Forest fires, floods – climate change. It is becoming increasingly important to operate sustainably and to improve the ecological footprint.
Two out of three German companies with more than 100 employees are certain: Digital technologies play a crucial role in this. BREDEX GmbH also supports this approach. At the solution provider for holistic software development, data protection and information security, all signs point to sustainability. But what properties does software have to have in order to be considered sustainable? How do sustainability and digitization go together? Where are opportunities and risks? What does that have to do with IT security? What can companies already do today? Ron Kneffel, Head of BREDEX, provides answers and exciting insights into the topic of sustainable digitization.
Does climate change have a concrete impact on digital change?
Ron Kneffel: Yes, definitely. According to a study by the Bitkom Academy from January 2020, digital technology can contribute almost half to Germany meeting its climate targets by 2030. In addition, every fifth tonne of CO2 can be saved in the next few years through digitization.
How would you summarize “green IT” in a few sentences?
Ron Kneffel: Green IT is just one part of an overall sustainability strategy. Green IT is the endeavor to make the use of information and communication technology environmentally friendly and resource-friendly over its entire life cycle. In addition, it also means saving resources through the use of information technology, e.g. video conferences instead of expensive and CO2-heavy business trips.
Which aspects play into the sustainability of software?
Ron Kneffel: I speak of sustainable software when the software runs as resource-efficiently as possible. A screensaver, for example, can easily be installed here, which asks the user whether he is still using the application or whether he would like to close it if he has not used it for a few minutes. This is how you create user awareness.
Why does “GreenIT” only have a partial influence within sustainability strategies? Are there bigger influencing factors?
Ron Kneffel: First of all, you should know that there are three scopes in the calculation of the carbon footprint. Scope 1 are direct emissions from the organization’s operations, for example from company-owned power plants and vehicle fleets. Scope 2 are indirect emissions resulting from the generation of energy that is purchased from outside. So electricity and heat. And Scope 3 are indirect emissions that are caused by the company’s activities but are not under the company’s control, for example at suppliers, service providers, customers – including Green IT. Companies tend to look at Scope 1 and 2 because you can influence both yourself. We must ensure that indirect emissions from Scope 3 are also taken into account. Green IT plays a major role here. Few people know that end-user computing alone has a CO2 emission equivalent to 10 million cars. Corporate IT is responsible for approximately 2.5% of all global greenhouse emissions. We can start here.
Since when has sustainability been an issue for Bredex? Who was the impetus?
Ron Kneffel: There was no need for a direct impetus in the company. BREDEX has long anchored sustainability in its mission statement and lives by this value. It is part of our corporate strategy and our corporate culture. It is precisely for this reason that we have been complying with the German Sustainability Code since 2020. This shows the importance in the company, especially for the management.
What mission and goals does BREDEX pursue in the context of sustainability?
Ron Kneffel: The logical consequence is to become CO2-neutral and to harmonize all three aspects of sustainability (social, ecological and economic) in all areas of the company.
But it’s not just about climate neutrality in sustainability. We should consider ecological, economic and social aspects.
How is your company doing in terms of sustainability this year?
Ron Kneffel: We have already started to measure and calculate our carbon equivalence so that we can achieve our strategic goal of being carbon neutral. Accordingly, we will take measures to reduce and balance our footprint – in our way of working, in processes and structures, in IT or on the building. Be it the switch to green electricity or the installation of solar panels on the roof. We will then invest what is left over in climate certificates and offset these completely by the end of the year.
But it’s not just about climate neutrality in sustainability. We should consider ecological, economic and social aspects. As a company, we are responsible for all three and must balance them. The biggest challenge is to shape digitization and the response to climate change in a socially just manner.
How would you like to support other companies?
Ron Kneffel: We can support other companies by creating awareness for sustainability and green IT among customers. In the second step, we develop targeted products and services that correspond to sustainability, such as barrier-free UX design, social center design, modernization of existing software, agile working methods in development to save CO2 or outsourcing, i.e. operating software via a cloud. However, it is much more important to look at processes, structures and processed data in companies in order to see in which areas one can digitize and thus achieve climate and sustainability goals.
Besides software, are there other aspects of how digitization can be made sustainable? What about IT security, for example?
Ron Kneffel: Many are wondering what IT security has to do with climate change. Here you have to take a look at the risk potential. Because climate and weather-related IT failures are affecting more and more companies and cost them US$ 210 billion last year, according to a report from January 2022. So far, the effects of climate change such as floods or forest fires coupled with suddenly vulnerable data centers have hardly been considered. But the probability of occurrence changes. And that now needs to be considered in IT risk management. Business continuity management must consider that climate change will have a strong impact on IT security. Because the probability of occurrence of climate-related extreme weather events will change significantly.
Do you have any tips on what IT security companies should look out for when it comes to climate change?
Ron Kneffel: First, you should look at business continuity management and resilience management. What major impacts can hit my processes and what do I have to do to keep my core processes going? Second, what do I have to do to be able to get my core processes up and running again 100 percent after the impact? It is important to make plans in advance.
Are there incentive systems for companies to make their IT infrastructure more sustainable?
Ron Kneffel: Of course, rising CO2 costs are a factor here. But society is also demanding that companies provide answers to sustainable digitization with regard to climate neutrality. And of course it is also an image issue for customers and applicants, who are increasingly paying attention to sustainability and responsibility.
Are there already certifications and regulations that companies can look out for when looking for sustainable partners?
Ron Kneffel: There are several certifications such as ISO14001, preferably in combination with ISO9001, as well as seals such as the Blue Angel and the Climate Partner seal, which you can already find on many products in the supermarket. They show that the issues of sustainability and climate are taken seriously.
Mr. Kneffel, thank you for the interview.