CERs an opportunity for others to pollute

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Sukalp Sharma | Sukalp Sharma | Updated: Feb 5 2012, 07:30am hrs
Infosys Technologies, the country's second largest information technology (IT) company, plans to become carbon neutral and shift completely to renewable energy by 2017 and maintains that going green is less expensive than continuing with traditional methods. In a chat with Kirtika Suneja and Sukalp Sharma, Infosys' head of green initiatives Rohan M Parikh says investment in sustainability measures is less than the returns, and hence his company wants a leadership position in the sector. Excerpts:

What was the trigger behind this idea of turning green and becoming carbon neutral

We are an aspirational company and our approach is to take market leadership in sustainability and not hide behind policies. Our idea is that going green is less expensive as the renewable energy contracts are on a par with the grid. We lobbied with the government for two years that we need green power. We realised that wind and hydro are competitively priced in Karnataka and Maharashtra and that solar is expected to become competitive with the grid in a few states.

What share of energy do you derive from renewables

In terms of green electrons being fed into the grid, we have signed contracts worth 20% of the total energy consumption, of which 15% have been realised. Of this total 60 million units, bulk is wind and the rest of almost 5 million units is hydro. We plan to scale it up to 10 million units.

As for solar, we have done a few demonstration projects on onsite solar photovoltaic. These are both rooftop and on-ground installations. In fact, we are now in the process of installing solar powered rooftops on our multilevel car parks.

How important are green buildings in the context of sustainability and how green are Infosys' campuses

For us, a green building is a high performing building with net zero wastage. The next question is, can we design campuses where we can survive on extreme rain water harvesting and recycling The basis of green buildings lies in the very design of the building. For example, we have installed flow restrictors on taps on our campuses which restrict the flow of water and hence reduce wastage.

Secondly, we do major rain water sequestering and have created cascading lakes that channel all the rainwater into the ground. More than 52% of our total water requirement on the Mysore campus is met through this. We have made such lakes in Pune and Hyderabad too. All this is a part of our campus planning strategy.

Are all your buildings green rated

All buildings that have come up after 2008 are being applied for green rating and three of our buildings are LEED platinum certified and three are up for rating by GRIHA. Ten more buildings are in the pipeline to be rated.

What is the next step in green buildings

We are working on smart buildings that is including information technology (IT) in the buildings by installing controls and sensors. Though we don't plan to offer consultancy to others regarding green buildings and sustainability, we will monetise on the smart buildings part.

What about carbon credits

We are not applying for carbon credits because it gives an opportunity to others to pollute, but we are reducing the amount of carbon in the total mix. We are not selling carbon credits.

What is the long term vision of the company for sustainability

We plan to reduce our power consumption by half by 2018 and the ensure that the balance is powered by renewable energy. Offsetting carbon emissions and becoming carbon neutral by March 2018 is also on the agenda.