As we continue to barrel headlong through the digital age, surrounded by ever-changing technology and terminology, you might find yourself a little stumped about the buzz surrounding sustainability. Green business has become big business, and you might hear the terms, “green tech,” “clean tech,” and “sustainable tech” thrown around interchangeably. While the terms are similar, there are some subtle differences, but you should know that green tech and clean tech both fall under the sustainable tech umbrella. Let’s sort out what it all means and how your business can embrace sustainability moving forward.
Clarifying the Terms
It’s difficult to identify and implement areas of sustainable technology if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology. Here’s a simplified rundown of the nuances between green tech, clean tech, and sustainable tech.
Technologies and practices designed to minimize their negative impact on the environment. This can include technologies that promote energy efficiency, reduce emissions, conserve resources, and generally promote environmental sustainability. The focus of green tech is on creating solutions that have a lower carbon footprint and reduce the strain on natural resources.
Technologies that aim to provide cleaner alternatives to traditional processes and systems, thereby reducing pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and other harmful impacts. This can include innovations in air and water purification, waste management, and more. Clean tech solutions often prioritize sustainability and reducing the negative outputs associated with traditional industrial practices.
A holistic approach to technology development by considering not only environmental impacts but also social and economic factors. Sustainable tech aims to create solutions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable tech solutions seek to strike a balance between environmental, societal, and economic considerations to create a more balanced and resilient future.
So, what does that all mean for you and your SMB? Much of this will depend on your industry, but let’s examine the broader benefits and challenges of implementing sustainable technology.
How Does Sustainable Tech Benefit SMBs?
Aside from the obvious long-term benefits for the health of the planet, there are several advantages to including sustainable technology in your business practices. When you run more efficient machines, devices, and peripherals, you could be looking at significant long-term cost savings. If you work in an industry that monitors emissions or other environmental impacts, sustainable tech can also help you meet and maintain regulatory compliance.
Getting on board with sustainable tech also gives you a competitive advantage over others in your field, both in terms of productivity AND brand reputation. While climate change is a highly politicized issue, customers will always be more inclined to work with a company that isn’t actively harming the environment. Your employees also want to know that you’re being proactive and protective of the future and may want to actively engage in helping to implement sustainable solutions. This environmental awareness and employee engagement will contribute to the long-term stability and resiliency of your workforce and your facilities.
Potential Challenges to Implementing Sustainable Tech
While sustainable technology sounds like a great idea in theory, implementing it isn’t always a piece of cake. There can be obstacles to including sustainable tech, not the least of which are initial investment costs, especially for new technologies, which also might be in high demand, have limited suppliers, and have long lead times or supply chain interruptions. You may also experience concerns with integration, and that might lead to an “all or nothing” approach which could end up either costing more or leaving you behind your competitors who perform upgrades before you.
In addition, there are some limiting factors to consider when thinking about adding or upgrading to sustainable technology. It can take time to see ROI on sustainable tech, which shouldn’t be surprising because the focus of sustainability is on the long term. That uncertainty might make you hesitant to invest in tech that may or may not pay off. Another limiting factor is the expertise of you, your employees, and your clients. How long will it take to learn all this new technology? Training costs, customer notifications and tutorials, and other learning aids all cut into your budget and resources. Again, you have to consider the long-term ROI before implementing sustainable technology.
Still Unsure How to Sort It All Out?
With all the benefits and obstacles in mind, it can be difficult to decide what to do and when to do it! One thing to keep in mind is that changes can be small and snowball over time. Things like upgrading your work environment with programmable thermostats and energy-efficient light bulbs also count as sustainable tech—not all tech upgrades need to be complicated to be eco-friendly. Consider doing a sustainability audit, which examines every aspect of your business, from energy usage to emissions. This can give you a solid idea of what you can feasibly do now and what you can plan for in the future.
Some other small ideas that lead to big impacts are:
- Putting lights on timers
- Updating plumbing to include water-saving fixtures
- Upgrading HVAC systems and raising/lowering the thermostat by a few degrees
- Using cloud data storage instead of power-drawing, heat-emitting onsite servers
If you still need assistance figuring out your sustainable tech options, consider partnering with an MSP, or manager service provider. An MSP has experienced IT professionals who always keep one eye on the present and one eye on the future to know what technological advances are coming down the pike. They’ll help you manage, maintain, upgrade, and implement new sustainable technology at a pace that’s just right for your business. An MSP can also connect you to vCIO (virtual Chief Information Officer) and TAM (Technology Alignment Manager) services to help you build your business’s IT roadmap for long-term futurization, including integrating sustainable tech.
The Future is Coming Fast!
Sustainable tech is the face of the future, and you don’t want to be left behind. If you’re ready to explore the benefits of sustainable tech but need help navigating its challenges, get in touch! Seasoned IT professionals are here to answer all your questions.