Playing Your Part in Going Green

When it comes to going green, IT can be both part of the problem and part of the solution. It has been shown that information and communications technology accounts for close to 2% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, around the same amount as produced by the aviation industry. However, IT also gives us the tools to reduce our energy consumption and give us an inside look at how we are using our resources.

We recently spoke with a number of green IT advocates at the PepCom conference – amongst them was filmmaker and environmentalist Sebastian Copeland, who shared with us his advice on encouraging your friends and coworkers to go green. We’ve partnered with Sebastian to provide technology for a number of his previous extreme excursions, including his recent walk to the North Pole. Check out my colleague at HP, Greta Schlender, interview Sebastian in the video below.

Copeland stresses the importance of accountability for our actions at all levels – and says the three modes of social change to achieve a greener world are individuals, elected officials, and businesses. He believes that as employees in government, we have the ability to influence in all three modes – as individual consumers we can develop good habits to turn off the lights or shutdown our computers every day, as elected officials we can push for the new green policies that our environment needs and our constituency demands, and as part of a office within that government organization we can encourage others in our facility to go green with us.

Copeland also reminds us that the first step towards sustainability is assuring that everyone has the proper education about what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Plans to educate can also be executed on by individual consumers, government officials and businesses alike. For starters, begin by looking for efficiency labels like EnergyStar or our HP Eco Highlights label that indicate products that meet energy-savings environmental standards and use innovative materials. At HP, we’ve learned there are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint (some which may surprise you). And if you are looking for more ways to go green in your office, check out my recent post about some of the methods that you can use to reduce energy consumption within your agency.

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Shelley Temkin

The “good” produced by technology so far outweighs the bad I hardly find it worth mentioning. I was a vendor selling services to Government Entities of all sizes – from a school district in Arizona that consisted to a few locations to the second largest city in the US and many inbetween. During that time I saw abuse of our natural resources that many of you might not think about too often. I complained to my collegues who all agreed with me but what good was that? Here’s a sample of my complaining: I’m traveling from Southern California to a city outside of Phoenix to attend a pre-bid meeting. It’s scheduled for 1:00 PM. I fly over in the morning, rent a car, grab a quick lunch, drive on over and sit in the car until the meeting starts. The meeting is attended by all of the significant providers in my field and we are all sitting in an auditorium a few minutes before the meeting convenes. There was a short presentation, a call for questions, no questions and so in 10 minutes we were done – the meeting concluded. (Upon returning to the office and responding with a proposal I’d have to prepare 8 hardbound copies for delivery in a couple of weeks. This is for another discussion on another segement of my company).

When I lost my job a couple of years ago I decided to take my complaining and turn it into what I think is an outstanding solution and a great business – Green Proposals. The concept is pretty simple yet the rewards to both Government Entities and their vendors is huge. Our premier service is facilitating pre-bid meetings via webinar at no cost to the buying agency. The vendors pay a nominal fee of $79. We produce a eco-firendly pre-bid meeting that requires no travel and no time away from the office, get a legible copy of the sign in sheet and get a high quality audio/video copy of the webinar – an exact copy of what was presented – not just a transcript. The benefits reach far beyond what I’ve mentioned here. According to my business plan I should be a millionaire by now. What my prescise calculations did not factor in was the “mindset” challenge I would face with many people within the targeted public procurement community. I am targeting entities that do not have a solution readily available, are maybe too small to warrant a permanent solution or work in an environment that’s virtually broke and are not able to allocate resources for solutions that ultimately will lead to a more efficient and effective workplace and allow more people to work smarter. I have come up with an affordable, efficient and effective way for these government entities to make another contribution to their sustainability program, allow then to see far more vendors participate in their opportunities, support transparency and even play a part in their commitment to diversity – I am a smal, woman owned business,

The federal government has access to all kinds of “solutions” to provide for virtual pre-bid meetings. I would imagine they are used all the time. And there are many large state and local entities that have resources as well. But there are so many cities, counties, school districts, water districts, transportation agencies, airports, ports, etc. out there today that talk and write about their sustainability initiatives and agree that what we provide is valuable yet won’t take the step. I’ve done surveys of vendors from all areas that provide all types of services and there are none that would not prefer to participate via webinar when it is not a marketing opportunity. During the webinar we post all participants and their status, prime vs sub. That’s more than you get when you sit in an auditorium. Agencies have an easier time coordinating shedules since there is no travel necessary for meeting presenters. The time between release of the RFP and the time of the pre-bid can be cut since there isn’t a need to allow for travel arrangements. I could go on and on but I won’t bore you with what you already know.

I consider myself an environmental advocate that has taken a bold step and put my money where my mouth is. The pre-bids I’ve done have been extremely successful. One actually had to be postponed due to extreme illness on the part of the presenter. Think about how that would have been handled if people were traveling from other parts of the state or country. We moved it a few days and not one vendor complained or said a word. It was easy. Here’s how the Metropolitan Water District is highlighting us: .

I believe Green Proposals is a win-win for everyone. If anyone is still reading and is able to offer any comments I’d be very grateful. Thanks and make it a green day!!

Christina Morrison

Shelley — I believe you have an awesome idea. It seems like such a natural fit to go virtual with the pre-bid meeting. I have found that changing the mindset is a big mountain to climb in federal, state and local government. I am an advocate for Telework, and hear some of the same responses for people who are resistant to change. Changing the mindset is a a marathon not a sprint.