Today, more than 2,200 companies covering over a third of the global economy’s market are reporting their sustainability performance, but do they have the tools to accurately measure their total carbon footprint?
Increasingly, society will expect full accountability – and that will include hard-to-measure scope 3 emissions, the indirect emissions from an organisation’s value chain.
It’s critical that organisations can rely on their sustainability monitoring data so that their progress tracking is accurate, and they don’t run the risk of making false claims that could negatively impact on their brand reputation.
Surprisingly, however, feedback within the sustainability landscape is that around 40% of emissions claims are currently incorrect.
Tackling the scope 3 issue
We’re well aware that, for our customers, our private cloud contact centre services fall into scope 3 and have been working on the issue of providing transparent sustainability data for some time. Although the net operational emissions from our data centres is zero, since we are powered by 100% renewable electricity, customers need gross emissions data for their reporting.
Our ambition is to develop a solution in the contact centre sustainability space by delivering a tool that captures the data and measurements necessary for visibility.
We’re working on providing a monitoring and reporting mechanism for our cloud-based contact centre services hosted in BT private data centres that can easily be verified by any independent party, making it easy for our customers to validate their sustainability progress.
Key partnerships accelerated our progress
Knowing that credibility would be important to our customers, we sought out an academic partner to help us build a methodology that offered organisations an objective, standardised and auditable measurement of total carbon emissions across their private data centre estate.
The Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands had published innovative work recognising that consumers of cloud-based IT services have no way of accessing their suppliers’ data centre operations or of understanding what their total energy consumption was. Its experience in this area made it an ideal partner.
Our other partner, QiO, brought expertise in optimising industrial asset performance to achieve net zero emissions. QiO joined the project to build out the pilot work of the University of Groningen into a more widely applicable model.
Our joint project fell into three phases:
1. Creating a prototype
Initially, we developed a first draft of a monitoring and visualisation system capable of measuring the carbon footprint of private hosted services in our data centres. Using a data centre in the Netherlands as our prototype, we identified all the factors and variables that could affect energy consumption there.
But there were limitations, mainly focused around missing data points, such as the power consumption of data centre lighting, cooling and airflow for data centres we don’t own. Plus, our methodology relied on manual data gathering which meant we could only provide a monthly report, as opposed to one in real-time.
2. Consolidating and automating the model
In our second phase of development we explored how to accurately estimate that missing data, as well as how to automate the process across other data centres.
The University of Groningen created an imputation methodology that provided an accurate representation of missing data so our model could give a complete picture of energy use.
QiO joined the project to help us expand our model by connecting all our servers and data centres together, making sure it could work for data centres around the globe. It also automated the data collection process, opening the door to being able to offer a real-time view of energy consumption.
3. Creating an effective sustainability tool
Our final phase involved standardising our model so that it could be used more widely and effectively.
Our ultimate goal is to enable our customers to bring together all their emissions data into a single reporting measurement. To help with this, we aligned our methodology with the GHG Corporate Protocol Standard to make consolidating data easy, and a foundation of rigorous academic research.
We continue to work on expanding our capabilities so we’ll be able to measure public cloud offerings as well. This is important in a multi-cloud world, particularly since research shows that moving core infrastructure into the public cloud can create energy efficiency savings of up to 93% - making cloud contact centres, for example, potentially a more sustainable option than on-premises operations.
The ambition - true sustainability stats at a glance
Our vision is to offer a live dashboard that will help your organisation access a credible and auditable methodology for measuring its cloud contact centre carbon footprint. Incorporating QiO’s dashboard tool, you’ll be able to generate real-time reports showing the total energy emissions of your cloud contact centre services at any time, in granular-level detail.
To improve your energy efficiency even further, we intend to include AI-recommended control settings to identify and implement operating systems that reduce energy consumption, cost and carbon emissions in real-time.
We’re committed to building a sustainable operational future for our business and for our customers’ organisations. We’re proud that our CDP environmental rating is ‘A’ on climate (putting us in the top 3% of 9,500 global reporters) and that we’re ranked platinum by EcoVadis.
If you’d like to find out more about our work on sustainability and how we are developing tools to help your organisation achieve its environmental targets, visit our sustainability webpage.