Swisscom has a long tradition of its commitment to the environment and to society. As far back as 1998, it introduced an environmental management system and had it certified by an external body.
Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger recently said that we need to reduce our CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020, as the previous figure of 20 to avert a climate collapse.
Swisscom is Switzerland’s leading telecoms company and one of the industry’s biggest consumers of electricity. Fabian Etter, Head of Corporate R% would not be enough esponsibility at Swisscom, spoke with Swiss Style about ways of saving electricity and CO2, customer needs and environmentally friendly products.
Swiss Style: Swisscom is one of the biggest consumers of electricity in the industry. What are you doing to change that?
Fabian Etter: Our industry has a great deal of potential when it comes to cutting CO2 emissions: up to 15% of all CO2 emissions worldwide could be saved through the use of new information and communications technologies. That equates to 7.8 billion tons of CO2 – or the emissions from three million cars!
Swisscom is implementing a range of measures in order to make efficient use of electricity, vehicle and heating fuel, and waste. For example, we are converting our vehicle fleet to gas and hybrid models. Swisscom also obtains 100% of its electricity requirements from domestically produced energy from renewable sources and we purchase more electricity from solar and wind power than any other company in Switzerland.
SS: Can you quantify your targets?
FE: Of course, our targets are publicly known. In an initial step, we agreed with the Energy Agency for Industry that we would reduce our CO2 emissions by 17% and increase our energy efficiency by 17% between 2002 and 2010.
We also help our customers save energy and reduce their CO2 emissions by offering them environmentally-friendly products and services.
SS: What exactly is an environmentally friendly product?
FE: For example, we sell Ecomode Plus cordless phones which emit minimal radiation and save electricity. Ecomode Plus phones use 60% less power than conventional cordless phones and the product seems to be meeting a customer need.
Since its launch in 2008, we have achieved a 40% market share. This figure suggests that more and more people are beginning to understand the magnitude of environmental problems and climate change and are trying to do something about it.
SS: And what about environmentally friendly services?
FE: We offer our customers online billing, for example. This means they no longer receive a paper bill, can access their details around the clock and are doing their bit for the environment by helping to reduce paper consumption.
We also offer business customers environmentally friendly services, such as videoconferencing and teleworking, which reduce the need to travel.
SS: Swiss people buy a new mobile phone every 18 months on average. How are you tackling the problem of old mobile phones?
FE: We are trying to reduce the number of mobile phones that are thrown away. In order to make a product more ecological, you either have to save energy when producing it or extend its useful life.
We set up the “Solidarcomm” project to tackle the second point. Our customers can hand in their old mobile phones at a Swisscom Shop and give them a new lease of life on the international second-hand market. All the proceeds from the resale go to Terre des Hommes Switzerland. We dispose of defective phones in an environmentally friendly manner in Switzerland.
SS: Swisscom is supporting Bertrand Piccard’s “Solar Impulse” project. How does that benefit Swisscom?
FE: Bertrand Piccard’s aim is to stay up in the air day and night using only solar power. That means he only has twelve hours of daylight and will have to store the energy required to travel at night-time. If he is successful, this will be an incredibly strong symbol of “Made in Switzerland” which shows that there are alternative solutions – which just goes to show that new approaches are possible and it is worth having the courage to explore new territory…
Mistral: Massive lowering of energy consumption
With its Mistral project Swisscom is considered an environmental pioneer in the sector. Mistral introduces outside air into the room via openings in the façade. The warm air is drawn off directly over the equipment and then removed outside via exhaust fans. As a result, the conventional, energy-intense cooling systems with compressors and environmentally harmful refrigerants can be eliminated and energy consumption for cooling can be reduced by 90%.
A simple solution with great implications at the same time, which also earned international recognition (InfoVision Award 2008, Orbit Green IT Innovation Award 2009).
Article by Jules Landon