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BT Aims To Boost Customers’ CO2 Savings With Net Good

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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BT expands the concept of the carbon footprint

BT has announced the Net Good initiative, which looks at the carbon footprint of its suppliers and customers, and has set itself the goal of cutting its customers’ CO2 emissions by three times its own greenhouse gas output.

The telecoms giant has cut its own emissions by 80 percent, but wants to clock up an overall net benefit to the planet, by counting in the savings its customers make through the use of telecoms to replace travel, through videoconferencing, or using broadband to work at home.

That sounds a hard figure to quantify, but BT has a methodology which has been approved by energy accounting authorities including the Carbon Trust, and believes that by 2020, it can show it has helped its customers save three tonnes of CO2 emissions for every tonne that BT’s own operations account for.

btsmartwaterThe Net Good programme

“We need to develop new models of growth that have, at the very least, a neutral impact on overall resources. Ideally, we strive for models of growth that have a net positive impact on the planet,” said Kevin Moss, director of the Net Good programme. “We have to shift our ambitions from doing ‘less bad’ to doing net good.”

BT has been counting its own carbon emissions for more than 20 years, and the Net Good initiative extends that to its supply chain, both upstream (counting what emisisons are produced by its suppliers) and downstream (looking at its customers; environmental impact).

BT itself now sources all its electricity from renewable sources, thanks to a deal with Npower, which has allowed it to reach a target of cutting its own emissions by 80 percent several years early.

Counting in the savings of its customers allows BT to turn that still-positive carbon footprint into a negative, but the programme is balancing BT’s real end-to-end carbon impact with the “potential” of its technologies to reduce its customers’ carbon footprints. That’s a matter of statistics, and might seem hard to pin down, but BT has a methodology to determine how much of its customers’ savings it can take credit for. It has then had that methodology examined and approved by the Carbon Trust and MIT researchers Camanoe Associates.

Publishing the methodology, BT has described the move as an “open source” approach to CO2 abatement, and clearly hopes other firms will adopt the same strategy. Of course, at that point, since many of them have customers in common, there may be a tussle between the suppliers over which of them should take credit for a given customer’s CO2 reductions.

“Proud as we are of our own record, doing less environmental damage is no longer enough,” said BT chief executive Ian Livingston at the Net Benefit launch. “We are moving beyond simply making our own business more resource-efficient to using products and services to help our customers do the same. Communication technology has a significant role in helping create a better future by enabling businesses and individuals to use resources efficiently.”

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