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Thinking SMARTer - Virgin Media’s carbon action plan

10 December 2013

Thinking SMARTer - Virgin Media’s carbon action plan

In 2013 we’ve been focusing on new ways to improve our energy efficiency - the energy we use to power our operations and network is our biggest source of carbon emissions. We’re continually looking for ways to better manage and reduce our environmental impacts - Richard Cliff, our Head of Energy & Environmental Performance provides us with an update.

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Richard Cliff

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Back in 2010 we set ourselves a long-term 2015 target to reduce our gross carbon emissions by 15% against our 2007 baseline.  Although we’ve made  some progress towards this target our business continues to grow making it increasingly difficult to make significant reductions to our gross carbon emissions.

With this in mind, our priority for 2013 has been to focus on creating a carbon action plan to help us tackle our energy consumption and carbon emissions going forward – a plan that will stand up, as much as possible, with the growth of our business.

We kicked off activities in this space by doing an in-depth mapping exercise of our energy consumption and carbon emissions across our business. Identifying energy hotspots in our operations meant that we could work out how best to optimise performance across our network and evaluate which sites would benefit from energy performance contracts.

Working together with our energy management partner, Matrix, we’ve optimised our heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems across 10 sites which has saved us 8.6 gigawatt hours of electricity to date. We’ve also introduced a technical room optimisation project in several of our data centres to improve air flow and reduce energy consumption related to close controlled air conditioning by 20 - 30%.

Across the business we have a number of smaller projects on the go which aim to identify and replace redundant equipment in key technical sites, optimising airflow, improving server performance and reducing energy consumption. The impact of these projects vary from site to site but we’ve managed to recover, reuse and recycle over 42,160 items to date including inefficient head-end and technical equipment.

When it comes to our fleet, we are continually looking for ways to improve performance and we are proud to say that our cars, vans and lorries are best-in-class in terms of fuel efficiency and carbon emissions, achieving an average of 110 CO2g/km or less in emissions per vehicle. In addition we’ve implemented dynamic remote vehicle monitoring and routing systems along with driver performance training and competitions to encourage optimal efficiency across our fleet.

Over and above these operational improvement projects, we’re investing in SMART metering systems and advanced monitoring tools to provide us with a better understanding of our energy use over time. This knowledge will feed into our long term data centre site strategy which will affect the future of our network topology and ultimately the energy efficiency and carbon emissions across our digital network.

We’re a big operation, and our plan involves working with many people right across the business – look out for an update in the new year. We’re also working closely with Liberty Global on our Carbon data collection – we’re now a British PLC which means we will have to do mandatory reporting of our carbon emissions in our company accounts going forward.

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