From niche to necessity: Sustainability engineering goes mainstream | HCLTech

From niche to necessity: Sustainability engineering goes mainstream

Increased compliance pressure and significant potential benefits have prompted businesses to adopt sustainable engineering practices
8 minutes read
Mousume Roy
Mousume Roy
APAC Reporter, HCLTech
8 minutes read
From niche to necessity: Sustainability engineering goes mainstream

Climate change concerns and a growing environmental consciousness have thrust sustainability engineering into the spotlight. This discipline focuses on integrating environmental considerations into the design and operation of systems. It’s gaining prominence as businesses aim to align profitability with environmental responsibility. 

Heightened awareness of environmental issues has prompted businesses to reassess their operations and adopt more sustainable practices. Pressure from consumers, investors and regulators to address these concerns has accelerated the adoption of sustainability engineering principles.

The recently released HCLTech Trends 2024 report highlights the necessity for continued innovation, collaboration and policy support in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The potential benefits are substantial — a healthier planet, a more resilient society and a brighter future for generations to come. The report emphasizes the urgency for industries to balance between current needs and future requirements while emphasizing long-term social viability and cost savings.

Advancements in technology have made it increasingly feasible and cost-effective to implement sustainable solutions. Innovations in renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management and data analytics offer businesses new opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint while enhancing operational efficiency and competitiveness.

Recent trends in sustainability engineering

Global initiatives such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2015 Paris Agreement have created a framework for collective action on sustainability. Businesses are aligning their strategies with these goals, driving demand for sustainability engineering expertise and solutions. 

Moreover, current trends show a growing recognition among businesses of the importance of aligning business strategies with global sustainability initiatives. From renewable energy adoption to supply chain transparency, companies are increasingly integrating sustainability principles into their operations to meet evolving consumer expectations and regulatory requirements.

Circular economy integration: Businesses are increasingly adopting circular economy principles aiming to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. This involves designing products for durability, reuse and recycling, thereby reducing environmental impact throughout the product lifecycle. Companies are also exploring innovative business models such as product-as-a-service and sharing platforms to extend product life and promote resource conservation.

In a recent podcast, Santhosh Jayaram, Global head, Sustainability at HCLTech discussed the importance of sustainable product design development, focused on the environmental, social and economic impact at each stage of the product life cycle.

 “Companies have started incorporating sustainability principles right at the product design stage itself as almost 80% of the impact of a product is decided at the design stage, and hence it is a significant stage to create a sustainable product,” Jayaram said.

Renewable energy adoption: With the declining costs of power from renewable energy sources like solar and wind, many companies are transitioning to clean energy. This not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also offers long-term cost savings and enhances brand reputation.

However, investment in battery storage capabilities must be increased to match the growth of renewable energy. To harness and store green energy more effectively, innovation in the field needs to be prioritized. An example of this in action: Innovatium, a Glasgow-based tech firm focused on reducing the carbon impact of industrial processes, recently announced that it had secured almost £1 million to enhance its new liquid air battery technology.

Some businesses are investing in on-site renewable energy generation, while others are entering power purchase agreements with renewable energy developers to secure a stable and sustainable energy supply.

Sustainable supply chain: Consumers are demanding greater transparency and accountability from companies regarding their supply chains. Sustainability engineering involves assessing and improving the environmental and social impacts of supply chains, ensuring responsible sourcing and production practices.

Companies leverage technologies such as blockchain and satellite imagery to track and trace raw materials from source to final product, enabling greater visibility and accountability across the supply chain.

HCLTech has integrated sustainability principles into its supply chain management processes, fostering responsible sourcing practices and promoting ethical labor standards among its suppliers. Through collaboration and transparency, the company works with suppliers to minimize environmental impacts and drive positive social outcomes across the value chain.

At HCLTech, sustainable sourcing means more than just procuring materials, products and services in a socially and environmentally responsible way. It also means driving positive change across the supply chain, suppliers, partners and other stakeholders.

The company offers a range of solutions and proof of conceptson utilizing SAP products such as Ariba and Fieldglass to harness the data available from other third-party data providers to deliver processes that foster sustainable sourcing practices.

The rise of Green IT

In 2021, the worldwide waste in electrical and electronic components summed 57.4 million tonnes. This figure is vastly more significant than the Great Wall of China, the world’s heaviest artificial product in China.

“Green IT is not just about reducing carbon footprints, it is a strategic ascent driven by the recognition that technology, when wielded sustainably, becomes a powerful force for environmental stewardship and strategic innovation,” said Jayaram. 

Green IT initiatives include measures such as virtualization, which consolidates servers and storage systems to improve efficiency and reduce energy usage. Additionally, energy-efficient hardware, such as low-power servers and desktops, and smart cooling systems help to lower energy consumption in data centers. 

Recently, HCLTech announced its collaboration with Schneider Electric to develop carbon-efficient solutions for data centers in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, exemplifying a strategic partnership aimed at advancing the goals of decarbonization.

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HCLTech’s sustainability practice

Companies face many environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges such as transitioning to a low-carbon economy, pivoting to circular, transparent supply chain and infusing human rights, inclusion and diversity throughout their organizations. HCLTech is prioritizing a sustainability mindset throughout the organization to help enterprises operate not only sustainably but also unleash the full potential of era's most powerful engine of change.

From using technology to create materiality-based solutions, reengineer processes and redesign operating models to help clients achieve their sustainability goals, HCLTech has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability through its comprehensive approach to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

For example, a leading UK-based multinational bank has taken a significant step toward transitioning to a more sustainable future. To enable their vision of mitigating climate risk, HCLTech helped the client implement a Climate Risk Assessment (CRA) application for corporate lending– to enable better climate risk management, which is an emerging area for the bank.

HCLTech's sustainability efforts extend beyond internal operations and client engagements to encompass community outreach through HCL Foundation in India and its CSR Councils worldwide and employee engagement programs such as Power of One. The company leverages its technology expertise and resources to address social and environmental challenges, empowering communities and driving positive change.

With data supporting the financial and societal benefits of sustainability, coupled with inspiring case studies, the imperative for businesses to prioritize sustainability engineering has never been clearer. Integrating sustainability into their core strategies will be essential for building resilient, future-proof businesses that thrive in harmony with the planet and society.

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