Vodacom gets ‘green’ innovation centre

28 June 2011

Work is under way on building one of Africa’s greenest buildings as Vodacom and its parent company Vodafone plan an alternative energy innovation centre to help reduce carbon emissions across the world.

Once completed, the Midrand, Johannesburg-based innovation centre will house a team of experts tasked with developing energy efficient technology to counter environmental challenges.

The Vodafone Innovation Centre, which will serve all of Vodafone’s global markets, is expected to be completed in the latter part of the 2011. The innovations developed in South Africa will be rolled out across markets to benefit the entire Vodafone group.

“The innovation centre will be one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the entire Vodafone group, powered with renewable energy using cooling and heating technologies,” Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said at the launch of the building in Midrand last week. “We are working with the Green Building Council of South Africa to ensure the building is accredited according to the Green Star rating system.”

Climate benefits, cost savings

In emerging markets, diesel generators are often used to provide energy to base stations that are off the electricity grid, so more efficient energy solutions can play a key role in reducing carbon emissions from such power sources.

According to Vodacom, considerable climate benefits and cost savings can be achieved by creating technology that runs on renewable energy.

“Building sustainable, environmentally focused systems and infrastructure is critical in the current economic and environmental climate,” said Uys. “Not only will the innovation centre help to deliver energy savings across the Vodafone group, but it will also save us money.

“Business can no longer look at sustainability as a nice-to-have element of operations – it is a critical aspect of our business strategy that adds enormous value to the bottom-line.”

Driving efficiency

The Smart 2020 report stated: “Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age”, published by independent non-profit The Climate Group and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), suggests that global ICT companies could apply their technology to help other industries and consumers mitigate 7.8 gigatons of CO2 emissions by 2020 or 15% of the current global emissions.

“The innovation centre is a critical component in our global strategy to create mobile technology that impacts the environment in a positive way,” said Uys. “If we are able to aggressively drive efficiency and cost reductions in this area, we can pass these reductions on to our customers, a core component of this strategy.”

SAinfo reporter

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