Qantas cuts IT carbon footprint to hit sustainability goal
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Qantas cuts IT carbon footprint to hit sustainability goal

Andy McCue — October 2013
Australian airline optimizes IT energy use to put 2020 efficiency target in its sights.

Qantas has slashed the energy consumption of its IT infrastructure as part of a wider corporate sustainability goal to reduce the Australian airline's environmental footprint by 10% by 2020.

The company’s $4.4 billion annual fuel bill accounts for almost 95% of its overall carbon footprint but, with 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, IT still has a major role to play in contributing to overall environmental sustainability targets.

“Technology underpins our every move. Smart analytics is changing the way we plan and respond.”

“Every one of our 35,000 staff uses technology in the workplace. If we can give visibility to the environmental impact of that and encourage them to reduce energy use, people’s behavior will change,says David Glover, head of technology security, risk and safety for the Qantas Group.

Technology plays a central role in supporting the group’s broader efficiency and corporate social responsibility goals and, during the past five years, it has already virtualized its server estate, resulting in lower cost of delivery and power usage.
Low-hanging fruit

The starting point for Qantas to align its IT strategy with corporate sustainability goals was a benchmarking exercise carried out in conjunction with its technology partner Fujitsu. The ‘Quick Start’ benchmark report highlighted the importance of metrics and identified the low-hanging fruit of IT power management as an area for quick wins, with the use of specialist software there providing payback on investment in less than a year.

Further detailed analysis and assessment pinpointed changes that resulted in significant financial savings from the annual energy usage of 40,000 IT assets, reducing CO2 emissions by thousands of tonnes. “Technology underpins our every move. Smart analytics is changing the way we plan and respond,” explains Glover.

A new corporate Qantas Campus opened in early 2013, with purpose-built, environmentally sensitive office wings featuring sensor-controlled lighting and effective management of printing and paper usage. And later this year the airline’s IT division and its infrastructure will also move to new premises, which will enable greater use of hot desking, exploit collaboration and communication technologies more fully, and improve the ability to measure and report on energy use.

The IT department will implement the Fujitsu ICT Sustainability Framework, which includes a measurement and reporting toolset. Specialist power management software will quantify energy use, reduction strategies and savings, and Qantas will shortly be able to produce documented proof of its reductions that will enable it to pursue state government energy efficiency credits.

This energy reduction and environmental footprint strategy by the IT department is now setting an example across the airline and has board-level backing from its Environment, Resilience and Workplace Transformation Unit, which sits in the office of the CEO at Qantas.

“The 2020 target is for a 10% reduction in our footprint — while gaining all the cost benefits,” says John Valastro, head of the unit. “We’re on track to deliver because these targets are visible to everyone and we are able to work across the group to make sure that better practices in energy efficiency are widely shared.” This effort ticks all the boxes, he says.

Qantas is already progressing well against this target, with a 2.9% reduction in electricity usage, according to the group’s 2012 sustainability review. “Delivery is absolutely fundamental and successful execution means holding every division to account — so metrics are crucial,” adds Valastro.
First published October 2013
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