“The conversation is changing, sustainability is no longer an afterthought.”
For their June issue, Inside Networks magazine asked us to join their Question Time debate regarding evidencing sustainability in the delivery of network infrastructure solutions. We were only too happy to join the conversation! As sustainability is one of our founding principles, we still had plenty to say when we reached our word count – so have expanded on our comment below.
How important is it for providers of network infrastructure solutions to have clear, demonstrable and proven sustainability-based credentials? Can working with companies that operate sustainably help installers and integrators win business? What type of evidence should be requested to ensure that a vendor’s claims of environmental excellence stack up?
Kathryn Aves, Managing Director at Bluepoint Technologies
Achieving sustainability in network infrastructure is becoming increasingly more achievable, making it even more crucial for providers with the proven capability to deliver green solutions to evidence their sustainability credentials and clearly differentiate themselves from those who have not obtained the same status. This should be in the form of detailed information that can be purveyed back to the customer.
Understanding the lifecycle is vital to demonstrating the true environmental impact of a project. The widespread increase in focus on net-zero, accompanied by the growing body of carbon embodiment data, is a great example of the type of detailed information we as an industry can provide to our customers. Using carbon embodiment data, manufacturers and installers such as ourselves are able to provide customers with a bill of materials including detailing the associated carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions throughout the whole lifecycle of each product. An overtly sustainable customer touchpoint, such as a paper wrap, may seem like the obvious choice for a green project. However, its final packaging is only the first point of reference in understanding the environmental impact of a product. Is it produced using responsibly sourced plastic? How is it transported and from where? Is the machine used to produce it run sustainably or built using sustainable parts? Once the whole lifecycle of a product is taken into consideration, even a patch cable, which is going to include an element of plastic for the foreseeable future at least, can be a carbon neutral product.
Vendors should be able to calculate and share detailed data evidencing the true environmental and infrastructural impact of the project. The data they have been provided gives the customer the choice and the opportunity to invest in diverse sustainable projects to offset their own carbon footprint.
Whether committing to sustainability throughout the delivery of a project can help win business is tough to quantify, as it ultimately depends on each customer’s motivations for a project. Instead, our focus should be on educating customers about how their project could be made more sustainable and how realistic sustainability measures can make a positive impact on their carbon footprint. For us, the end game of this process is to educate customers on the importance of demanding a green install from the outset, allowing installers and integrators to work with customers on a project that delivers on their environmental regulations or commitments.
Sustainability is moving further up the agenda. Having a close working relationship with many manufacturers, we know of those within the industry that are having conversations where the first question posed to the customer is “Is sustainability a priority?” Even the most environmentally aware decision-maker is likely to think twice if presented with “This is the cost of your install AND this is how much extra it will be to do it sustainably.” However, re-framing this to “This is the cost for a sustainable install” removes sustainability as an afterthought. We are aware that we are a small piece in a much larger puzzle, but we are determined to contribute to the solution. Establishing a customer’s appetite for sustainability in the first instance enables manufacturers, suppliers, integrators, and installers to change the conversation around sustainability and, ultimately, get more sustainably focused projects underway throughout the industry!
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