CyberThinc has sought to minimise the company’s environmental impact since long before it became fashionable. We did not seek to do this for low carbon reasons, but because understanding the physics and mathematics, we knew that energy efficiency is good for keeping operating costs low, and reducing the impact of pollution – an overlooked issue which we consider more significant than any other issues related to the environment. This is not unique in itself, since many companies nowadays try and operate in a more environmentally friendly manner, certainly with regards to recycling, and using recycled paper for instance.
Where CyberThinc Limited have tried to advance on the usual environmentally friendly measures, is in energy efficiency. This is beneficial to us and our customers even though our contribution to polluting the planet is admittedly infinitesimally small. We feel that clients like to know that they are dealing with a company that is at least seriously trying to take steps to reduce pollution.
Office Equipment Energy Management.
Initially, CyberThinc undertook a comprehensive energy audit, which we now track regularly, to analyse exactly what the company’s energy consumption was, and what power various devices were consuming. With that in place, we could then look at steps to reduce power consumption and improve energy efficiency much further. Consequently, the following steps were undertaken to reduce the company energy consumption.
- 1) Use of the lowest power draw computers available (CyberThinc has used low power draw computers since the early 2000s). Most businesses do not actually need high end PCs for the majority of work. Low power laptops, Small Form Factor PCs and Nettop PCs will suffice. The only concession to high power computing made at CyberThinc is the use of high end PCs for mathematical modelling for technical simulations – an area where more powerful number crunching PCs are required. Even then, they are only used when the simulations are required, to minimise power consumption.
- 2) Use of LCD Monitors from back when they were fiendishly expensive (CyberThinc took the step over a decade ago to move to LCD screen technology. This was very expensive at the time, but a step we believe was well worth it). We also moved to LED lit LCD Monitors rapidly too, because of the improvements in energy efficiency they provide.
- 3) Use of LED office lighting. Initially, we started this process when LED mains lighting didn’t exist, and being a technical company we put our money where our mouths are, and actually built our own strings of LEDs to provide low cost lighting. Now the technology has moved on considerably, and we use mains LED bulbs – a technology which is racing ahead in terms of better illumination and improved energy efficiency.
- 4) Switching off of peripheral devices when not in direct use. Why leave laser printers, scanners etc powered on, if they are not used?
These are less energy efficiency measures, and more cost reduction / reduction in resource usage measures, providing a way to reduce overheads for consumables such as stationery.
- a. Avoiding use of printing where possible, and maximum use of digital documentation.
- b. Digitisation of paper based documentation where it pre-exists in hard copy.
- c. Maximisation of email usage for digital document distribution.
- d. Maximisation of cloud based services for digital document distribution.
Office Thermal Energy Management.
This is probably the most overlooked method to reduce energy consumption, and thus reduce operating costs and adding to pollution. However, it is the method which can produce the biggest gains. Heating and cooling bills are not insubstantial, so employing all means of energy efficiency that are feasible, is a step well worth taking, most notably:
- i. Use of energy efficient measures for temperature control for office use.
- ii. Use of finely grained, accurate office environment monitoring. One of the advantages of being proponents of the Internet of Things, is we are able to deploy these technologies for maximum benefit for energy efficiency.
Travel and Energy Efficiency.
At CyberThinc, we maximise use of videoconferencing for meetings where possible. This is another area where CyberThinc adopted the technology early on, back when it was far less effective than today’s HD webcams and netcams. A lot of so called environmentally friendly companies and experts still manage to jet set and travel around far more than needs be the case with modern videoconferencing technology. As well as demonstrating they don’t actually scientifically understand the impact of their activities, the financial benefits in using videoconferencing technology are considerable.
With modern full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) webcams and directly networked IP netcams, along with high quality external microphones and some basic lighting of the people involved in the videoconferencing, it is straightforward to maintain high quality video links with clients, suppliers and remote working employees. This not only results in energy efficiency gains, but also reduced costs.
Where organisations and companies move to cloud based services enhancing the ability of individuals and teams to work remotely, the need for quite so much travel can decrease, and this is an issue CyberThinc have been exploring at length. Additionally, there are also very good online project management , customer relationship management and software control tools to enable many tasks that would previously be carried out in a central office to be carried out remotely, thus reducing transport costs further, and in turn, ensuring more energy efficiency in operations.
Long Term Plans.
Longer term, CyberThinc is seeking to become as energy neutral a company as possible. This is not easy given we are a UK based company, and where wind turbines are not quite all they are cracked up to be, where total solar irradiance at UK latitudes requires substantial amounts of photovoltaic panels, and where not everyone has access to sufficient water flow in a stream or river for microhydro generation.
Consequently, we aim to make as much of the energy reduction through efficiency measures and heat reclamation, to reduce the load on renewable energy generation sources. This also works because although we have several photovoltaic panels, our strategic foresight work and technology trend analysis indicates improvements in solar panels will feed through to the market within a reasonable timeframe, that it will be worth adopting the improved panels for energy generation.