Environmentally Sustainable IT Definition and Solutions

Environmentally Sustainable IT topics covering definition, objectives, systems and solutions.

Rising energy prices. Global warming. Old equipment piling up in storage (and landfills). Environmental issues—and IT's role in them—are getting more attention than ever. If you want to use technology in a more sustainable way, here are the answers you need to begin.

What is sustainable IT?

Sustainable, or "green," IT is a catch-all term used to describe the manufacture, management, use and disposal of information technology in a way that minimizes damage to the environment. As a result, the term has many different meanings, depending on whether you are a manufacturer, manager or user of technology.


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The Environment and IT Leadership

Getting Rid of Old Hardware

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Newsletter: CIO Enterprise

What is sustainable IT manufacturing?

Sustainable IT manufacturing refers to methods of producing products in a way that does not harm the environment. It encompasses everything from reducing the amount of harmful chemicals used in products to making them more energy efficient and packaging them with recycled materials.

European Union regulations require computer manufacturers such as Dell, HP and Lenovo to abide by green manufacturing laws that limit the use of some toxic substances, such as lead and mercury, in their products. These products are also available in the United States.

What is sustainable IT management and use?

Sustainable IT management and use has to do with the way a company manages its IT assets. It includes purchasing energy-efficient desktops, notebooks, servers and other IT equipment, as well as managing the power consumption of that equipment. It also refers to the environmentally safe disposal of that equipment, through recycling or donation at the end of its lifecycle.

What is sustainable IT disposal?

Sustainable IT disposal refers to the safe disposal of IT assets at the end of their lifecycle. It ensures that old computer equipment (otherwise known as e-waste) does not end up in a landfill, where the toxic substances it contains can leach into groundwater, among other problems. Many of the major hardware manufacturers offer take-back programs, so IT departments don't have to take responsibility for disposal. Some U.S. states and the European Union have laws requiring that e-waste be recycled.

What is the goal of sustainable IT?

The goal behind most green business initiatives, including green IT, is to promote environmental sustainability. In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainability as an approach to economic development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

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