The H&M group believes firmly in green IT: environmentally sound computing practices that are in line with our overall sustainability strategy. Hence the launch in 2012 of our Double Sales – Half Impact initiative: a five-year sustainability drive designed to secure the solid growth of an environmentally-friendly IT organisation.
Between 2012 and 2017, the number of H&M group retail outlets has grown by a phenomenal 75 per cent, and the aim has been to double our sales revenue within that period. Given the additional computer hardware required for this string of new stores, how could it ever be possible to halve the environmental impact of our IT operation? Well, the following elements have been key to our success:
- leadership and support from the management
- communication and training (for employees and suppliers)
- engagement (in strategic projects run by a Green IT professional)
- the right competence (internal and external communications and training initiatives)
- a budget for Green IT development, communication, support and follow-up work
- clear, measurable goals
- governing documents (for the H&M group’s IT frame agreement and internal strategic projects)
What is the scope of the project?
Limiting the scope of the initiative to office applications, in-store checkout and IT systems, servers and data centres, the focus has been on several key environmental considerations, all of which can be influenced relatively easily:
- energy use resulting from power consumption by IT systems
- the hazardous substances found in the hardware purchased and used by the organisation
- the use of computer resources
- the way we deal with hardware once it has been used
Which measures have been taken?
A number of specific action points have been addressed in this project, namely: the purchase of more environmentally friendly hardware; the use of more effective energy-saving functionalities; the virtualization of our servers; the boosted efficiency of our data centres; and a reduction in the use of paper.
What are the results of the initiative?
At the beginning of 2012 energy use through the running of IT systems grew in line with the expansion of the company, as did the amount of waste generated through computer equipment no longer in use.
Since then, however, we have demonstrated that decoupling is possible, even in a period of substantial growth. Although we did not quite manage to halve our environmental impact in five years regarding energy consumption, with one year delay we surpassed the goal by far. Overall, we came extremely close. For example, there was a 48 percent reduction in energy use. There has been a capacity boost enabled by the use of solar panelling at our data centers and the reuse of the worn outs generated. Energy savings of a good 27 million kWh have been made during the five-year period: the equivalent of 10.9 million kilogrammes of CO2and fuel savings of EUR 4 million.
There has also been a 45 percent reduction in the presence of hazardous substances in our IT systems.
We have a way to go in terms of the efficient use of computer resources (with a relatively modest 20 percent reduction over the five-year period), but here a well-designed decoupling plan has clearly borne results.
What does the future hold?
Looking ahead, by 2019 H&M is expected to have 5,000 stores worldwide, which represents a growth rate of more than100 per cent compared with 2012. Despite this, power consumption is expected to have decreased by 70 percent during the same period, which amounts to energy savings of 16 million kWh per year.
We’re happy that despite a very ambitious plan, everything turned out well.