CIO's Green IT Survey: Cost Cutting, Social Responsibility Drive Environmental Moves

An exclusive CIO survey of 280 executives show that most don't measure the impact their organizations have on the environment.

IT executives are slowly but surely going green (see, The Greening of IT.) An exclusive survey of 280 IT executives shows two primary factors driving change: cost-cutting efforts related to energy efficiency; and efforts to be more socially responsible corporate citizens. The survey also found that most organizations do not measure the impact their work has on the environment.

More detailed results follow.

Corporate social responsibility programs on the rise but there's room for improvement.

Over half of IT executives surveyed (55 percent) say their organization has at least one corporate social responsibility program that includes "green" initiatives dedicated to environmental sustainability while one quarter are beginning to address the issue. But only half (54 percent) of respondents report that their organizations frequently participate in product take-back/recycling programs from vendors, or dispose of IT equipment in an environmentally safe way, 21 percent take this action only occasionally and 20 percent seldom or never take advantage of vendor recycling programs or dispose of IT equipment in an environmentally safe way. Additionally, one third (32 percent) of respondents seldom or never take into account whether or not the products they will purchase are energy efficient or produced and distributed using sustainable processes.

Social responsibility and reduced costs primary drivers for "greening" IT operations.

IT executives cite social responsibility (38 percent) and reducing operational costs (37 percent) as primary drivers for "greening" their IT operations. Activities organizations are currently undertaking or planning to implement to make their IT operations more environmentally friendly include reducing server power consumption (64 percent), educating users to turn off equipment at night (57 percent), configuring desktops not in use to enter sleep mode (49 percent) and upgrading or reconfiguring data center cooling infrastructure for improved efficiency (44 percent). Of the 63 percent of respondents needing to be in compliance with state electronics recycling laws, nearly all (92 percent) say their organization is currently in compliance with the required regulations.

Environmental sustainability goals and measurements are lacking.

Most companies still aren't measuring the impact their organization has on the environment. 61 percent of respondents report their organization doesn't currently measure its carbon footprint and only 16 percent are getting ready to do it. Of the nearly one quarter of companies that do measure their carbon footprint, only 11 percent include IT in the calculation. Only 24 percent of IT executives surveyed report that their organization monitors IT-related energy spending while half (46 percent) say their organizations have no environmental sustainability goals for IT. Not surprisingly given the lack of measurement, only 20 percent of IT executives surveyed have metrics to document their progress toward "greening" their IT department.

Methodology for the survey.

The CIO Green IT Survey was conducted online from November 27, 2007 to December 7, 2007with the purpose of understanding both how IT supports corporate initiatives for environmental sustainability and also green programs operating within IT. An email invitation containing a link to the survey was sent to a sample from the CIO customer database.

Survey findings are based on 280 responses from a broad range of industries including education/non-profit (12 percent), manufacturing (10 percent), finance/banking/accounting (9 percent), government (7 percent), government (7 percent), healthcare/medical services/pharmaceutical/bio-tech (6 percent), and wholesaler/retailer/distributor (6 percent). The margin of error on a sample size of 280 is +/- 5.9%. Percents may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

More than half (54 percent) of respondents are the top IT executive at their company or business unit. Eight out of ten (83 percent) respondents hold a director level title or higher. Company size distribution by annual revenue is as follows: less than $100 million in revenue (28 percent), $101 - $999 million (33 percent), and $1 billion or more (31 percent); 7 percent did not provide a revenue figure.

Green IT Survey Data

Does your organization have a corporate social responsibility program that includes "green" initiatives: i.e., initiatives dedicated to environmental sustainability?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Yes, we have one or more programs in effect 154 55%
No, but we are starting to address the issue 68 24%
No plans for this type of program 58 21%

Does your organization measure its carbon footprint?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
We aren't measuring our carbon footprint at this time 170 61%
No, but we are getting ready to do it 44 16%
Yes, but IT is not currently included in the calculation 34 11%
Yes, and IT is included in the calculation 30 11%

Which of the following regulatory requirements does your organization need to be in compliance with?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Electronics recycling laws in U.S. states where your company has operations 176 63%
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) 45 16%
European Union (EU) Restrictions on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) 36 13%
European Union (EU) Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) 35 12%

Is your organization currently in compliance with the following regulatory requirements?

Count Yes Count No
Electronics recycling laws in U.S. states where your company has operations 143 92% 12 8%
European Union (EU) Restrictions on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) 30 91% 3 9%
European Union (EU) Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) 26 84% 5 16%
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical substances) 32 78% 9 22%

Does your organization have environmental sustainability goals for IT (for example, improved energy efficiency)?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Yes 151 54%
No 126 46%

What is the primary driver for "greening" your IT operations? (select one)

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Socially responsible thing to do 105 38%
Reduce operational costs (such as energy consumption) 103 37%
Government regulations 13 5%
Competitive differentiation/advantage 13 5%
Not applicable 42 15%

Is your organization currently undertaking or planning to undertake any of the following activities? (check all that apply)

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Reduce server power consumption 179 64%
Educate PC users to turn off desktops and monitors overnight 159 57%
Configure desktops to enter sleep mode when not in use 137 49%
Upgrade or reconfigure data center cooling infrastructure for improved efficiency 122 44%
Install more efficient data center power supplies 103 37%
Install PC power management software 79 28%
Build a new data center that is energy efficient 61 22%

Does your organization monitor IT-related energy spending?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
No 155 56%
Yes 66 24%
Have plans to do so 56 20%

Do you have metrics to document your progress toward "greening" your IT department?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Yes 56 20%
No 221 80%

When purchasing hardware, how often do you take into account whether the products are energy efficient or produced and distributed using sustainable processes? (select one)

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Frequently 88 32%
Occasionally 87 31%
Seldom 49 18%
Never 38 14%
Have plans to do so 16 6%

How often does your organization participate in vendors' product take-back/recycling programs or otherwise dispose of IT equipment in an environmentally safe way?

Count Percentage of Sample Answering
Frequently 151 54%
Occasionally 58 21%
Seldom 28 10%
Never 28 10%
Have plans to do so 12 4%

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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