"Business Breakfast: Digitalisation & Sustainability" 12th February 2019


‘Digitalisation and Sustainability co-hosted by The Future Economy Network and Buro Happold.


On Tuesday 12th Feb 2019, The Future Economy Network hosted a business breakfast entitled ‘Digitalisation and Sustainability’. The networking event took place at subscribers, Buro Happold’s city centre offices in Bath and attracted both large and small firms from the IT, engineering, media and sustainability world.


Director of The Future Economy Network, Katherine Piper opened the event, highlighting the benefits of subscribing to the Network, sharing exciting news about The Future Economy Group’s move to their new sustainability hub, advising of their upcoming Festival of Sustainable Business and introducing new member of the team, Richard Murphy (Director of Recruitment).

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This was followed by welcoming Ian Brooks, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable IT at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol.  Ian spoke about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in relation to IT. He highlighted UWE’s commitment to the SDGs within their learning and operations, citing various examples. Ian went on to stress the strong investment case for the SDGs within business for example, funding opportunities via the Global Challenges Research Fund which are looking specifically for SDG-aligned businesses. He advised the business audience to think widely around how their organisation delivers both positively and negatively on the SDGs as this will aid forward planning.

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We then welcomed Dorothy Stein, IT Manager at Greengage IT. Subscribers, Greengage IT are one of very few companies which focuses on the sustainability of IT, helping other companies to reduce energy, carbon emissions and costs from their IT, and improve their performance. Dorothy opened by stressing the urgency of actions required given the recent IPCC report. She explained that a variety of sustainability impacts need to be considered within the IT industry; the IT sector consumes 10% of global electricity and this is on the increase, working conditions are a major concern, the use of conflict minerals within our IT equipment needs to be addressed alongside the safe disposal of WEEE products. She cited the huge data centres powering cloud-based systems, most coming via Virginia’s ‘Data Centre Alley’ which has only 3% of its energy from renewables! Dorothy highlighted that companies can have their websites hosted on 100% renewable energy; something about which Greengage IT would be able to offer advice.

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 Finally, we welcomed Shaun Farrell and Tristan Gerrish from Buro Happold Engineering. They spoke about how Buro Happold has aligned its operations with the SDGs and went on to discuss the Gartner Hype Cycle regarding the application of technologies and suggested that we may need to re-think how we do engineering. The digitalisation of certain processes for example, have freed up time for engineers to do engineering work as opposed to their time previously being spent information gathering and carrying out administrative duties etc. They also highlighted the benefits of using a ‘Digital Twin’ and stressed the importance of bringing people and culture with you as systems advance.

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The event ended with a delicious breakfast courtesy of our hosts Buro Happold and some lively networking! We would like to offer sincere thanks to all of our speakers and to Network subscribers, Buro Happold for co-hosting the event. Also, a huge thank you to all attendees – we hope you found it an interesting event and came away with some useful insights/collaborations.

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The Future Economy Network look forward to seeing you at another event soon!