Way back in 2005, when the company was young we had a hope that we could play a part in reducing our impact on the environment.
Servers of this time drew in disproportionately large amounts of power through perhaps 2 x 950watt Power Supplies, and even PC’s ran a single 650w unit. Back then everything needed to run on its own physical hardware, so a typical organization even in the SME space might run 3 or 4 physical servers. The heat output was something to consider, and when you added in air conditioning as well, the carbon footprint of a typical office was surprising.
Around this time we were running 2.0L diesel Volvos as fleet cars in reaction to one of our team having his car driven over by an Armoured Fighting Vehicle. Most of our work required us to be on site at customer premises.
Our customers were also typically destroying redundant IT equipment and much of it went to landfill.
We recognized the impact that this was having and started to formulate our environmental plan. Firstly by replacing old equipment with newer hardware that consumed less power and secondly by taking it upon ourselves to take the packaging away and ensuring that it went into recycling rather than landfill.
Soon after we started to remove redundant hardware too, ensuring this went to legitimate charities or was broken down into recycling.
In 2008 Microsoft bought in the possibility of virtualization and this meant that we could load multiple machines on one piece of host hardware. This dramatically improved electricity consumption and has improved in subsequent years.
In 2008 we were first endorsed by the Ethical Accreditation Company for our environmental stance and we have been every year since.
Around 2010 we moved many of our largest customers on to Thin Client machines with very low power consumption, which meant that the technology sitting behind this changed the game in terms of being reliant upon any one location for work.
Around 2011 we replaced the 2 litre diesels with 1.6L British built Vauxhall Astras. At least one of our team owes his life to the build quality of that car. The reduction in hardware size helped us to reduce the physical size of our vehicles.
During 2014 our fleet of Astras was retired with staff uncomfortable at their fuel consumption and we elected to replace them all with more fuel efficient 1.4L Nissan Notes; selecting a vehicle built in Britain which was NCAP 5 star rated which was especially lucky for one of our drivers again! Virtualization had impacted the amount of goods carried to sites on projects.
Reliance on site visits was waning and our early adoption of Remote Management technologies halved our travel to customer premises. Subsequently, this has reduced further, with 66% of scheduled maintenance being done remotely.
Our internal Data Security review meant our policy changed so that we now had to securely wipe hard drives to an international standard before they could be donated. In the 12 months to January 2020 (just before Covid hit) we oversaw the secure recycling of approaching 5000Kgs of redundant IT hardware.
In 2017 our fleet was really redundant and we opted instead to offer staff a car allowance with many of them opting for smaller environmentally friendly cars. Around 80% of our total work is now conducted remotely.
In 2020 our staff – like everyone else – went to work from home and to date 80% of our team have remained home working because technology allows it. This means they enjoy the cost saving of not having to commute to our offices. In March and April 2020 we moved literally thousands of our customers staff to a sustainable working from home capability. Many are now home based or hybrid working permanently.
A typical server now runs 500W Power supplies and PC’s 200W.
We are currently trying to assess the environmental impact of sharing cloud servers in hosting environments. However we anticipate that since the company started we have reduced our carbon footprint by around 80% and probably helped halve that of hundreds of businesses that we have touched in regard to their IT Infrastructure consumption.
We are however not sitting on our laurels. IT Ambulance are continuing our mission to reduce our global impact and look for opportunities to quietly lead our customers on the same journey.