Work is underway on building one of Africa’s greenest buildings as Vodacom and its parent company Vodafone plan an alternative energy innovation centre to help reduce carbon emissions across the world.
Once completed, the Midrand-based innovation centre will house a team of experts tasked with developing energy efficient technology to counter some of South Africa’s, and the planet’s greatest environmental challenges.
In emerging markets, diesel generators are often used to provide energy to base stations that are off the electricity grid, so more efficient energy solutions can play a key role in reducing carbon emissions from such power sources. The innovations developed in South Africa will also be rolled out across developed markets to benefit the entire Vodafone group.
Speaking at a media introduction to the innovation centre, Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys underpinned the importance of the building’s green credentials and its role in enabling a low carbon future.
“The innovation centre will be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the entire Vodafone group, powered with renewable energy using cooling and heating technologies. We are working with the Green Building Council of South Africa to ensure the building is accredited according to the Green Star rating system,” says Uys.
According to Vodacom, considerable climate benefits and cost savings can be achieved by creating technology that runs on renewable energy.
“Building sustainable, environmentally focused systems and infrastructure is critical in the current economic and environmental climate. Not only will the innovation centre help to deliver energy savings across the Vodafone group, but it will also save us money. Business can no longer look at sustainability as a nice-to-have element of operations – it is a critical aspect of our business strategy that adds enormous value to the bottom-line,” says Uys.
The Smart 2020 report, ‘Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age’ published by independent non-profit The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) suggests that global ICT companies could apply their technology to help other industries and consumers mitigate 7.8 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions by 2020 or 15% of the current global emissions.
“The innovation centre is a critical component in our global strategy to create mobile technology that impacts the environment in a positive way. If we are able to aggressively drive efficiency and cost reductions in this area, we can pass these reductions on to our customers, a core component of this strategy,” adds Uys.
The Vodafone Innovation Centre, which will serve all of Vodafone’s global markets, is expected to be completed in the latter part of 2011.
“COP17, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is just around the corner and it is these types of initiatives that make an impact on the sustainability of our planet,” Uys says.
Although this is one of Vodacom’s more ambitious environmental projects, the mobile telecoms leader is no stranger to sustainability or instigating initiatives that care for the environment. The company recently took part in the Carbon Disclosure Project and was ranked joint 6th position out of 74 JSE listed companies in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI), which places it as the leading ICT company in terms of the CDP ranking.