Minimizing your carbon footprint is a popular topic these days, both from an environmental perspective and a financial one, in the form of energy costs. When you’re running a network, you may be more concerned with performance than the energy the equipment uses. However, there are ways to reduce energy consumption while maintaining high levels of performance.

But before we get into the details, let’s consider why you measure your carbon footprint. This depends on the industry you’re in, if you’re in a highly regulated industry with mandatory carbon accounting, you’ll want to be precise in your measurements and tracking. But, if you’re simply interested in reducing energy consumption and increasing environmentally friendly business practices, you can take a more relaxed approach.

Know Your Impact

When you’re trying to learn more about how much energy you’re using, the first thing to do is to set a baseline. For a basic equivalency calculation, you can use this calculator from the EPA to measure your electricity use (in kilowatt-hours). It will show you how your energy use is equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions in everyday terms, such as miles driven, or smartphones charged.

If you’re interested and have room for it in your budget, you can take an in-depth look into how your electricity is being used by specific equipment. To get started, inventory your IT equipment or, if you’re staying on top of your network auditing, you can refer to an existing inventory. Once you know what kinds of gear you have and how much, you can start to research the energy consumption of each piece. Sites like Energy Star and EPEAT offer detailed information on the energy usage and efficiency of electronic equipment.


Reduce Your Impact

Now that you know your energy consumption and how it equates to greenhouse gas emissions, you probably want to reduce it. Or, maybe being a “greener” company is a business goal. No matter what your reason, reducing your energy consumption is good for your organization and the planet. So, how do you get started?

Replace Your Gear

You can replace energy-sucking equipment with more energy-efficient gear. Fortunately, making green decisions about servers, laptops, printers, and other office equipment has never been easier. The Energy Star website is an excellent resource for finding energy-efficient networking equipment with their seal of approval. Selecting used equipment offsets your consumption because you avoid perpetuating the manufacturing of non-energy efficient equipment. 

Make What You Have More Efficient

If it’s not in the budget to replace what you have, leverage energy-efficient settings on your network devices. Much of the energy used by networking equipment is actually wasted because most networks are provisioned for the maximum expected usage versus the average daily usage. Take a closer look at your network provisioning to see if there are ways you can make it more efficient. Also, consider how you can use the sleep mode to reduce power consumption during idle network times.

Another way to potentially reduce the amount of gear you’re using and therefore energy consumption is to simplify your network.

Offset Your Impact

Carbon offsetting is the purchase of certificates from an organization that fund projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These projects might be forest restoration or investment in renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. You can purchase carbon offset certificates to reduce or even counteract your carbon footprint. However, there are some questions about how effective carbon offsetting is, so it’s best to do your homework and research an organization before you buy.

There are other ways you can offset your greenhouse gas emissions as well. Look into using energy from renewable sources, install solar panels on the roof of your office building, or even collect organic waste to be composted. Or, you can get the whole team involved in company outings to plant trees, create community gardens or other environmentally conscious activities.

We’re in This Together

When it comes to reducing our environmental impact, creating a carbon-neutral network may seem like a small step to take. However, even small steps add up. And when we are all making these steps together, we can really make an impact on carbon emissions. 
Learn about how we here at Summit are committed to going green through our sustainable business practices. 

Thinking Beyond Your Network