had introduced an interactive sustainability report, known as ‘Brewing a Better World’. In this report, the key information was presented via GIFs. Similarly, Italian construction company Salini Impregilo has added a number of interactive CSR KPIs on its site.

Parting thoughts,

Adopting greener operations can have a profound impact on your business and also on the environment. Whether it means improving your policies or making conscious technology decisions, it’s definitely worth the investment. Controlling your environmental impact proves to be for your brand, for your employees and good for the long-term health of our planet.

Patrick AustinTechnology
Being a responsible corporate citizen and finding ways to give back to the communities where you operate, sustainability is an essential corporate goal. For most businesses, there are innumerable ways to minimize your environmental footprint. Now, this process begins by looking at how technology and better policies can help your...