Jun 012010

CIOs and IT departments are being asked to reduce energy consumption of their IT, and manage energy supply and demand intelligently. Even simple steps that make a small difference for an individual or an organization can make a huge difference for the world. However, to comprehensively and effectively address the environmental impacts of IT, we must adopt a holistic approach and make the entire IT lifecycle greener by addressing environmental sustainability at every stage/phase. And, to build a greener environment, we might also be required to end or modify many of our old and familiar ways of doing things to adopt Green strategies, revise enterprise policies and discover new methods. Further, companies are urged to develop Green IT strategies that are aligned with their overall business strategies, audit the energy consumption of their IT, and establish and report their carbon footprint and green credentials.

Triggered by the imminent introduction of more Green taxes and regulations, there will be a major increase in demand for Green IT products and solutions. Hence a growing number of IT vendors and users have begun to offer Green IT products and services. The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool helps buyers identify Green IT products by labeling computer hardware as bronze, silver, or gold, based on its environmental attributes.

In recent years, there have been major developments in terms improving the energy efficiency of computers, virtualization, data center design and operation, power-aware software, and so on. However, areas such as green technology adoption, environmental impact assessment, carbon footprint assessment and management, standards and regulation need further development. And more importantly, we should harness the power of IT for environmental sustainability in other domains; for example, transport, manufacturing, and workplace, as well as in households.

Increasing awareness of the harmful effects of gas emissions, new stringent environmental legislations, concerns about electronic waste disposal practices that damage our environment, and corporate image concerns are pushing businesses and individuals to go Green. Exploiting the call for environmental sustainability, however, some companies try to bolster their Green credentials by exaggerating their products’ and services’ eco-friendliness in their marketing campaigns. They are just green washing. Nevertheless, whether driven by rising energy costs, regulatory mandates, or genuine concern for the planet, a growing number of businesses are keenly interested in “going green” and/or are introducing Green IT products.

The push for greening IT and the enterprise has created new career opportunities for IT professionals, auditors, and others with special skills in areas such as energy efficiency, environmental law, and ethical IT asset disposal. Some organizations have created new positions and divisions to embrace this trend.

Given the promise of green IT, what can IT professionals, CIOs, and CTOs do to embrace green IT in their organization and to harness the power of IT to improve environmental sustainability in several other domains? Specifically,

  • How can they make their IT infrastructure, products, services, operations, applications, and practices environmentally sound?
  • How can IT assist other businesses and society at large in their efforts to improve our environmental sustainability?
  • What is the attitude of the IT sector, business, and individual users toward Green IT?
  • What are the barriers to adopting greener IT practices? Are we seeing a paradigm shift in IT toward Green IT?
  • What strategies, policies, and procedures enterprises could adopt to embrace Green IT?
  • What can the governments do to foster and enforce Green IT initiatives? What can individuals do to reduce environmental impacts of their personal IT?
  • Is Green IT hype, marketing ploy, or is it here for a long stay?

What is your take on the above questions? Are you or your organization adopting Green IT practices? Please share your experiences and insights on greening IT and harnessing the power of IT to address environmental sustainability, and help make our planet a safer place for us and for the generations to come.


San Murugesan

Professor San Murugesan is a Senior Consultant with the Data Insight & Social BI practice and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Computing and Mathematics at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and is an independent IT and education consultant.


  2 Responses to “Harness the Power of Green IT”

  1. […] The Cutter Blog » Blog Archive » Harness the Power of Green IT […]

  2. avatar

    Just as organizations have learnt that reducing is cheaper than reuse, recycle or throw out; now they are discovering that it is often more profitable to redesign and reimagine.

    Some of the potential areas where IT can be harnessed to improve environment sustainability are Green accounting and management software, industrial/engineering products and processes design to reduce waste / energy, building eco-friendly products, fuel reduction in transportation systems, environment monitoring systems, video conferencing to reduce travel, water purification processes etc.

    Green is all over the globe. Green campaign like ‘Earth Hour’, ads by celebrities, seminars, (not to miss) International Green IT Awareness Week and smart Green IT quick wins like consolidation, hibernation, use of power efficient equipment etc have made a positive enforcement towards eco-friendliness.

    Green is everyone’s responsibility; therefore everyone in every possible ways should partake in this. It could be from quitting plastics to powering off computers/ home appliances when not in use to planting trees to put standards for recycling garbage in your own locality etc.

    In my opinion, Green IT is neither a hype nor a marketing ploy; Green is in! It is the need of the hour and we must do something good about it. Although organizations are taking baby steps, Green is gaining momentum gradually. The focus is on low hanging fruits and big investments still have other priorities for most of the organization. Just like any other initiatives, Green too needs ownership, management commitment and regular tracking to do well.

    In a nut shell, Organizations are bound to think, build, operate and adapt Green to sustain their business today!

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