Historically, data hasn’t been very good for the environment, but the future of green data looks bright. Before the Internet and email, massive data meant mountains of paper — usually it was printed out in triplicate on a noisy dot matrix printer so analysts could pore over the details. Today, data is much greener. Analysts use databases instead of dot matrix, presentations are sent via web portals instead of snail mail, and email is a primary form of communication. There’s still room for improvement, though, as companies like Apple and Google illustrate.
Green Data Centers
Even if data centers don’t use a single piece of paper — and, let’s face it, there isn’t an office on the planet without a healthy stash of sticky notes — electricity and other resources are still being gobbled up in the name of analysis. Companies like Apple and Google are taking steps to reduce resources, designing centers that operate all or in part on sustainable energy such as solar power. The benefits of going green with data include tax incentives, energy cost savings, increased hardware safety in optimal conditions, and a reduced environmental footprint.
Tips for Going Green with Business Data
You don’t have to overhaul your entire business to make an impact on the environment. But going digital with records and files has a number of benefits. Most companies save money once records are in digital format because they are easier to manage, locate, and secure. For the medical industry, converting paper files into digital ones are now mandatory to be HIPAA compliant.
In addition to digital records, you can go green with data by:
- Encouraging employees to limit the amount of information that is printed or copied in hard formats.
- Providing access to training materials and other essential documents on a secure employee Intranet or web portal.
- Developing recycling processes for paper or working with a shredding service that offers recycling options (like Sergeant Shredder).
- Reducing energy consumption through common sense measures such as switching lights off at the end of the day and using only those parts of the building necessary for business functions.
How do you use green data in your business?