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Using ICT to reduce the burden on the environment
 
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photo credit: Fujitsu
Michinori Kutami
General Manager, Corporate Environmental Strategy Unit
Fujitsu Limited

Combating global warming is an urgent task for us all. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends that, worldwide, we must aim for the target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to half the current levels by 2050 — but this will be difficult to achieve using conventional approaches. Innovation will be required in a variety of fields. We need advanced technologies, new social systems, and a new market system. We have to change our lifestyles and our use of resources and energy. At Fujitsu, we consider that information and communication technologies (ICT) can play a significant role in promoting these changes.

Fujitsu’s Green Policy Innovation

The Fujitsu Group, as a provider of ICT products and services worldwide, believes that it is extremely important to leverage the key characteristics of these technologies for the benefit of society overall. ICT have the ability to improve efficiency and cut the use of material goods, thus reducing energy demands and the burden upon the environment. ICT will be key in, for example, reducing the amount of paper used in offices and the need to move people or goods about, and in making possible the transition from mechanical systems to software. Solutions such as videoconferencing, e-learning, or integrated point-of-sale systems can all help to lessen the environmental load.

While working towards reducing the environmental impact of our own factories and offices, Fujitsu must help to reduce the impact of society as a whole. For this purpose, in December 2007 the Fujitsu Group launched its Green Policy Innovation project (see Figure 1). Its aim is to cut the carbon footprints of our customers by means of green ICT.

The project has two approaches: “of ICT” and “by ICT”. The former means reducing the environmental impact of ICT equipment itself, while the latter involves introducing many kinds of environmentally-friendly solutions through using ICT in customers’ activities. We have put all of the Fujitsu Group’s technologies and know-how into developing green ICT, and our solutions include software and services, as well as equipment such as networks, electronic devices, semiconductors and data centres. In Japan, the Fujitsu Group is aiming, through its Green Policy Innovation project, to achieve a 7-million-ton reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by our customers for the four-year period from 2007 through 2010.

Visualizing the reduction of emissions

It is important for clients to be able to visualize how ICT can help in a practical way. At Fujitsu, we evaluate CO2 emissions before and after the introduction of an ICT solution, so as to calculate and demonstrate its efficacy. Environmental effects are classified into seven categories, covering such areas as consumption of material resources, transport of people or goods, office and warehouse space, ICT equipment, and data communication networks. These are converted into carbon emission figures, and the totals compared before and after use of the ICT solution.

Relevant departments within Fujitsu check for solutions estimated to be capable of producing a reduction in CO2 emissions of 15 per cent or more. These certified solutions are then announced on the Fujitsu website as being environmentally friendly. To make it easier to evaluate solutions, Fujitsu calculates CO2 emissions per square or cubic metre in the case of materials, for example, or per piece of equipment in the case of components or products.

Figure 1 — Fujtsu Group’s “Green Policy Innovation” project   
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Source: © Fujitsu Limited 2008.

Examples of ICT solutions

One example of an environmentally friendly solution is e-learning. With traditional face-to-face education, there are many environmental loads, including the CO2 emissions caused by people having to travel to training facilities and by the distribution of materials such as paper texts. These are avoided with the digital solution of e-learning. We calculate that, for a training programme for 5000 employees, for instance, a 93-per-cent reduction in CO2 emissions could be achieved.

The digital tachograph made by Fujitsu is a second example. When attached to vehicles, this device automatically records such data as the distance traveled, speed, operational route, and operating time. The information can be used to promote more ecofriendly driving. Estimates show that a reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 19 per cent is made possible by introducing digital tachographs.

Figure 2 — CO2 reduction through ICT solutions   
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Source: © Fujitsu Limited 2008.

Another example is the IPKNOWLEGE internal information system first offered by Fujitsu in 2000 and installed in some 300 local government offices in Japan. This package integrates multiple systems, such as document management, financial accounting, general administration, electronic settlements, and staff salaries. By way of example, Figure 2 shows the results achieved at one office. Before introducing IPKNOWLEDGE, a conventional client-server system was used. Documents were created by hand and all forms were processed on paper — and thus occupied storage space. The new system is web-based using servers. It has achieved a paperless workflow and has reduced the amount of space needed for document storage. A comparison of the total environmental impact before and after introduction of this system showed that, overall, a 45-per-cent reduction had been achieved.

Protecting Earth

Fujitsu now has more than 160 certified solutions by which ICT can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The company will continue to pursue its basic goal of cutting the carbon footprint of its own offices and factories, but it believes that its most significant role is helping to reduce the burden placed upon the environment in a variety of fields, through the use of green ICT solutions. Step by step, we would like to reduce the environmental impact of society as a whole, through utilizing the potential and possibilities of ICT. Cooperation to reach this goal is needed beyond the borders of countries, regions, industries, and companies. We strongly believe that it is our duty to hand a beautiful Earth to the next generation.

 


The orginal version of this article appeared in “New Breeze” (No 4 Vol 21, October 2009), the journal of the ITU Association of Japan

 

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