On Monday, Newsweek released their inaugural Green Rankings, and interestingly, HP finished at the top. In an article, titled "The Greenest Big Companies in America" they explain they decided to publicize this list to recognize the efforts of companies, and how they ranked companies in industries as diverse as high-tech and mining.
Some are critical about the way this was done, Rose Gordon in PRWeek for example, points out that "ranks are fraught with subjectivity, or incomplete and self-reported data", but recognizes this is "a best first effort".
HP's position is due to its long term commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of all its operations, and not based on carbon offset or any other substitution program. The environmental subject is an emotional one, but reading through some of the blog comments, I realize many HP programs are not known and not visible to most. Indeed, our objective has not been to market green, but rather to become greener. HP is mainly working in three spaces:
- Reducing the environmental impact of a product throughout its whole lifecycle, from design to recycling
- Reducing the environmental impact of HP's own operations and facilities
- Helping HP employees reduce their own environmental impact
Each of those subjects is worth a whole dissertation, and it is not my plan in this entry to review all measures taken and describe every internal policy, this would take us way too far. However, I would like to highlight some very practical examples that may help you understand what we are trying to do.
Let me first highlight a program, called Design for Environment, we embarked on several years ago. The objective of this program is to include the environmental aspects right from the early design stages of the product. It addresses the impact of the product during manufacturing, during usage and at recycling, so, all the way through the lifecycle of the product. Aspects such as packaging, materials, energy consumption, supply chain impacts, ease of reuse/recycling are all taken into account. Obviously tradeoffs have to be made to ensure quality and ease of use of the product, as our customers do not expect HP to lower their standards.
Let me give you some examples. About one year ago, HP designed a notebook for Walmart, shipped in a stylish bag made out of 100% recycled material, reducing packaging with 97%, and winning Walmart's Design Challenge along the way. Another example is the increased use of recycled material in the production of Inkjet Cartridges. These are just two examples in a series. I will come back to the DfE program in a future entry.
And let me take a minute to urge you to recycle your cartridges and HP products. You can find information on the program in your country here.
To reduce its environmental impact, HP is addressing multiple aspects at the same time. And here is where, a partial view does not allow a real understanding of what is happening. For example, when HP announced the doubling of Green Energy Use in late 2008, we received negative comments from some of our competitors, and that's fine. In the mean time, we are well on the way to reduce our total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from our facilities to 16 percent below 2005 levels, by the end of 2010. Our current performance can be found here. We are consolidating buildings; increase the use of renewable energy, decrease emissions per unit of floor space etc. But we are also ensuring our company car fleet uses more efficient cars (reduction of 8% of GHG emissions from 205 level, and 24% from 2006 level in Europe alone) , we are reducing travel and have implemented Halo telepresence studio's in all major facilities. We have also consolidated our IT datacenters resulting in drastic reductions in energy consumption, and are working at consolidating our printing environments.
In many countries programs exist to help employees reduce their environmental impact. In my own country for example, a program for acquiring rooftop solar panels has been implemented. Environmental tricks and tips are available on the intranet to give another example. And HP goes even further, trying to incent its customers to reduce their carbon footprint. The "Power to Change" program, launched last June, is one of the examples. To address the widest possible audience, the program is on facebook and twitter.
Becoming "greener", and I use this term rather than the term "green", as I strongly believe companies can always reduce their environmental impact, is not a big bang announcement, but an orchestration of many small steps that each add to a common goal. Caring for the environment has been in HP's DNA for a long time. Our first recycling program was started in 1966, to recycle punched cards. Most of you probably do not even remember how they look.
We are committed to continue our efforts to reduce our environmental impact. If you are interested in reviewing how we progress, check our environment pages.
In one of my previous posts, I referred to the WWF report "The potential global CO2 reductions from ICT use". Last week I had the opportunity to talk to one of my colleagues who collaborated with the WWF in this report, and we started a very interesting discussion on the use of IT to reduce companies' effect on the environment.
IT consumes 2% of the world energy, and although it is important to reduce that one, there are the other 98% and according to the report, 37% comes directly or indirectly from the industry. Our topic of discussion turned around how we could use IT to help reduce this amount. There are three clear areas that we came up with, first, the manufacturing process itself, second transportation and third the use and recycling of the product.
I remembered a conversation a couple years ago where somebody told me a CPU chip would go two or three times around the world prior to being delivered as part of a computer at your doorstep. Frankly, is that really needed? Could we use simulation software to optimize the manufacturing process, ensuring that, while maintaining the lowest possible cost, we can reduce the CO2 emissions.
Many of our factories are automated today, and they use MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) to understand and optimize their operations. But those systems do not take environmental concerns into account as they exist today. This is another area we should work on.
As part of research for a greener IT, HPLabs has focused on effective cooling methods for computers and racks. In doing so, they managed to reduce the energy usage by up to 40%. Now, many manufacturing processes require to be cooled. Could some of the approaches developed by HPLabs being used for those processes? Although there is no clear answer today, it's worth asking the question and looking at potential opportunities for piloting. Now, you may argue this has little to do with IT directly, and you are right. However, if it helps, that's the most important isn't it.
At HP we are using a design for the environment (DFE) approach in product development, identifying the actual implications of the product under development to the environment. Simulations during the process allow us to anticipate future consumption and other key data items. Here again, IT can help understand what is required to develop a loc carbon product.
I realize I have only scratched the surface here, but am looking at your inputs and ideas. This subject will be core and center in conversations between manufacturers in the near future, so let's prepare ourselves.