– Jessica Vreeswijk, Editor in Chief at GreenItTools (www.GreenITTools.com), says:
97% of IT professionals say reducing carbon footprint is important. Why is little action underway at this point?
1. Attention has been focused on Data Centres – hardware vendors and consultants have been primarily focused on providing products and services to large companies who have data centres where there is a supply crisis predicted in energy in the next couple years. There has been a lot of movement in the data centre area because there are big savings to be had from looking at different methods for heating and cooling as well as reducing the amount of heat-producing hardware required to provide the processing power and storage needs. The ROI is high and there is an imperative as many states in the US have made it clear that there is not an unlimited supply of electricity for fast-growing data centers.
2. Facilities departments are generally responsible for energy costs – as a result, IT managers are not responsible for making sure they are minimizing this cost centre. As with any initiative, cross-functional projects are much more difficult to get off the ground when the costs must be paid by one department while another will benefit. Some companies are now assigning IT managers the responsibility for the energy costs and this will certainly ensure that IT can make the business case for changes.
Many people believe that reducing your footprint in IT is about shutting down PCs and monitors at night. In fact there are many practices, a few of which are listed here:
• purchasing policies to ensure that what enters the door has been manufactured in an environmentally respectful way and can be recycled at the end of its life.
• asset management practices that ensure you get the longest life out of your equipment and use equipment as efficiently as possible to provide your employees with the functions they need.
• ensuring the employees are encouraged to shut off equipment at night including printers, monitors, desktops, laptops and all electronic devices.
• providing the organization with technology that will help reduce the overall footprint by increasing virtual collaboration and enforcing responsible printing habits.
Why are organizations becoming more sensitive to ecological considerations?
There are many possible answers to this question as well. Here are a few of the most compelling I have seen.
1. Increasing media/public relations opportunities – there has been a lot of attention in the media and in politics around ecological concerns. Beginning with the Inconvenient Truth movie, many people began to wake up to environmental concerns at home and are now waking up at work. In some sectors there is significant pressure from investors who are concerned about risk inherent the what appears to be a move towards regulation. Work such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and the G3 reporting framework have legitimized and made measurable the impacts of organizations.
2. Increasing regulatory risks – as mentioned above, states such as California and much of Europe have been adopting regulations that are forcing companies to internalized ecological costs they were previously able to externalize. With the development of carbon markets and a price on carbon emissions, there is now a tangible, tradable, marketable ‘thing’ that companies can view as a threat or an opportunity.
3. Attracting and retaining employees and customers – many studies have shown that employees want to work for a company that is, at a minimum, interested in understanding and reducing the environmental impact. Particularly the next generation appears to place a high value on working for organizations that match their personal values whether they be social justice, environmentalism or another area that would have traditionally been seen as external to the responsibility of businesses.