3 minute read     |     Digital Transformation, Climate Change

OnPoint Perspectives: ACT-IAC Climate Change Summit 2024: Shaping the Tech Industry's Sustainable Future

Authored by: Jeff Mercurio

In our fast-paced industry, it’s easy to unknowingly overlook the environmental impact of technological innovation and progress. However, as private companies that continually support diverse Federal missions, we hold quite a unique responsibility in conducting our business appropriately, including tactics to combat unnecessary negative environmental influence. Climate change—it isn’t an abstract problem. It’s a crisis in need of innovative solutions both from within and outside of government alike.

Across almost all conversations surrounding digital transformation, buzzwords like “cloud computing”, “Zero Trust”, and (everyone’s more recent favorite) “artificial intelligence” become all too familiar to us in our day to day, painting a picture of elusive (and maybe even ethereal) technology. But the truth is, the tech industry has a very real—very physical—footprint with significant environmental and ecological impacts.

The tech industry’s drive for innovation, coupled with customer expectations and a need for constant adaptation to emerging technologies, often comes at some kind of environmental cost. For example, massive data centers and manufacturing processes are energy-intensive and contribute heavily to carbon emissions. Despite their undeniable value, it’s crucial to acknowledge impacts like these and educate ourselves and our colleagues about climate change. Promoting sustainability in tech can mitigate these effects while still fostering innovation.

As company representatives that support Federal agencies in their pursuit toward digital modernization and technology adoption, it’s imperative that we ask the tough questions about our roles in addressing climate change. As a member on the planning committee for ACT-IAC’s Climate Change Summit 2024, I invite you to take a moment to think about our indirect (or direct) impacts on possible climate change while pursuing a technologically modernized society.

Our Role as Government Contractors

We occupy a unique space as partners to Federal agencies. The missions we support are often vast and wide-reaching—national security, healthcare, infrastructure. This means our technology choices reverberate through entire systems. Here’s what we should be thinking about:

It's Not Just About Compliance

Sure, government regulations and sustainability mandates help set the baseline.  But as industry leaders, shouldn’t we be at the forefront of change?

In an increasingly climate-unstable world, future-proofing business operations is more crucial than ever. Adopting proactive strategies not only reduces future risks but also strengthens supply chains, ensuring that companies remain resilient in the face of environmental uncertainties.

Collaboration also plays a pivotal role. By engaging with suppliers and clients about shared green values, companies can catalyze systemic changes across the industry. Additionally, staying current with emerging green technologies and continuously learning about new sustainability practices helps in the process of making informed decisions. Implementing even small, impactful changes can lead to significant environmental benefits. This approach not only aligns with global sustainability goals but also positions companies as leaders in the drive towards a greener future.

The Big Takeaway: Collective Education

In such a dynamic industry like tech, the focus often leans heavily towards innovation and progress—sometimes at the expense of environmental considerations. However, as providers supporting Federal missions nationwide, we assume a distinctive responsibility. Climate change represents not merely a theoretical issue but a pressing crisis demanding inventive responses. As leaders in and purveyors of implementing technology, our role is crucial in regularly addressing these challenges.

At OnPoint, we actively encourage a culture of continuous learning; in the spirit of a collective pursuit toward a more climate-conscious workforce in technology, I took the opportunity to volunteer as a planning committee member for ACT-IAC’s Climate Change Summit 2024: Addressing Climate Trends, Action, Sustainability, and Resilience to be held this week on Wednesday, 4/17.

The panel I helped put together for the summit—titled Beyond the Government: Academic Perspectives in Climate Change—will focus on the niche but pivotal function academic institutions provide in advancing climate-based actions through research, sustainable practices, and policy advocacy, specifically highlighting how university initiatives align with governmental efforts to achieve national climate goals.

Join us on April 17th for ACT-IAC’s 2024 Climate Change Summit—come be a part of the ever-evolving conversation of changing climate with leaders in government, industry, and academia in a communal effort to forge knowledge and collaborate on strategies toward addressing the pressing challenges of climate change in the technology industry.

See you there!

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Jeff Mercurio
Strategic Partnership Coordinator

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