Green credentials / Onega Environmental Policy

Onega aim to be as green and environmentally friendly as practically possible. Thus we take take sustainability and the environment seriously in our efforts to reflect our green ethics.

We plan to get certified to EN/ISO 14001 which is the definitive international standard for environment management systems (being green in an organisational context) - right now as of September 2019 we embody many of the best practices attached to this but have a bit of a job to do in documenting it all.

What do we do?

The Onega Office - Our offices are based in Container City in London’s Docklands, which is a building constructed from recycled shipping containers:

Onega’s office is on the top floor of the groundbreaking Container City Building.
image credit and thanks to Cmglee.

Being power efficient: We aim to be efficient in our use of electricity and to encourage others to do the same. Thus 100% our office lighting has been by LED since 2015, and we meter and monitor power to optimise use.

Printing - We make use of environmentally friendly printers, like the Kyocera ECOSYS range, and refillable tank inkjet printers. We also print onto exclusively sustainable sourced and recycled papers.

Recycling - We recycle our print toner cartridges, plastics and cardboard / paper (which is also securely shredded). If we can reuse packaging materials we do so (reuse is the best form of recycling). We also help to recycle and find reuse for our own and for client computer equipment which is surplus to client requirements or at end of commercial life (after secure data wiping to military standards where appropriate).

Solar Power - In 2013 Onega installed our own 7KW Solar panel array on the roof of our office building. This links to the mains power and has provided up to 95% of our overall electricity requirements on the sunniest of days. As of October 2019 the system has produced nearly 3 Megawatt Hours of electricity overall. A bonus of installing the solar panels was also that in summer - by absorbing the power of the sun that would otherwise be heating our root, they also reduce the temperature in the office so that our air conditioning system does not have to work as hard as it otherwise would.

Onega’s Solar Panels on the roof of Container City Building (green highlight area).

Green Power - The excess of electricity needs we have are served from the grid and sourced from Green Energy UK who (you guessed it) supply 100% renewable power. We can recommend them as a nice bunch to deal with if you would also like to go green for power.

Heating - For greatest efficiency Heat pumps instead of heaters. In the ideal world we’d use entirely passive heating and cooling but in the current real world the office can need heat in winter and cooling in summer. By using heat pumps instead of traditional heaters (we used to have those and still have one though it’s not been used in years), power consumption is more than halved because no heat is created, it is only moved.

Smart Office - Being an IT company, we have also deployed some of the IOT (Internet of Things) smart devices. Thus we have smart cloud controlled aircon and smart plugs for devices like our coffee machine to allow for automatic device power off.

Sustainable Transport Policy - We encourage the use of public transport whenever appropriate and encourage the use of bicycles and other carbon neutral forms of transport where possible.

Some of our hints for your own organisation’s IT systems are below here:

How you can help and make your IT Green (which also saves you money as a bonus):

1) Turn your computer off at night

This one simple measure - shutting down your computer at the end of the day and turning off your minitors - will save you approximately £50 per PC per year, as well as the associated heat that it would otherwise produce.

2) Use Renewable Energy

Did you know that you can actually sign up with companies such as Ecotricity to supply your business with wholly renewable electricity from sources such as wind, solar, and tidal sources of power generation? It does cost slightly more than traditional mains electricity (which comes primarily from Nuclear, Oil, Gas & Coal fired power stations), but you get to be part of the transition to renewable sources. As the cost of oil inevitably increases over time as reserves dwindle, the difference in cost of renewable vs traditional energy sources will narrow.

All of Onega's electricity at out Container City Offices at Trinity Buoy Wharf comes from renewable power sources.

3) Make use of energy saving features in what you have

Many Desktops & Laptops have features built in which allow you to reduce power consumption when a computer is idle. For example in turning off monitors and hard disks after a period of inactivity (eg 15 minutes?). If you use a laptop, then carefully tuning these parameters will also make your batteries last longer when out on the road.

Parameters that can be tuned, and recommended sensible defaults include:

- CPU Power - Many computers allow you to choose between maximum performance and least power consumption. Depending on your style of use you should set this to the performance setting that allows the machine to keep up with your pace of work - if you are a power user (eg consistantly do complex calculations on large spreadsheets) then you may need maximum performance, but if you primarily use your computer for word processing & email then a lower setting whould suffuce.

- Hard Drive - you can set an idle timeout after which the disks stop spinning & hence save both mechanical wear & power consumption. The disks only take an instant to start up again when needed, so this is worth configuring. We would typically set this to 15-30 minutes on a laptop. You need to avoid making the timeout too short as this would cause your computer to constantly stop & start the motors, which may be counterproductive.

- Display - Laptop & TFT displays can be set to optimum levels of brightness - again the display needs to be bright enough to read confortably, but no more than needs be. The higher the display brightness, the more power the display consumes, and the less time batteries will last in a laptop. There is also a setting in windows to turn off monitors entirely after a period.

- System Standby / Suspend - You can set your entire computer to shut off when not needed / after a period of inactivity. Laptops also have two sets of option - one for when you are running from mains power, and another for when you are on batteries. For example, when running from batteries, having your computer suspend after fifteen to thirty minutes of being idle (if you've not used the mouse or pressed a key) could save valuable battery life for when it is needed.

4) Kill-o-Watt

Just knowing how much power a given device consumes is a good step in the right direction. For roughly £10 you can buy a plug in power meter which will tell you how much power each device consumes. For £20 that can be a smart plug to allow remote turn on and off of devices as well (or to schedule). If you compare the consumption of devices like traditional CRT based monitors and newer flat panel TFTs, then you'll see that there is a considerable difference between the two - in fact if you still have any CRTs we would urge you to replace them on the grounds of energy savings alone - the TFTs will probably pay for themselves in under a year, as well as taking less desk space & being easier on the eye!

5) Consider electrical consumption when choosing hardware & systems

The price of wholesale electricity has increased greatly in recent years, such that is now roughly four times what it was just three years ago. If you are equipping an office with large numbers of workstations, or putting in servers which will be running 24/7/365, then considering how much power a system consumes is a vital part of systems selection, alongside the more traditionally considered factors of reliability & performance. Some manufacturers are better than others in this respect, and vendors such as Fujitsu & HP often beat the likes of Dell hands down. A single high powered server may consume as much as £100 of electricity every month, which soon makes any small savings in initial capital cost pale into insignificance.

6) Recycle

You probably already recycle the paper & packaging in your office, but you can also recycle your toner & inkject cartridges. If you go through a reasonable number of cartridges, then you could get a bin from Environmental Business Products and support a charity as well - for each cartridge recycled, they make a donation to your nominated charity. Onega operate the toner recycling scheme at Trinity Buoy Wharf, in aid of the Woodland Trust. As part of our service to clients, we help to recycle equiment when it has come to the end of economic life - ideally finding reuse or else environmentally friendly recycling after secure data wiping first.