How IT will help manage carbon, waste and water, while driving down energy consumption.
A key issue in delivering savings through energy, carbon and waste management is the overhead (both financial and green) associated with the introduction and enforcement of sustainability policies. Using technology, it is now possible to measure sustainability and energy consumption associated with business practice. however, while IT is the natural tool of choice for measuring and managing sustainability, traditional systems have a large footprint. With the advent of cloud computing (where software runs remotely on a server via the internet, rather than on local machines) we are now seeing systems which can provide significant return on investment by improving sustainability with minimal energy usage, thus generating substantial financial savings for businesses.
Cleantech research group Pike Research forecasted that cloud computing will lead to a reduction in energy consumption by 31% from 201.8 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2010 to 139.8 TWh in 2020. This they say, will amount to 38% less energy expenditure in 2020, compared to a scenario where currently standard computing models are used (predicted consumption in 2020 without cloud is 226.4 TWh). The reduction will cut energy expenditures down from $23.3 billion in 2010 to $16.0 billion in 2020, as well as causing a 28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The efficiency comes from the sharing of resources and the allocation of processing power to one central, integrated hub. This proves to be significantly less wasteful than running applications on separate machines and using local networks. in addition, with software running remotely, not only are the costs greatly reduced, they are covered by the provider, so customers do not have to manage energy costs associated with the computing, they just pay for the subscription.
In fact a leading provider of such solutions, CloudApps, has recently announced a new product providing a wealth of functionality to keep employees engaged in and talking about sustainability management, via the cloud. Using the CloudApps desktop application SuMo, personnel are required to disclose information such as travel expenses and energy consumption, from which the software is able to score each employee against their personal targets. The software measures performance against budget for each department and can provide reporting, which would usually be work intensive and costly, to give an accurate indication of progress towards sustainability targets.
Simon Wheeldon, CEO of CloudApps said: “The release of SuMo will make sustainability an aspect of normal working life, in a way never before possible. Anybody using a computer is reminded unsustainable work practices are a luxury businesses cannot afford. Our customers are looking to bring down travel and energy costs by at least 10%, which may sound modest, but requires company-wide change.
When every employee can make a small contribution to the wider energy saving and waste limitation initiatives, businesses will start to see running costs cut dramatically.” What used to be of primarily environmental concern is now of considerable financial significance for many businesses.
Organisations who do not take sustainability seriously, or state sustainability targets without taking measures to ensure they are enforced at every level of the business, will very soon fail to keep up with more sustainable competitors operating at much lower cost. With more and more organisations understanding the importance of sustainability, given the dramatic energy savings and additional advantages cloud computing can bring it is almost inevitable that it is the future of IT for successful organisations.
RICS Prompts Property Professionals To Consider Cloud Computing
The way in which property professionals advise their clients could soon change as cloud computing increasingly becomes the IT method of choice for industry, according to a RICS report. Cloud Computing involves adopting a virtual server which allows businesses to save information remotely and dispense with large, unreliable servers. Property professionals should be aware of this growing trend and consider its impact on space requirements, IT costings and increased remote working when advising clients.
With demand for online servers set to increase exponentially over the coming years, Cloud Computing could help redefine the cost profile of IT in real estate companies, generate demand for technical property like data centres and reinforce flexible working practices.
Andrew Waller, RICS spokesperson, said: “As more and more businesses look to reduce their expenditure, cost-efficient operating solutions will become an increasing priority. The impending impact of businesses adopting the Cloud will be far reaching for the property profession. Organisations that choose to adopt these virtual IT systems will be able to reduce their running costs and smaller businesses will be able to access systems which would, otherwise, have been beyond their financial means. Furthermore, by using virtual IT systems businesses will require less floor space, as large servers are dispensed with and the smooth, reliable remote access allows a greater number of employees to work away from the office on a more regular basis.”
How BIM Can Benefit your Business?
Working on a central 3D digital model may mean a shift in attitudes but the impact it can have on saving time and money has the potential to revolutionise your business.
The construction industry has had more than its fair share of woes in the past five years; when the recession hit, it was first in, and as the economy slowly recovers, many say it could be last out. housing, hotels and commercial buildings projects came to a complete standstill back in 2008 and with nothing in the pipeline, firms began downsizing and making redundancies in an effort to ride the storm.
So how is it that some businesses have continued to thrive whilst so many others have struggled? Perhaps because they have used the downturn as an opportunity to re-examine the way they operate and look to create efficiencies through technology, offer better value to their clients and enjoy more profit from their services “Technology has always been at the heart of this practice and we’ve always believed in getting the latest equipment if we can demonstrate that it saves us time and we can produce work more efficiently,” says Stride Treglown production and operations director Robert Sargent.
“We were all using CAD way before other practices started and we were early adopters of BIM technology – we’ve been using it for more than seven years now.” Sargent is referring to the 3D building information modelling (BIM) software, Revit Architecture, which has helped ensure his firm stays at the forefront of technology and delivers the efficiencies that have helped build it into one of the UK’s top architectural practices.
“The main challenges facing the industry today are the pressures on architects to lower fees and to deliver buildings to clients very quickly. But there’s a lot more complication, a lot more regulation out there today so we not only have to help our clients understand exactly what they want in the first place, but also ensure that the whole construction pipeline is in the loop and collaborating from the very start.”
Sargent also believes that as contractors become involved much earlier on in the design process, so the need for collaboration increases. “Contractors are now a lot more central to how we deliver buildings, particularly for government, and when you hear the likes of Paul Morrell, chief construction adviser to the government, speak about how they are going to be the point of delivery for best value buildings in the UK, we really need to respond to that. The earlier you get the involvement of the contractor in the design process, the smoother the transition between disciplines will become – and that means a whole new collaborative way of thinking.”
BIM is an innovative way of seamlessly bridging communications between disciplines within the construction industry. Using a BIM model, architects and engineers can efficiently generate, exchange and update information, create digital representations of all stages of the building process and even simulate real-world performance of those structures – streamlining workflow, improving quality and increasing productivity. it can also be invaluable in reducing errors.
Construction-related disputes have been shown to be a major cause of unplanned expense – as well as litigation – and among the most common causes are errors generated during the exchange of information between architects and engineers. But BIM can practically eliminate errors and excessive change orders by identifying, locating and visualising potential errors before they can ever occur.
“The advantage of using BIM on a project, particularly early on, is that everyone very quickly gets an idea of what the building will look like and how it’s going to work – and it throws up some very precise information that you can share between all the design team members. it helps the contractors understand the three dimensions of the design yet still gives them a very drilled-down preciseness they need – how many doors are there in the building, for example, becomes quite important at tender stage. You can give them very accurate information. if there’s a message i could take to the industry, it is that we almost need to rip up the old rule book and start a new one that incorporates BIM, where people work together a lot earlier.”