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With demand for energy in India projected to almost triple by 2020 from current levels, many Indian companies are relooking at the ways they consume energy, and are deploying tools and technologies to reduce energy wastage and become carbon positive. In this context, InformationWeek spoke to Chitra Byregowda, Associate Director, Sustainability and Diversity, Mindtree, who explains Mindtree’s efforts to become carbon neutral.
Please elaborate on some of the major sustainability initiatives that you have taken in the company?
Ecological sustainability is one of the key pillars of Mindtree’s sustainability framework. With the increasing centrality of issues such as climate change, energy security and water stress, we recognize environmental risks and the importance of managing our impact on the environment. We aim to do this through resource conservation practices, greenhouse gas emissions reduction, efficient energy management, water efficiency and sustainable waste management. We will achieve all of this by engaging and making each Mindtree Mind a responsible citizen and a sustainability evangelist.
Mindtree, since its inception has focused on human and environmental welfare. One can see a great example in planting 10,000 trees marking the celebration of us completing 10 years of existence and reaching 10,000 Mindtree Minds. It officially started the green journey in 2009 determined to reduce its carbon footprint through initiatives to manage energy, waste and water. The Mindtree Green Council (MGC), an overarching governance body that supports alignment of business objectives with green initiatives, leads the green initiatives. These are largely run by the green communities who are passionate advocates for change and eco-friendliness within and outside Mindtree
The Environmental Management system (EMS) framework is the backbone of our environmental charter. The EMS framework helps us identify key aspects and impacts on the environment, based on which goals are set. It also ensures regulatory compliance and enables effective management review. All our India offices are ISO 14001: 2004 certified
Mindtree’s approach to environmental stewardship is based on the four aspects of ecological sustainability:Energy efficiency, Water management, GHG emissions and Waste management
Energy availability is a core area of our resource conservation efforts. Mindtree, being a business that is dependent on people and IT infrastructure, recognizes that energy impacts business directly and indirectly. Energy availability itself is a concern. Frequent power shortages increase dependency on diesel generators to power offices and IT systems, in turn increasing not just operational costs, but more importantly, carbon emissions.
Water scarcity is a growing reality in the world around us. At Mindtree, water conservation has gained increased importance over the last few years. Water is drawn from three sources – ground water, municipal water supplies and private purchase. We have put in place rainwater harvesting systems in late 2012-13 – this will allow us to capitalize on water harvesting from the upcoming monsoons.
100 percent of the outlet water from our facilities is treated using Sewage Treatment plants (STP’s) available at our own and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP’s) at our builder’s premises. We recycle approximately 8 percent of water using owned STP’s. This water is reused internally for flushing and landscaping purposes.
Green House Gas (GHG) emissions
Since 2009, Mindtree has been measuring and reducing its carbon emissions. Our GHG mitigation strategy works on a three pronged approach – resource conservation practices, energy efficiency and sustainable waste management.
At Mindtree, we are diligent about tracking and managing our waste levels. We continually assess the operational risks to the environment and take care to recycle our waste wherever possible. 65 percent of the waste generated at our facilities is recycled through authorized vendor tie-ups.
We have adopted the LEED green building design for our infrastructure, 3 of our India offices are certified to LEED gold standards. Our upcoming LEED platinum certified Bhubaneswar campus and Gold certified Bangalore campuses have benefited from our best practices over the years.
Our Green community is driven by our Green Council and has been a passionate advocate for change and eco-friendliness within Mindtree, spearheading several worthy initiatives in the fields of energy, water, waste management and pollution mitigation.
What are some of the traditional assumptions that you have questioned in your ‘green’ journey?
Supply chain should not be just environment friendly but also sustainable, responsible, ethical and local.
What are some of the innovative technology initiatives (sensors, apps) that have helped your company reduce its carbon footprint? How?
We have done the following: Refurbishing of cooling towers, De-scaling of water chillers
and using waste compost machine for composting organic waste.
What are the major eco-friendly initiatives that you have taken with respect to your data center – from a design and energy efficiency point of view?
What are some of the major benefits that these initiatives have delivered to the company?
Mindtree’s Energy Efficiency focus has helped us achieve a reduction of 782Mwh through energy efficiency measures in the areas of IT infrastructure, cooling, lighting and general operations, LEED green building design for new campus, use of solar heaters, installation of solar power panels on rooftop cafeteria, descaling of chiller condenser lines etc.
Rainwater harvesting systems allow us to capitalize on water harvesting from the upcoming monsoons. We are constantly exploring better methods to monitor measure and conserve our water. We have implemented waterless urinals at our Bangalore campuses. Additionally, we have installed water filters in washroom taps at our Chennai office that regulates the supply of water hence reducing consumption: 2580KL + 2874KL rain water saved and used to recharge ground water.
100 percent of the outlet water from our facilities is treated using Sewage Treatment plants (STP’s) available at our own and Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP’s) at our builder’s premises. We recycle water using these facilities and the water is reused internally for flushing and landscaping purposes (8 percent reduction achieved)
Typically 37 percent of print jobs do not get printed. Today, we delete these print jobs from the memory automatically after 48 hours (saves paper)
By introducing card swipe to login to printers, average time taken for login process is reduced by 90 percent (saves energy). We use only FSC certified paper for printing.
On an average 80 percent of printers are on energy saving mode for about 60 percent of the time on any given day (saves energy)
Video conferencing has helped us to conduct various meeting and their by reduced travel cost and increased the user productivity. We use video conferencing tools for internal review, meeting with customers or prospects, for senior management hiring, training, for conducting town hall sessions, for knowledge transfer and for board meetings.
Approximately 18,300 web conferences get organized per month over Lync (internal office communicator). Additionally, over 8,950 audio conferences get organized per month
Is your company a carbon neutral company today? If yes, what are some of the major projects that have helped your firm reduce your carbon footprint? If no, then by when do you think your company can be one, and what are the steps that you will take to make this possible?
We are not yet Carbon neutral. Energy efficiency is a core area of our resource conservation efforts. Mindtree recognizes being a business that is dependent on people and IT infrastructure, energy impacts business directly and indirectly.. Energy availability itself is a concern, considering that the major operational footprint is in Indian cities. Frequent power shortages increase dependency on diesel generators , in turn increasing not just operational costs, but more importantly, carbon emissions.
The implementation of energy efficiency measures in the areas of IT infrastructure, cooling, lighting and general operations has resulted in a savings of 782 MWh in the year 2012-13.
We have adopted the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment design) green building design for our infrastructure to reduce environmental footprint. Our other initiatives are described in the previous responses.
In the next 2-3 years, what are some of the sustainable initiatives planned by your firm?
We started our sustainability journey in 2009 and started assessing our processes and procedures to track and reach the long term targets. We have developed a detailed 5 year reduction matrix for our GHG emissions in line with the 2012-13 baseline. We are anticipating a decrease in both Scope 1 and 2 emissions in the upcoming year. Our target is to reduce energy consumption per capita, GHG footprint (Scope 1 + 2 + 3) per capita, water consumption per capita by 5 percent year on year and increase percentage of waste recycled from 65 to 85 percent by 2015. We are implementing various initiatives to enable footprint reduction and resource efficiency measures to cater to these targets.