Sustainability begins with IT: Cisco IT’s technique for a greener future


As the worldwide deal with local weather change continues to assemble momentum, IT professionals have a singular alternative to reduce destructive environmental impression on our planet by way of a considerate software of expertise. As an organization, Cisco has been setting and reaching targets to scale back our greenhouse gasoline emissions since 2008, and inside Cisco IT we’ve got mirrored these efforts with a lot of our personal initiatives comparable to recycling previous tools, optimizing our office, and taking a look at methods to make our knowledge centres greener.

When Cisco introduced its dedication to internet zero in September 2021, we needed to strategy the actions inside Cisco IT extra systematically — each to make sure we prioritized the areas that may have the most important impression and to align with the corporate’s technique to succeed in internet zero. To do that, we went by way of a three-step course of to create our personal Cisco IT Sustainability Framework, leading to a dwelling doc. Whereas our journey will change and evolve, we’re excited to share how we’ve got gotten began.

Step 1: Analysis trade viewpoints and requirements

We began by wanting on the newest analysis on greenhouse gasoline emissions and modeling of the paths to scale back emissions and keep away from the worst impacts of local weather change. We then learn reviews on the carbon emissions particularly from digital applied sciences (which incorporates IT) to grasp their relative impression dimension and composition. There may be fairly a little bit of variability in dimension estimates primarily based on scope, calculation methodologies and assumptions, and a few elements have modified over time on account of product effectivity positive factors and the greening of the electrical grid. Nonetheless, most estimates predict that digital makes up round 2-4% of whole greenhouse gasoline emissions.

IT clearly has a duty to scale back its emissions, and there’s well-documented analysis on the way to scale back these following science-based targets. Nonetheless, IT has a second duty — there’s analysis on the potential advantages that IT can have to scale back emissions in different verticals by way of issues like sensible buildings, sensible grid, hybrid work, and many others.

Whereas reviewing the literature, we recognised there have been challenges to beat alongside the way in which to keep away from rebound results and handle emissions from newer applied sciences like Synthetic Intelligence and Web of Issues. Nonetheless, analysis means that if the trade is considerate, IT might scale back international greenhouse gasoline emissions by as a lot as 15-20%.

Step 2: Understanding company emissions and reporting

After understanding the trade’s position in a world journey in direction of sustainability, we dove into Cisco’s personal emissions. We checked out our annual report on the ESG Hub (Environmental, Social, and Governance), the trade requirements we observe to supply that report, and the third events we submit our knowledge to for impartial evaluation. By means of this analysis we discovered that, along with Cisco’s internet zero goal, we’ve got quite a lot of public near-term targets, together with shifting use of electrical energy to renewable sources, discount in foam utilized in packaging, and discount in scope 3 emissions from our provide chain.

To know these near-term targets higher, we spoke to every of the groups concerned: provide chain, product engineering, reverse logistics, procurement, and amenities. We targeted our efforts on initiatives we felt IT might associate extra intently with (rising our use of renewable vitality), applications we felt we might take extra benefit of (Cisco Refresh), and concepts we felt we might replicate in IT (establishing Round Design Ideas and the way in which Provide Chain manages their suppliers).

Step 3: Creating the IT technique

In our remaining step, we talked with every IT Service perform to grasp what they had been doing already, shared what we had discovered, and constructed our Cisco IT Sustainability Framework. As soon as constructed, we reviewed the framework with sustainability consultants inside Cisco, with market analysts externally, and with a number of prospects who needed to develop their very own sustainability technique. We checked out a number of frameworks revealed by different organisations, however after a number of rounds of iteration we felt our framework fitted our wants the perfect. We’ve got now piloted this framework inside our IT Information Centre group, and showcased the ends in a whitepaper.

As we transfer to execution, our targets are initially round local weather change and circularity. Nonetheless, we recognise the significance of different areas — for instance, water conservation — so there’ll little question be iterations. A abstract of our framework is given under, and we’d love to listen to from you about any related work you might be doing.

Cisco IT Sustainability Framework

As pictured, our Cisco IT Sustainability Framework is organised in three layers. The highest layer of the framework reveals IT’s alignment to the broader firm initiatives – Cisco’s dedication to internet zero, the 5 methods the corporate has outlined to succeed in that aim, and the work IT will help with round accumulating knowledge for reporting. IT is extra concerned in a few of these methods than others. For instance, we check new Cisco services and products internally by way of our Buyer Zero and Cisco on Cisco applications. By means of this, we might be testing extra vitality environment friendly merchandise and options as they get developed.

