Going Green for a Better Living
Srivalsan Ponnachath, SVP, Services Sales, Cisco India and SAARC
Environmental sustainability is a major global trend of the 21st century. A growing consensus from the scientific community that global warming is largely man-made has increased pressure on governments, corporations and consumers to come up with innovative measures that reduce carbon footprint.Limited energy supply and skyrocketing costs are driving the adoption of 'green technology.'Developing infrastructure that improves a community's environmental standing has become priority. Slowly, but surely, green buildings are becoming standard.
There are multiple benefits of going green. A green building concept is the demonstration of commitment to environment protection. Urban planners are taking the green route because 'green' brings with it significant cost savings. In addition to substantial reduction in the overall cost of operations, a green building promotes healthier living for the occupants while at the same time making sure that utility wastage (water, energy, natural resources) is kept to a minimum. Increase in space utilization besides reduction in electrical and network cabling, use of sustainable construction materials and land, are some of the other advantages of green buildings.
Making the network central to the green strategy of urban planning helps to plan and build better cities. It facilitates provision of additional services to citizens over the internet. All vital public services such as transportation, utilities, security, entertainment, education, and healthcare can leverage the network platform for service delivery. Within such 'smart' green buildings, devices and solutions are connected over IP to transform the physical space into a service offering.
Using IP to 'Go Green'
Integrated energy management systems support sophisticated power management within a green building. This helps conserve energy and leads to long-term environmental sustainability. Lighting automation solutions delivered over the converged IP network and centralized monitoring/control of elevators, HVAC and facilities help ensure that the building meets and exceed performance/efficiency standards.
With the knowledge of energy usage patterns, building operators can respond to power cuts and proactively manage the carbon footprint to build a sustainable environment. Convergence of multiple functions onto system devices makes it possible to reduce the amount of IT equipment needed, use systems that consume less power and make the use of all equipment more efficiently. This in turn results in a significant difference in cooling costs, enables a further reduction of the building's carbon footprint and reduces cost of building operations.
Solutions that use an intelligent IP-based network platform to address energy, water, and gas management and consumption based on real-time information and policy configurations help increase building efficacy. Connected real estate solutions that enable interoperable building management solutions over an IP backbone bring about the convergence of multiple proprietary networks that individually run elevators, lights, air-conditioning, security, power, water, voice, data and more. They help integrate building management systems with traditionally disparate control networks and manage energy consumption of devices over the network when they are not in use.
Innovative use of technologies like advanced communications, wireless network access, and virtual private networks (VPNs) in such 'smart and green' buildings helps create flexible work environments where employees can work from a variety of locations efficiently and reduce the organization's carbon footprint. To cite an example, an IT company which deployed such a strategy was able to reduce energy consumption by 18 million kilowatt hours in 18 months. Apart from a reduced carbon footprint, the company has saved an estimated $2 million in energy costs.
On an average, by adopting green technologies organizations can obtain the following savings:
- 40% increase in office space utilization
- 30% reduction in building operating expenses
- 40% reduction in electrical demand
- 54% reduction in IT cabling
- 50-60% water savings over conventional buildings
- Significant reduction in construction materials & land due to fewer sites being needed
- Increased collaboration
- Increased telecommuting and reduced traffic congestion
- Reduced Green House Gas emissions
Services for delivering green mandates
While adopting green technologies is a step forward in environment sustainability, without the right resources and expertise, implementing the latest and greatest green technologies is a risky and costly proposition. The basic requirement to enable buildings gain optimum benefits from green technology is a robust suite of network services that help various utilities to be connected on one platform.
Such services must transparently integrate several technological solutions together, enabling urban planners to implement safe, cost-efficient, and engaging living environments. This will benefit the people, the planet whilst saving time and money. The savings obtained can be re-invested on other public works priorities, including new technologies that enhance the standard of living.
Urban planners of today look for cost-effective and innovative services that combine network wide technical support with ongoing monitoring and maintenance. They seek ways to provide high value to their customers, while growing revenues. Adding intelligence to the network with capabilities such as embedded diagnostics, device interaction information and end-to-end integration can help deliver an integrated set of capabilities at the device, network and business process levels. It can also help to perform periodic assessments of the network, identify potential issues and resolve them in time.
A comprehensive collaborative services framework helps urban planners uncover unparalleled business opportunities to improve productivity, get the most from their technology investments and gain customer mindshare. Personalized services that come along with innovative applications and tools help create new business opportunities for a smarter and easier network management.
In general, services for a green building include the following:
- Blueprint / architecture / framework creation
- Carbon emission & control consulting
- Green building certification services - LEED / GRIHA (organizations like CII provide this)
- Green business models - to define ROI/payback metrics
- Green building technology services - to help customers with design and execution of plans.
Indicative of change in customer engagement strategy, such collaborative integration is underwritten by smarter devices, a smarter network, and smarter processes and operations. It is a structured, prioritized evolution path that combines customized technology solutions and services for bringing about environment sustainability. Taking a comprehensive approach to the care and improvement of the network, adds to long term benefit enroute.