As corporate citizens, we should always do business in ways that conserve our planet’s resources and that minimize the negative impact of our activities on the environment. This includes doing what we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing our use of energy, avoiding excess waste and preserving the earth’s natural environment for future generations. We all rely on natural resources to sustain life on our planet, and taking meaningful action to protect those resources is a critical aspect of being a good corporate citizen as well as a good citizen of the world.
Green awareness can be an integral part of our corporate culture. At the procurement level, thinking green extends to the choice of supplier companies — whether it is suppliers of cleaning fluids or printer paper, computer servers or video cameras. In the security department, personnel should develop a keen environmental consciousness and look for ways every day to translate that consciousness into action.
The impact on the security department should specifically include consideration of the environmental impact of technology choices and an effort to evaluate each supplier’s green record.
Green Is Good
Benefits of embracing green operations include:
• Savings on energy consumption. Whether choosing fuel-efficient vehicles or assessing the energy consumption of machinery and business systems, companies that use less energy will see the benefit of lower costs.
• Fewer emissions. Greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide [CO2]) are likely to be the subject of future regulations.
• More profit. Eliminating waste in the manufacturing process saves money. This is the basis of so-called “lean” manufacturing methods.
• Cost savings. Any company that adopts green policies can often realize operational savings of $6 to $8 for each $1 it saves in energy, according to one estimate by IBM.
• Compliance with regulations and standards. Environmental conformance may be required by the government or covered by voluntary requirements developed by standards or industry groups.
Preference for Green Suppliers
Companies look to their suppliers as a critical element in achieving green goals. A company might migrate to hybrid company cars to reduce greenhouse gases, or seek out products that are made using renewable energy or by a supplier that emits fewer greenhouse gases. They might also look for products that are made using fewer toxins that can harm human health or the environment. Many are moving towards products that contain the highest possible percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
One useful measure of a supplier company’s environmental impact is conformance to ISO 14000 environmental management standards aimed at minimizing how the manufacturing processes negatively impacts the environment, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and continuous improvement related to green practices. Manufacturers are certified by third-party organizations to document adherence to the standards.
Another certification related to electronic products is a directive issued by the European Union on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, commonly referred to as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. RoHS compliance reflects a significant reduction in the use of lead and five other hazardous materials in manufacturing: mercury, cadmium, hexavalent, chromium, polybrominated biphenyl and polybrominated diphenyl ether.
Green in the Security Market
Green considerations are an emerging element in the security marketplace. Unlike other markets where supplier companies have already been communicating their green record, most security suppliers have so far been quiet on the subject.
Their silence does not mean that green issues have not been a priority for our industry’s supplier companies.
Many global suppliers have had green compliance programs for years. For Panasonic, a corporate “eco ideas” initiative pledges to produce energy-efficient products, to reduce CO2 emissions in manufacturing and to encourage the global growth of environmental activities.
Here are some green elements to be considered that are specific to the security department:
1. Does a supplier company work to reduce emissions? Suppliers should have a goal of reducing CO2 emissions and optimizing productivity across all manufacturing processes, from planning through production. This includes developing manufacturing practices that produce low material waste as well as material recycling.
2. Does a supplier design products to minimize environmental impact? Smaller product sizes require less material processing in manufacturing, conserves natural resources and ultimately produces less material to recycle or discard, while maintaining established performance and reliability standards.
3. How much power do security products consume? The use of more energy-efficient equipment options can really make a difference, even related to low-voltage systems. For example, choosing a video camera that lowers power usage 30 percent may equate to only several dollars worth of energy savings in a year, but the amount can start to add up in a video system with dozens or hundreds of cameras.
4. Consider products that enable re-use of resources. Reusing cable, for example, can help to reduce waste. A technology component such as a converter to enable IP camera video to be sent over existing coaxial cable is one example. Another is the use of UTP (unshielded twisted pair) hub systems to send analog signals over copper cables, which could later be used again if the system is converted to Ethernet.
5. Use fewer physical products to minimize environmental impact. Power over Ethernet (PoE) solutions reduce the use of cable by enabling power to travel along the same cable as digital signals.
Making a Green Contribution
These ideas are just the beginning of how a security department can contribute to environmental efforts. Another way might be to consider the effect on a company’s carbon footprint of using surveillance of a remote location in lieu of requiring a manager to drive to the location (thus using gasoline, emitting automotive exhaust, etc.). There might be environmental benefits of using an access control system interfaced with a building’s other systems to turn out the lights when no one is in a section of the building, or to adjust the temperature based on building occupancy.
The bottom line is, progress in the greening of the security department must begin with a heightened consciousness of environmental concerns and attention to green issues in every aspect of operations. That awareness will cause changes that contribute to a company’s overall effort to become better corporate citizens. More important, it can also contribute to a global effort to change the world for the better. Future generations will thank us.
Bill Taylor is President, Panasonic System Networks Company of America.