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Tuesday, 20 March 2012

IT major Atos greening its operations

As one of the world's premier providers of information technology services, Atos is at the fore of driving innovation with several first-of-their-kind solutions for the diverse sectors it serves. And yet, what truly sets this company miles ahead of its competition is its dedicated emphasis on sustainable development, which it has embraced long before 'sustainability' became a fashionable buzzword in corporate-speak.

Leaving no stone unturned

True to the company's belief that every part of an organisation can, and should, contribute to creating a cleaner, 'greener' organisation, Atos's environmental programme is tailored to reduce waste and increase efficiency throughout the lifecycle of its various activities.

The company is targeting reducing its carbon footprint by 15 percent by 2012, from its 2008 baseline, and has already begun evaluating its progress and measuring its success. Further building on this ambitious carbon reduction action plan, Atos is also implementing the ISO14001 Environmental Management System in all its buildings and data centres-it hopes to have close to 80 percent of its structures certified by 2013.

A green, efficient core

Atos holds the commendable distinction of being the first global IT company to offer carbon-neutral hosting services. This it has achieved with the help of a three-step programme that involves measuring and increasing its power usage efficiency, applying the global Carbon Audit programme to its various data centres around the world, and joining hands with The CarbonNeutral Company to offset the carbon generated by its data centres by investing in a windmill turbine project in Thar Desert, India.

The company is also a signatory of the European Code of Conduct on Data centre Energy Efficiency, which aims to help data centre owners and operators to become more energy efficient. Besides, Atos was the first IT company to join the Global Reporting Initiative G3 guidelines-a global standard for reporting on corporate responsibility-in 2009, and has been issuing its corporate responsibility reports in accordance with these guidelines.

Reaching within

As with other IT services providers, Atos operations are very energy intensive. Not surprisingly, when the company decided to 'go green', it first began with assessing its energy consumption, and looking for ways to enhance its energy efficiency. Today, Atos undertakes numerous measures within its offices, all of which are aimed at minimising its energy consumption. These include:

- Use of virtual servers, which also helps to reduce the amount of e-waste the company generates

- Replacing traditional terminals with thin clients, which use only up to 1/8th of the energy used by conventional workstations
- Implementing efficient load balancing mechanisms on servers

- Installing actuators with thermostats in the HVAC systems used in Atos's various offices, so that power can automatically be cut off when the system gets overcooled

- Use of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems to reduce the fuel consumed by DG sets during instances of power failure

The company is also concurrently working on several other approaches to bring down its carbon footprint even further. Some of these are:

Using Energy Star-rated printers to reduce the amount of paper wastes

- Implementing a sustainability awareness e-learning module for employees to sensitise them to how they can contribute to the organisation's overall energy and emissions savings

- Continuous monitoring with the help of an automated dashboard, which measures emissions, energy savings and other key aspects

- Green building measures such as heat reduction mechanisms, water recycling, and intelligent lighting systems

- Minimising travel, and hence the use of fossil fuels and the resultant emissions, through effective use of video-conferencing. The company also encourages the practice of car pooling to cut down the amount of vehicular traffic, to and from its offices.

Business with a 'green' heart

Leveraging its years of first-hand expertise in drawing up and effecting sustainability measures with the organisation, Atos has devised a comprehensive 'green' programme for its clients, which it quite appropriately calls 'Firm of the Future'. This programme comprises many aspects, ranging from drawing up a sustainable business model, to enhancing operational efficiency across the supply chain. To facilitate the same, Atos offers its clients a sustainable IT infrastructure, which is powered the company's signature carbon-neutral hosting facility.

For Atos, going green is not as much about throwing in a few sustainable measures as it is about inculcating a sustainable philosophy into the organisation's ethos. And as it continues to reach for even higher eco-friendly goals, the organisation is ably demonstrating how corporations of the future can be both sustainable and profitable.

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