The theme on my first blog of 2012 was Corporate Responsibilityand the many questions that burden business in 2012. We need to have a positive outlook to succeed in business.
We operate life and our decision making process on a set of 'required references'. These required references are the key to our view of life and our ability to make decisions.
Corporate responsibility and the many questions which burden business in 2012 may not be 'new', however, the solutions are going to have to be 'new'. What might we be asked today? Are we, aren't we in recession? ...In negative growth? ...In positive projection? Who knows and who can say with certainty?
In the 2012 world of economic uncertainty, all businesses are looking for ways to attract more customers, increase profits and cut unnecessary expenses.
Superpowers. Sometimes they get used for good, sometimes they get used for evil. I’m partial to the ‘using-them-for-good’ angle, as most people are. However, being totally honest, if I could see into the future, I would absolutely write down the winning lottery numbers and take that jackpot home! Don’t lie – you’d do it too…right…? I won’t be holding my breath for that to happen though, as that type of superpower doesn’t tend to exist outside of whatever superhero blockbuster is in the theatres at the moment. It’s July – Will Smith should be releasing something in 3…2…1.
However, in terms of big business, there does exist a fair amount – ok, a LARGE amount – of real-world superpowers. These powers can be used for evil – (see: swindling people’s life savings for your own profit) – and can cause a devastating ripple effect which impacts peoples’ lives in heart breaking ways. We’ve almost become accustomed to turning on the news and hearing about yet another big business with less than satisfactory regard for how it deploys its superpowers. So, it’s always a pleasure to see big, powerful companies using their superpowers for good - especially when those companies are in sectors typically seen as less than environmentally friendly. Let’s give a couple of those a shout out, shall we?
Heavy sigh. I just read an article that dampened my day – and that’s saying something considering the rainy Vancouver weather we’ve been experiencing this spring. I read that the carbon dioxide emitted by energy use hit a record high globally in 2010. After a slight dip caused by the global financial crisis in 2009, CO2 emissions are estimated to have reached 30.6 Gigatonnes. That’s a lot of tons.
One of my least favourite things to do is to go grocery shopping. I’m usually there at the worst times (right after work, along with the rest of the population of Vancouver), I usually forget my list (and subsequently all the items of which I’m most in need), and I almost always end up in line behind someone who’s paying for their bill in nickels, dimes and pennies (or, you know, I’m that person). Some people love it, some people don’t. I definitely fall into the latter category. But, while I do not enjoy grocery shopping, I do enjoy food and therefore find myself at the grocery store at regular intervals.
What has never crossed my mind until quite recently however, was how much energy these supermarkets use to power their refrigeration systems. There are a lot of coolers and freezers in supermarkets and a lot of them are open to the air, which means they are running constantly and using up a significant amount of electricity.
Some of you may be wondering about the hummingbird on a site about energy efficiency for buildings, so let me explain. First, hummingbirds are pretty amazing, what with their crazy migratory paths and their feistiness around the feeder. Second and more specifically, hummingbirds use such an incredible amount of energy while being amazing and flying backwards and dive bombing people sunbathing near the bird feeder and doing all those other hummingbird-y things, that they need to eat more than their own weight in food every day.
Consider your building, wherever and whatever it may be. House, data center, office tower, supermarket, restaurant… does not matter. Every building around the world has dozens of ‘emloyees’, otherwise known as appliances and systems. These various ’employees’ in each building, from the the data center air conditioner to the restaurant walk-in cooler, all perform specific tasks within their area of responsibility.
I had gruel for breakfast this morning. At least that's what it looked like, but technically it was a bowl of steel-cut oats with raisins and pumpkin seeds added in for a bit of flair. I could really taste the health oozing out of it and I hated every minute of it. The only good part of this appalling meal was that it was homemade and pretty low on the energy-intensity scale.
A beautiful old house down the street from me sold a few weeks ago. In Vancouver’s ludicrous real estate market, that is nothing remarkable. What really floored me though, was when I walked past the other day and saw one of those big signs up in front of the house, indicating that it is on the chopping block to be demolished.
Whenever I prepare myself for a day of surfing the net, I can't help but imagine what is happening in the world to make this possible. As I brew my coffee and make my breakfast, thousands of servers in thousands of data centers are quietly plugging away to ensure that the internet continues to be accessible 24/7/365.