by Alistair Maughan

It’s easy to pay lip service to Green IT, but energy efficiency will pay dividends

Nov 20, 20113 mins
IT LeadershipIT Strategy

The adoption of Green IT should be on more firms’ agendas. The benefits of Green IT are clear in terms of cost savings, environmental sustainability and legal compliance. But are they really interested? Or is Green IT just for geeks?

I run a seminar for clients and contacts on average once a month. Last month, our topic was Green IT.

We did all the work, lined up some great guest speakers representing big IT users and service providers. And guess what? Nobody wanted to come.

Why was that? I could have understood it in the depths of the recession when green issues disappeared off corporate agendas as businesses simply looked to do more with less in terms of their IT estates.

But most of the obvious savings have been negotiated out by now and, in many cases, investment that’s been long postponed is needed in order to refresh platforms.

At the same time, energy prices continue to rise and corporate social responsibility is on the agenda.

Since 2010, all large energy users in the UK have been legally required by the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme to measure and report on their carbon emissions following a specific set of rules.

From 2012, affected businesses must buy carbon allowances from the government to offset their emissions in the previous year, so businesses that can reduce energy consumption will cut power bills and reduce the cost of buying their CRC allowances.

There is a long list of things that can be done in order to reduce energy consumption across an IT estate, from virtualisation to recycling to assessing of service providers’ own initiatives and datacentre efficiency.

Most importantly, innovative ICT plays a key role in helping companies reduce energy consumption in other parts of the business.

The CRC scheme offers the possibility of agreeing gainsharing arrangements to incentivise IT providers to reduce their customers’ fuel and carbon allowance bills.

And there’s more choice in the market between service providers. Some big datacentre operators are firmly committed to ensuring that their datacentres are cleanly powered (step forward Microsoft, Yahoo!) while others are reiterating their commitment to fossil fuel.

Green IT may be an idea whose time has not yet come, but it must surely be a part of any businesses’ long-term IT strategy.

Planning needs to start early, and needs to be embedded across an entire IT strategy as one of the core elements of that strategy. Only then will Green IT start to trickle down into commercial relationships and into longer term energy and cost savings.