HP further bolstered its green credentials earlier this week, committing itself to reducing its global energy use by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2010 through the development of energy efficient products and the adoption of new operating practices.
The new target strengthens HP's existing environmental strategy, which it announced late last year in conjunction with the World Wildlife Federation. Under the plan the company said it would enhance the energy efficiency of its products and operations, source more energy from renewable sources, support energy efficiency metrics for IT kit, force suppliers to adopt best practices and report on its progress based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
However, besides these initiatives the plan included just one verifiable target in the form of a commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 15 percent by 2010.
Now the vendor has gone one better and also committed itself to reducing energy use – a move that means it can no longer meet its CO2 reduction target by simply sourcing renewable energy and doing nothing to curb energy use.
Critics have argued that such an approach in countries with a shortage of renewable energy has little short term impact on overall carbon emissions as any firm buying green energy is simply stopping others from using it and having little overall impact on the amount of renewable energy that is available.
However, HP also said it would continue to expand the proportion of energy it buys from renewable sources and having purchased 11m kWh last year plans to buy 50m kWh in 2007.
"Sustainability should span the entire business, from product reuse and recycling, to a socially and environmentally responsible supply chain, to energy efficiency in products and internal operations," said Pat Tiernan, vice president of Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility at HP. "It's the whole package."
With IT manufacturing a highly energy intensive process meeting its 20 percent target will not be easy for HP. But the company will be hoping that the investments it will have to make in its facilities will deliver a return in the form of both reduced electricity bills and enhanced competitiveness in large corporate and public sector accounts that are increasingly using IT manufacturers' environmental records as a factor in purchasing decisions.
Given this context the move is also likely to crank up pressure on rival IT manufacturers to unveil their own verifiable green targets or risk seeing their competitiveness in the largest accounts compromised.
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