Given, the far reaching implications of Paris accord how do you see the sustainability landscape change in India?
The Paris accord was an important milestone for the global community. It is the first time all participating nations agreed on reducing emissions — called Paris agreement. The countries including India have committed “Intended nationally determined contributions”. The agreement will become binding once 55 member countries contributing 55% emissions ratify the agreement. Recently, it has been announced that India would aim to formally join the Paris climate agreement this year. It is a challenge for India as the country needs to ensure resources for high economic growth and tackle rapid urbanization, but at the same time reduce emissions. It is also an opportunity for sustainability business to thrive and develop into a major sector. Initiatives towards improving efficiencies will become important in every sector from agriculture to manufacturing to IT. Renewable energy sector is expected to see a major growth. Innovation will be the key to achieve more with less. The need of the hour is to have a collaborative effort from both businesses and policy makers in India to address the threat of climate change.
How does Infosys view sustainability?
At Infosys, sustainability has been a core business principle since the company’s inception. Infosys has always been at the forefront of the movement to chart an action plan for mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change. We were among very few companies globally to have taken up aggressive voluntary goals at the UN – to become carbon neutral, to reduce our per capita electricity consumption by 50% and to source 100% of our electricity from renewables – by 2018 (baseline year of 2008). We are on course to achieve these goals and believe that businesses need to delink growth from resource consumption by adopting sustainable practices. The company has experienced that sustainable designs and practices not only reduce resource consumption but also make sound business sense.
What are the focus areas for Infosys and what is the rationale for the choice?
The focus areas for Infosys are energy, water, waste and emissions, that directly impact human sustenance. We are a country where a large percentage of rural population doesn’t have access to power, clean water and sanitation. So, it is essential for us to limit our consumption and ensure availability of resources to others. On energy, we have seen that there is not only a huge operational costs but a big reduction in capital cost as well if efficiency interventions are done from the initial design stage. Water a precious resource and we are aware of the water crisis that gripped the country in summer. Infosys has therefore focused a lot on water conservation and harvesting measures across its campuses. The day is not far when availability of water will be one of the main criteria for setting up businesses even in the services sector. Waste management is an issue today that directly affects the health of the society and we want to take leadership and demonstrate viable technologies and processes for efficient waste management. Biogas plants have been installed in most of our campuses so that we can treat all the food waste generated.
What are the key successes areas of sustainability at Infosys?
We have achieved major reductions in energy and water use. Our per capita energy consumption has reduced by 49% from 2008 to 2016, and per capita water consumption has reduced by 41%. While our employee strength has increased by 130% in the last 8 years, our absolute energy consumption increased by just 18%, which means our operational costs have remained almost constant over the last 8 years. We have some of the most efficient buildings in the world, achieved with innovative technologies and frugal engineering and have been able to set new benchmarks for the industry for efficient buildings. The other big success story is our solar initiative. We have a total installed capacity of about 12 MW of solar power plants across our campuses in India. Our Hyderabad campus is the first IT campus in the country to be net zero with a total of 7 MW of installed solar power plant. 26% of our last year’s electricity was from renewables through green power purchase and our onsite solar power plants.
Why is the focus on sustainability relevant for a services company? What are the imperatives of sustainability in technology industry?
Services sector has the biggest contribution to Indian GDP (66% in FY16), with IT /ITES alone accounting for 10% of the Indian GDP. The tremendous growth of the Services sector over the last 15 years makes it all the more important that environmental sustainability should be part of the growth story. The growth of services sector increases urbanization and leads to huge addition of infrastructure including offices, retail, housing, etc. In the technology industry, there are great opportunities for sharing best practices among different companies and since the technology industry involves huge manpower, there is a great opportunity to influence the society at large.
At Infosys, in line with the nature of the work we do as a provider of next-generation services, we constantly innovate and strive towards creating and including new technologies, while investing in measures to renew our existing infrastructure. We believe, our initiatives are easily replicable on large scale across the world and have the ability to reduce resource consumption significantly. We also aspire to make sustainability and responsible citizenship a way of life for all Infoscions as they discover their passion to ‘Be More’.
In conversation with Mr. Ramadas Kamath, Executive Vice President and the Head of Infrastructure, Facilities, Administration, Security, and Sustainability at Infosys. (Original Post)