Technology for Good – episode thirty three with Jon Collins

Welcome to episode thirty three of the Technology for Good hangout. In this week’s episode our guest was Jon Collins. I’ve known Jon for quite some time online and met him for the first time at out ThingMonk conference last year. In honour of that, I wore my ThingMonk t-shirt for the show!

Some of the more fascinating stories we looked at on the show, included Glasgow University becoming the first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels, partnering with Google, and Microsoft to help 100M students learn computer science, and Susan Scrupski’s new venture, Big Mountain Data using Big Data to tackle the problem of domestic violence.

Here is the full list of stories that we covered in this week’s show:






Smart Cities






Women in Tech


Technology for Good – episode thirty two with SAP’s Sameer Patel

Welcome to episode thirty two of the Technology for Good hangout. In this week’s episode we had SAP‘s Sameer Patel as the guest on our show. Sameer and I are members of the Enterprise Irregulars group – a loose group of analysts and vendors with an interest in enterprise software. Previous Enterprise Irregulars who have guested on the show include David Terrar, Craig Cmehil, and Jon Reed.

There was a problem which wasn’t apparent to us during the show and that was that the video from my side never showed up in the recording. I suspect that’s because I was using a beta version of Chrome, but anyway, the audio, and Sameer’s video feed was recorded, so all’s well.

This week we didn’t get through all the stories we had lined up, ‘cos we had such a good discussion around the ones we did manage to fit in!

Some of the more fascinating stories we looked at on the show, included the growing number of technology companies who are abandoning ALEC, IBM’s new concentrating solar array which can create clean water, as well as solar power, and a new smartphone app which will help visually challenged users to read.

Here is the full list of stories that we covered in this week’s show:






Data Centres








Autodesk’s Farnborough office going for LEED certification

Autodesk UK recently moved offices to a facility in Farnborough. In their previous offices, they had occupied several floors, so they set out to find offices where all their staff could be on the same floor, and yet have plenty off access to light. Also, they wanted to drastically reduce their footprint, so they to great care to make the office as green as possible (given that it was a retrofit, not a new build) and they have applied for LEED Gold certification for the office.

I visited with Autodesk in Farnborough last week and I was extremely impressed with the steps they have taken, as well as with the pride Autodesk rightfully show for the ongoing benefits of this project.

Some of the highlights:
The construction
94% construction waste recycled/ diverted from landfill
All energy/water consumption measured and monitored on site
The site was registered with the Considerate Constructors Scheme and achieved a score of 34 (85%)

Low energy lighting in Autodesk UK office

Low energy lighting in Autodesk UK office

High percentage of FSC timber sourced
All new furniture contains high % recycled/recyclable content. Re-used old furniture items where possible and ensured all unused items were diverted from landfill (e.g. donated to charity)
All paints, sealants and adhesives have been sourced with a low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content, to minimise chemicals and maximise occupant well-being
Selected new materials with high recycled content
A high proportion of new materials have been manufactured within 500 miles

Secure bicycle racks, lockers, shower and changing facilities are provided for cyclists
10% of parking spaces are allocated to car sharers
Water consumption has been reduced by at least 20% through the installation of water efficient taps, shower fittings, WC’s and urinals.
Occupancy sensors have been installed on the lights for more than 90% of the lighting load and daylight controls on more than 50% – meaning that lights are not left on or are lighting areas unnecessarily.
Air conditioning equipment has been zoned in order to provide control to suit requirements for solar exposure and ensuring employee comfort
Recycling facilities have been built into the layout to ensure recycling wherever possible
All new electrical appliances are Energy Star rated
Desks have been located to try and maximise natural daylight and external views

The company also has a 6 seater TelePresence suite to reduce the amount of business travel it’s employees need to do. And Autodesk facilitates employees who wish to work from home – so much so that around 50% of their staff take advantage of this – reducing Autodesk’s property footprint, and the number of commute miles its workers undertake.

Autodesk’s Singapore office was awarded LEED Platinum certification earlier this year – with any luck when I’m in Singapore in November I’ll get a chance to check it out!

Full disclosure – Autodesk is not a GreenMonk client and the trip to visit AutoDesk’s Farnborough facilities was undertaken entirely at GreenMonk’s expense.

Image credit Tom Raftery


Why can’t we have energy labels for all electronic devices?

Energy rating

I moved to Spain recently. Setting up a new home in a new country meant a lot of new purchases. I bought CFL (and some LCD) bulbs for lighting. That was easy.

However, when it came to other purchases, things were far from clear.

I wanted a Blu-Ray DVD player and a decent TV but how do I get information on the energy efficiency of these devices to compare them?

The Sony BDP-S300 Blu-Ray DVD player product page has no information whatsoever on the power requirements of the device (and that is one of the only reasonably good Blu-Ray players easily available here, for now).

Similarly with the TV. I know plasma screens use far more energy than LCD so I wanted an LCD but there is no site which allows you to compare the energy usage of different TVs (or DVD players, or computers, or printers or…) in the same way that the ActOnCO2 site does for cars, for instance.

What I really want though, and I suspect I am not alone in this, is clear certified energy labels on all electrical items, similar to the ones on the light bulb packaging above.

We already have energy labels for most white goods, light bulb packaging and cars in the EU, it should be possible to extend this to cover all electrical products. I understand that it is not straightforward but it would be incredibly useful for consumers and would reward responsible manufacturers.

So, why can’t we have standardised, energy labels for all electronic devices?