“In our personal lives, it’s centric – you see global warming everywhere,” says Jessica Handley, Partner Alliances Coordinator, AC3. “You see a lot of communication about saving the planet, but I’ve never really seen much communication about it in the corporate sense. That’s what we’re starting the conversation around – how can we be a better and more mature company in this space?”
General Manager of Finance and Corporate Services, James Meharg, agrees. “At the deepest level, climate change is an existential threat that affects the world and AC3 has a part in that, through emissions not just from doing business, but offering our products and services,” he says.
There is a particular area of concern that AC3 is looking to address, they say. “The emissions from our industry and data centres in particular are huge. And it’s growing,” says Meharg. “Emissions from data centres are equivalent to all the emissions from air travel … but we want to be setting an example among our peers and our customers in terms of doing something about it.”
And they are. AC3’s current strategy is two-pronged. First, it is working with the Australian Government’s Climate Active program to achieve carbon neutral certification. “We’re looking to not only offer carbon neutral products and services in the coming months, but to have the whole business of AC3 certified as carbon neutral in the next four years,” says Meharg. The government program has a process that enables AC3 to calculate its emissions. It will undertake measures to avoid and reduce these as much as possible, says Meharg, and any that can’t be reduced will be offset. When certification is gained, AC3 will be able to offer the carbon neutral product or service to its customers.
“We’re targeting the two largest services we offer,” says Meharg. “Our private data centre and our at-scale offering.”
With data centres a major target, upgrading hardware can make a huge impact, says Meharg. “As time goes on, IT equipment becomes more and more energy efficient. Really old IT equipment in data centres draws a lot more electricity than brand new kit, so upgrading and refreshing the equipment stack is the biggest contribution we can make to reducing our footprint.”
With equipment becoming cheaper and budgets put in place for capital expenditure on cyclical renewal, the result is more energy efficient hardware, he explains.
And the old equipment? Does that get added to the ever-growing mountain of e-waste threatening the planet? No, says Meharg.
AC3’s partnership with HP means it is able to take full advantage of its Asset Lifecycle Solutions. “They either reuse it or they deconstruct it and recycle a huge % of the materials,” explains Meharg. “It’s something they’re really proud of, and we are proud to be part of the program.”
The second pillar of the strategy is enrolling in HP’s Amplify Impact program, which was launched in 2021 with the goal of driving “meaningful change across the global IT industry”, according to HP’s website. Signing up for the program for a financial year, HP’s partners are able to access the organisation’s extensive resources and experience to improve their own sustainability goals and performance. HP has vowed to attempt to enrol at least half of its partners in the voluntary program by 2025.
For its part, AC3 has already formed its own internal committee as part of the program. It’s a CSR (corporate social responsibility) group, says Handley, but is in essence a sustainability committee. Heading it up, she and Meharg say they’ve been encouraged by the positive response so far. “We discovered a lot of our employees already have interest in sustainability,” she says, noting that several staff members revealed previous experiences and qualifications in the area.
“The purpose of the committee is to get that validity. Is AC3 going in the right direction for our staff and customers?” she says. There are currently 12 members, with each business unit encouraged to provide one person so that the discussion isn’t limited to the executive or senior leadership level of the company. “We’re trying to get that engagement across every aspect of the business,” says Handley
“We’re very surprised and happy with the response we received. We had different ages, different demographics and everyone is really engaged and asking productive questions.”
Passing on the benefits
The upshot of AC3’s strategy is that every step it takes toward carbon neutrality is a positive step forward for its customers too.
”When our customers calculate their emissions from their partners and suppliers, they have to take into account the emissions from AC3’s products and services. By being able to offer a certified carbon neutral option for our product or service, then we are helping customers to reduce our customers’ emissions as well,” says Meharg.
“If you’re a customer of ours and you’ve got your own targets for reducing your emissions, then you don’t have to worry about the issues from the work you do with AC3, because we’ve got that covered,” says Meharg.