Having just finished all the analysis and laid out all practices for systematic improvement within a large IT-hosting company, it is interesting to reflect upon some experiences. First of all, many ask what significant environmental aspects an IT hosting company has, if any?

I seems people tends to «forget» about a lot of things, when asking such a question. Granted, it is not dealing with hazardous chemicals on an industrial scale, nor is it coal fired (or is it?). It does not have a history for toppling over oil tankers in brittle ocean habitats, nor does it set off wild fires.

Truth is, not many others have either. It is the product of the smaller day-to-day environmental impacts that, when multiplied with frequency, makes even regular offices, stores, support companies, public services and all regular companies the largest environmental strain in total. These are the companies most of us work in, and these are the companies we can impact when we are self-conscious about it.

This IT-hosting company has – as have any company – its distinctive environmental aspects. It has a round the mill power consumption – among it contracted server parks that are part of «the IT cloud» – , a couple of hundred employees who travels during business and to and from work, prints stuff on paper, eats and produces waste. Talking about waste, it has quite a bit of electronic equipment running all over, equipment that has some life cycle and that becomes a special kind of waste in the end; ripe with plastics, heavy and rare metals and more. So it can focus on those; all those little risks with negative impacts – and is that not what we all tend to do!?

Risks and negativity seems to define the way we approach environmental impacts, since environmental focus as of today is driven by fear of environmental breakdown. However, it is prudent to remind ourselves that ISO 14001 (and for that matter the ISO/IEC 31010:2009 on risk analysis techniques) clearly allows – indeed requires of us – the «mathematical» risk value that can have either a positive or a negative prefix (coming from the positive or negative consequences, which are one of the two factors). And; when ISO 14001 also asks of us to consider the whole life cycle, take a 360 degree view of stakeholders, move up- and down stream in the value creation process and prioritize along our main business processes; then it appears something remarkable in this story:

Our business-in-case’s core business is to deliver digitized solutions for customer processes; processes when automated and implemented saves the resource consumption (i.e. all kinds of costs), and correspondingly the environment, a lot. Really; a lot!

Increased focus on the opportunities, and indeed increased motivation coming from leaders, managers and employees as they discover this, is well worth the effort. In fact, it far outweighs the net results we may expect from focusing on the negatives, although we will not forget them!

Celebrating the certificate, this is how the company chose to put it:

[Company] Internal

[Company] now Certified towards the requirements of ISO 14001 on Environmental Management

Publish to:

[Company] continues the work to deliver quality assured services to [other companies in the the Group] and external customers and to be the most preferred partner in our market. A Green Footprint have long been at the core of [Group]’s philosophy. The most notable – and positive – environmental contribution [company] make is with software that enables customers by process automation, digitization and cloud services.

[Company] also controls its potential negatives, such as managing the substantial amount of electronic equipment (via life cycle and waste management, use of environmentally conscious data centers, monitoring power consumption) and a mature culture for using video conferences and remote work (reducing transport related emissions), and commits to prove further improvement on its most significant environmental aspects.

The Certificate is awarded from [accredited auditors]. It adds to [company]’s already existing ISO portfolio of 9001, 20000-1, 21500, 27001 and 27018, ranging from general governance to IT security, personal identifiable data and project and service management, and now to an overall environmental focus.

[Company] is now well positioned to assist [Group] companies with “quality as a service” and integrated systems management. 


The Quality Team

This is not a far-fetched example. Other companies of all types, should take care to remember what positive impact they have – or can have – in the value chain, and how they together with suppliers and customers alike, can create REAL improvements to their environmental impact.