How high up the corporate agenda is greening IT? Is the pursuit of profit really able to sit side-by-side with helping protect the planet and its people?
Yes, according to CompTIA’s survey of 650 IT and business executives involved in green initiatives or strategies in the US, UK and Germany. “IT is coming out of the server closet,” said Seth Robinson, the organisation’s director of information technology analysis.
The survey found that green IT is moving up the corporate agenda. While green IT initiatives typically are viewed as middle-range priorities in business, 37% of firms currently rate green IT as an “upper-half organisational priority.” Only 9% ranked it as highly in 2009. Looking ahead, 54% are expected to view green IT as an upper-tier priority in 2013, reported Leslie Guevarra on greenbiz.com
CopmTIA’s second annual Green IT Insights and Opportunities study, issued last month, also showed that more companies are budgeting for green IT with one in five now having a dedicated budget.
Policies that underpin a green IT strategy can include reducing energy consumption, use or design of equipment, recycling or product disposal, managing the carbon footprint, employee engagement, procurement standards and waste. Nearly half of firms have such a strategy.
Yet just what constitutes green IT will vary from one CIO to another. “Green IT remains a fuzzy concept to many,” the CompTIA study said.
There are two sides to a green IT policy: addressing the carbon footprint of the IT equipment and its use, and using IT to reduce the carbon footprint resulting from other business activities.
Should videoconferencing replace face to face meetings (and the travel that involves), for example? Should remote working be encouraged to reduce the energy use in buildings? Will the move to cloud computing reduce CO2 emissions?
Cloud computing means many processor intensive functions are carried out remotely, resulting in fewer, larger servers doing the work of a myriad of smaller on-site servers. “The result on greenhouse gas emissions is that since these larger more powerful servers possess many power efficiency benefits, they typically consume far less power and therefore are responsible for less CO2 emissions,” says Adrian Sobotta, in his book Greening IT.
“Information Technology holds a great potential in making society greener. IT will, if we use it wisely, lead the way to resource efficiency, energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions,” added Sobotta. But it won’t happen unaided. Businesses, he said, need to define the case to persuade investors and stakeholders that eco-sound IT will not dent the bottom line.
“One of the greatest challenges in integrating ‘green’ into the business agenda and developing a green IT strategy is how to connect boardroom policies on corporate social responsibility and green IT in practical terms. A carefully created green IT strategy can help to reduce a company’s negative impact on the environment, while adding value to the overall business strategy.
“A thorough green IT strategy should consider an end-to-end view, incorporating the complete lifecycle of assets. Demonstrating care and commitment to the environment eventually raises a company’s public profile and reputation with stakeholders. The greening of IT operations can support the three crucial aspects of sustainability for an organisation – economic, environmental and social – the so-called triple bottom line. With the triple bottom line in mind, there is a real opportunity to think outside the box and execute true leadership and innovation in adopting principles outside the standard spheres of influence.”
Has your organisation got, or considering devising, a green IT strategy? Do you agree that, despite the challenging economic issues, now is the time to add environmental concerns into the mix? Or will the demise of, and constraints on, the public sector – traditionally the driver in such a socially-led initiative – stall any moves to green IT?
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