In recent years sustainability has become a pressing agenda for many businesses. But what does sustainability in the workplace really mean? 

The United Nations defines sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In a business sense, sustainability is about the ability to support and maintain processes continuously over time. Sustainable practices should support environmental, human, and economic health and vitality, not just business processes. 

A key sustainable practice is the idea of environmental stewardship or the responsibility of taking care of the environment by producing goods and services in ways that don’t use resources that can’t be replaced or those that damage the natural environment.

You and your product development business can start by considering the types of software used in a green and sustainable workplace and develop workflow practices that can support sustainability. 

Cloud Computing’s Role in a Green Workplace

Let’s discuss the sustainable advantages of cloud computing, which is the on-demand availability of data storage and computing power of a large data center without direct management of the servers.

When switching to software that uses cloud computing, fewer servers are used. The cloud allows businesses to remove their on-premise servers that require maintenance and shifts all of the heavy lifting to data centers that are designed for optimal energy efficiency, which, in turn, helps reduce the carbon impact of the company’s energy use. 

For instance, transitioning to software that is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) can reduce a company’s carbon footprint by 88% while maintaining server performance. Large data centers like those managed by AWS are able to provide environmental economies of scale that allow for business growth without an exponential increase in energy consumption. 

As an example, Onshape’s data centers, which use AWS, are about 2.5 times more energy efficient than general enterprise data centers. When taking renewable energy into account to calculate relative carbon efficiency, they are over 8.5% more efficient.

In essence, switching to cloud-native software, like Onshape, allows green workplaces to use 77% fewer servers and 84% less power

Another benefit to cloud computing: AWS aims to power its data centers and servers with 100% renewable energy by 2025 and is committed to reaching net-zero carbon across operations by 2040. 

a tangle of cordsCourtesy: @tvick/ 

CAD in the Cloud & Sustainability in the Workplace

The use of cloud 3D CAD software, such as Onshape, allows for machine consolidation, a reduction of hardware upkeep, paperless work, resource-saving product experimentation, and sustainability in the workplace. 

With the aforementioned data centers doing the heavy lifting of data storage and computing power, workplace hardware doesn’t need to have the intense capabilities required by other CAD software. This allows for fewer hardware replacements and maintenance, therefore reducing company costs and waste. 

Switching to cloud-powered software allows for more organized, collaborative, and time-efficient practices. Documents no longer need to be printed or even emailed to one another, saving time and resources by linking or sharing coworkers into documents for easy collaboration. 

The team at Premier Custom-Built, a luxury cabinetry manufacturer based in Pennsylvania, is leveraging Onshape’s ease of access to product information by pursuing a paperless factory floor. 

“With Onshape, we can take data from the CAD model and turn that into data for the shop,” software engineer Chad Stoltzfus said. “Essentially, the definition of our product can exist not in paperwork and the model, but solely in the model.”

Beyond going paperless, Onshape’s easy communication and collaboration workflows encourage sustainable practices in product development. For instance, a product’s creation history is never lost and is automatically saved. With history tracking and automatic save, designers have total control of versions and design processes allowing for smoother product version experimentation and creation. 

The ability to freely experiment without fear of data loss allows for different iterations of the product and exploring more sustainable manufacturing and production lines by changing product material, shape, or design. 

Sustainability in Every Workplace

Onshape is PTC’s fully cloud-native 3D CAD software system. PTC provides customers with the Power To Create…. Anything. The Power to create new technology. The Power to create diverse solutions. The Power to Create a better world!

Our commitment to the Power to Create approach is about empowering our workforce, customer, and community to imagine and create a better future. When looking to the future, there is the looming issue of environmental degradation and a lack of sustainable solutions. 

PTC hopes to empower people to create these solutions as well as benefit from our technology’s sustainable solutions, one of which being the cloud-based structure of our CAD software Onshape.

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