Symantec was founded in 1982 and the company has become one of the world’s largest software companies with more than 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries. Symantec provides security, storage and systems management solutions to individual consumers, small businesses and the largest global organisations, helping them to secure and manage their information-driven world against risks.
Symantec started its first Green IT initiative in 2006 and has sought to continually improve its approach since then. In 2010, the company led The Green Grid’s internal task force on Global Harmonisation to help established Global Metrics to be used to guide decisions and actions and reduce the energy costs associated with data centres.
Context of the initiative:
Symantec is recognised on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the FTSE4Good, and the Corporate Responsibility Officer 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. The company advanced in the Fortune Most Admired Companies ranking, moving from number eight to number four in the computer software industry category.
Environmental stewardship is an integral part of Symantec's business strategy which includes strong initiatives in terms of carbon reduction through three main targets: people, buildings and data centres.
Overview of the initiative:
When Symantec started to work on Green IT in 2006, it set up internal awareness and energy management programmes to reduce energy costs as well as CO2 emissions. Since then, the company’s IT department has continued to drive energy efficiency initiatives across all of its data centres by using IT and green building techniques to optimise its performance.
Symantec recently took the leadership role in The Green Grid, an international consortium of companies and professionals working to improve energy efficiency in data centres and business computing ecosystems. In 2010, Symantec led the taskforce, including representatives from the United States, the European Union, and Japan, which reached agreement and finalised measurement protocols for an important data centre infrastructure energy efficiency metric - Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) - in February 2011.
In 2011, Symantec's Director of Data Center Architecture, Strategy, and Innovation received "The Green Grid Key Contributor Award" and joined The Green Grid Board of Directors.
Issues and challenges:
The main challenge of the whole carbon strategy has been to be able to measure and provide relevant data (relative instead of absolute) to show the improvement in terms of cost and C02 emissions, especially as the carbon footprint is related to the level of business activity and the way in which facilities are managed.
Symantec is now outsourcing the management of its data centres and has transferred many applications to the Cloud meaning that the carbon emissions are now considered as scope 3 since the company has less direct control over its emissions. The challenge is thus one of engaging its suppliers in sustainability, carbon emissions management and transparent reporting.
Why did Article 13 select this initiative?
Data centres have become a critical issue in our modern society as we all try to reduce our paper use. These facilities require significant amounts of energy to power equipment and maintain strict temperatures, security, and backup controls.
Symantec is gaining recognition as a Green IT research leader – an area which is set to increase in importance.
© Article 13 – CSR Case Study Series, April 2012
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