The center layer has 4 pillars in blue. These pillars present how we’re embedding circularity ideas in our service lifecycle — specializing in how we design, procure, function, and decommission the services and products we offer. The fifth pillar in inexperienced calls out close to time period targets we’ve got stored a particular deal with. For the time being, this targeted aim is round Power Administration, given the brief timeframes Cisco has set itself to scale back Scope 1 & 2 emissions particularly.

The next breakdown gives a bit extra element on every of those 5 pillars:

  1. Sustainable by Design – Contemplating sustainability throughout design is vital whether or not you might be creating an software, designing a knowledge answer, deploying infrastructure, or managing finish consumer units. With this in thoughts, we’re creating sustainability design ideas to assist IT architects take into account the complete lifecycle and take a system considering strategy.. As talked about beforehand this strategy is mirroring work that has already been achieved to determine Round Design Ideas for the merchandise and programs Cisco sells to prospects.
  2. Accountable Procurement – Partaking our suppliers on sustainability is important to make sure we perceive the impression of the providers we provide, drive enchancment inside our provide chain, and perceive any dangers on account of misaligned internet zero ambitions. Our World Procurement Workplace has used scorecards for a few years for the suppliers we use to make the services and products we promote to prospects. These scorecards measure and handle suppliers’ conformance to Cisco’s necessities on environmental stewardship and human rights. We’ve now prolonged this identical scorecard to the spend IT has with its suppliers. Having these ESG metrics reported alongside value, high quality, and repair supply permits IT Service House owners and Procurement Managers to make extra knowledgeable selections when awarding enterprise to suppliers.
  3. Optimization of Operations – As Cisco continues its transformation, some IT providers might shift to a hybrid cloud structure or SaaS providing, some might change to assist new work patterns, and a few could also be redesigned to supply new providers to buyer and companions. Reviewing providers holistically regularly is vital to search for alternatives to be extra sustainable. Sustaining belongings at their highest and greatest use for so long as potential, monitoring asset utilization, and in search of alternatives to repurpose extra capability are all vital to optimize our operations.
  4. Improve Asset Restoration & Reuse – Cisco has a long-standing dedication (with applications in place for greater than twenty years!) to facilitate product returns from prospects for reuse and recycling, to supply complete service and restore, and to remanufacture used tools on the market by way of Cisco Refresh. Cisco IT leverages many of those identical applications internally, alongside its personal processes to reuse tools inside IT and in our labs. As a part of our deal with circularity we’ll proceed to search for methods to optimise what occurs to tools when it’s retired from manufacturing, and improve our personal inner use of remanufactured product.
  5. Power Administration – Cisco has a near-term goal to scale back absolute Scope 1 and a couple of emissions 90% by 2025 (in comparison with a fiscal yr 2019 baseline). Scope 2 contains electrical energy use and at this time roughly 80 p.c of Cisco’s operational electrical energy is used to energy and funky tools in our labs and knowledge facilities. As we speak, Cisco IT companions with our GEMS (World Power Administration & Sustainability) group to implement vitality effectivity and onsite renewable vitality initiatives. Our aim is to proceed to drive vitality effectivity in all our buildings globally, decreasing or eliminating underutilized area, guaranteeing sustainability in the way in which we function these amenities, and setting up monitoring to allow correct baseline and trending knowledge.

Tradition of Sustainability

Lastly, the underside layer of our framework recognises the vital position that tradition performs in driving sustainability into all the things we do. There are loads of present applications throughout Cisco that our IT staff participate in already. Moreover, we’ve got began to teach IT staff on our IT Sustainability Framework, the way it helps the corporate commitments, and take heed to their concepts on what else we will do.

We’ve been excited to share our IT journey up to now on this weblog. We recognise that Local weather Change is a large problem, and that no single IT organisation or firm can remedy it by itself. Inside Cisco — and inside Cisco IT — we’re dedicated to do our half. We hope that, working as a broader IT trade, and dealing with all our prospects, companions, and suppliers, we will do extra to guard our planet for future generations and assist drive a extra inclusive future for all.

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