Technology For Environmental Health

With a plan to support business while also reducing climate impact, multinational technology and business solutions company NTT embraces collaborative research in breakthrough technologies

Find out why people and the planet are
becoming more important in business

There is no longer any doubt about the impact of human activity on the environment. After a year of unprecedented natural disasters, a landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the scientific evidence for human induced warming was “unequivocal.” It can be no coincidence that, according to the UN agency, weather disasters are striking the world four to five times more often and causing seven times more damage than in the 1970s.

Governments must lead the way on measures to lower energy consumption and carbon emissions, but the private sector also has a critical role in the planet’s future. Japan headquartered NTT—with $112 billion in revenue and 320,000 employees worldwide—is leveraging its technology to boost environmental health. The company’s sustainability strategy is driven by a strong focus on research and development.

With its global reach and local understanding, NTT pursues a collaborative and flexible approach with expert partners to innovate, according to Dr. Katsuhiko Kawazoe, Executive Vice President, Head of Research and Development Planning. He emphasizes his organization’s mission to improve the future of the environment through long-term investments.

“Researchers must go beyond their boundaries to consider what is best for contributing to the betterment of society, then invest resources to execute that plan,” says Dr. Kawazoe, pointing out that NTT spends $3.6 billion per year on R&D. “NTT Laboratories has opened its doors wide to researchers and collaborators. We value broad, diverse, and deep research in various fields.”

He continues: “We must not be simply making gains through algorithms and data but bringing about greater change and progress. Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) is a prime example of this.”

“Researchers must go beyond their boundaries to consider what is best for contributing to the betterment of society.”

Trailblazing technology

The ultimate aim of IOWN is to craft a pioneering network and information processing platform that features high-speed, high-capacity communication. In particular, trailblazing optics focused technology, supported by tremendous computational resources, offers ultra-low latency and ultra-low power consumption. This will contribute to achieving the carbon neutrality on a global scale.

Dr. Kawazoe believes IOWN can be achieved by 2030 with the right partnerships. Explaining its benefits, he adds: “IOWN bridges various research themes, removing current technological barriers and enabling further innovation that contributes to a sustainable future.”

Other initiatives include NTT’s Environment and Energy Vision, formulated in May 2020 to promote the management of ESG (environmental, social and governance). Because data centers and computing power consume lots of electricity, which accounts for about 90 percent of the company’s CO2 emissions, NTT Group has committed to using more renewable energy and investing in more energy efficient technologies.

Under its vision, NTT is working to achieve a goal of “zero environmental impact,” not only in terms of reducing waste but also concerning climate change, by incorporating circular economy thinking toward realizing a society that can enable the sustainability of both business and the environment.

NTT Group, which traces its roots back to the introduction of the telegraph in Japan in 1869, has a long heritage of innovation and working together with partners to solve problems. The recently drafted Energy Efficiency Guidelines define its philosophy and outline targets, such as developing and procuring routers, servers, and other ICT devices that consume less electricity.

Climate-neutral data centers

NTT is one of 25 companies and 17 associations that have agreed to make data centers in Europe climate neutral by 2030 as part of the Climate Neutral Data Center Pact. The voluntary initiative aims to contribute to Europe’s transition to a greener economy—and NTT reports being well on its way to meeting this aim.

While powering data centers currently requires up to 1.5 percent of global electricity usage, this is forecast to increase ten fold by 2030 if left unchecked. Given that it has been predicted that data center sustainability will become a competitive differentiator by 2023, there is an element of both carrot and stick for the industry to take proactive action.

This challenge is old news for NTT’s global data center teams, which have led the charge for sustainable change over the past two decades, including advances in energy supply and consumption and data center building design.

Now there is excitement about the potential to improve IT load efficiencies within a data center. This development will make sure equipment is working smarter, not harder, fitted with the latest technology to perform more efficiently per wattage.

In the U.S., NTT partners with local utility providers to offer renewable energy options at all of the organization’s data center campuses across the country. Three of its data centers in Sacramento, California, are already powered exclusively by green energy.

“As one of the largest global data center providers in the world, we feel a real sense of urgency to take our impact seriously, as we proactively look for ways to reduce our environmental impact,” says Masaaki Moribayashi, President and Board Director for NTT Ltd.

Summing up NTT’s commitment to improving the planet’s health through innovative technology, he concludes: “Sustainability is important not just for the planet, but also for business.”

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