Shoring up sustainability is no longer just an option – it’s a necessity.

This is not just because of climate change, carbon taxes or corporate responsibility,  but also for the simple fact that it can dramatically improve the corporate bottom line.

Sustainability in corporate operations can lead to bottom-line reductions of as much as 80 per cent in energy costs and 90 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions. Many CEOs, CFOs and CIOs believe sustainability upgrades to building or IT infrastructure and operations is a nice to have but not affordable as the return on investment (ROIS) could take five to 10 years. The truth of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the low hanging fruit can in fact yield ROIs of six to 18 months while major infrastructure upgrades can often yield ROIs in two to three years.

There are several pervasive compliance standards that relate to sustainable IT and Data Centres, including:

  • National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act (2007)
  • Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) Act (2006)
  • National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS)
  • Energy Management Programs AS3598:2000
  • Environmental Management Systems ISO14001
  • Quality Management Standards ISO9001
  • EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres
  • New ISO to come in about 2 years (SC39) for IT Workload and Data centres

So are these compliance standards going to make  building owners cheer or scream? In other words, how does the cost of such compliance relate to the ROI? It would be entirely understandable if one felt compelled to sit on the screaming squad, but compliance work can dramatically improve the corporate bottom line – it is possible to make compliance work in such as way as to yield excellent ROIs.

The solutions must be holistic, innovative, practical and cost effective. There is such an abundance of conservatism within the industry that good ROIs often get left behind. There are some excellent “recipes,” all of which are project dependent. These recipes include a comprehensive level 3 audit to AS3598:2000 and EU Code of Conduct for data centres where IT and computer rooms/data centres are involved.

Builders and building owners should find an organisation willing to take full responsibility for the refurb/upgrade without sacrificing the ROI. One must then ensure that whoever is selected stays on for at least 12 months after the project has been commissioned to ensure the numbers and ROIs are actually met.

With the right processes and through working with the right client-centric organisations, compliance should indeed be cheered on by all investors, C- level and boards of directors as they tick all the boxes for the bottom line and the environment.