Net Positive

The traditional view of most CSR programs is to reduce the impact a company has. But we believe doing “less bad” is not good enough. The future belongs to those who can find solutions don’t just reduce the negatives, but also increase the positives. They are regenerative solutions, putting more back into society, the environment and the global economy than they take out. net positive
On balance, they are known as “net positive.” And we believe that technology has a special role to play in enabling net positive solutions.

At Dell, we have always believed that technology comes with a promise. A promise of advancement, of fulfillment of hopes and dreams, of betterment for every individual it touches. It has the power to drive human progress and help our customers do great things.

This is why the overarching goal within our Legacy of Good Plan is to demonstrate that the good that will come from our technology is 10x what it takes to create and use it.

What is Net Positive?

Most everyone is familiar with the concept of “footprint” – often in the context of a carbon footprint, for example. It is the impact created by a set of actions. Have you ever thought about what the opposite of that footprint is? Some have referred to that as “handprint” – or the positive results created by the set of actions. Net Positive, then, refers to products, solutions or even organizations where the measure of the handprint is bigger than the footprint.

Take automated building controls and the specific measure of carbon, for example. There is a footprint associated with the technology used to collect, process and act on the environmental data. By using the building controls, though, a building manager may save a significant amount of energy. If the amount of carbon footprint of the energy saved by the building controls is greater than the carbon footprint of technology used to achieve those savings, it is said to be Net Positive.

But what about real, measured examples?

net-ercot.jpg Using Technology to Improve Electricity Transmission

This report examines the impacts of information technologies (IT) on carbon emissions and electricity price in electricity markets. It specifically demonstrates how IT has enabled the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to better manage the electricity grid, increasing the penetration of renewable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions and lowering prices for consumers.
education  Net Positive and online education

Online education has become a significant part of Arizona State University’s approach to education, often helping those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to earn a degree. We worked with ASU to measure the impact of technology in online education. What we found was that increased access to degrees through online education can create socio-economic benefits of as much as $545,000 or more per undergraduate degree over the lifetime of the graduate while also reducing their carbon footprint by at least 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

virtualization Virtualization delivers more computing

By using software to make one software act like many allows servers to run at maximum efficiency. VMware has studied the collective impact of customers using their server virtualization products and they are estimated to have avoided 340 million metric tons of CO2e over the last 13 years. Every virtualized server is estimated to avoid 4 tons of CO2 per year.

Learn more

flexible work The sustainability benefits of flexible work

While intuitively you would think telecommuting should have a Net Positive effect, we were curious to know how much – and to understand if there was a rebound effect from increased home electricity use, non-business vehicle trips from home, etc. So we conducted a study, and the result is that we are helping our own employees reduce their carbon footprint by a collective 35,000 metric tons of CO2e each year while also saving more than $12 million combined in reduced gasoline consumption costs.

train Driving positive outcomes through open data

As cities continue to grow, our transportation infrastructures need to adapt. Managed well, these changes can be an opportunity to improve not just the way people move about the urban landscape, but how sustainable that system can be. Open data may well be the key, inspiring innovation, engagement and collaboration. The research recommends how to make the most of open data ecosystems, helping stakeholders shift from passive providers of data to active participants in problem solving and innovation.
Our quest to quantify Net Positive

In addition to our own Net Positive goal, we believe setting standards around how to measure/identify Net Positive results can help everyone understand the true impact of the products and services they use. Measurement and standards are not things we can or should solve by ourselves. That’s where the Net Positive Project comes in – a cross-sector coalition launched in June 2016 with the aim of expanding the number of Net Positive companies and developing global principles for measurement. Dell was one of the founding members.

In FY18, we continued to build up our body of knowledge through our work with the Net Positive Project. In addition to working with the group on revising the core Net Positive principles, identifying appropriate metrics and sharing best practices, the Net Positive Project developed a maturity model to help organizations new to the concept understand where they are in the process of achieving regenerative results.