Monday, 31 January 2011

GREEN IT fast becoming an essential element of business strategy

The following Guest Blog has been kindly submitted by Jon Wimpeney of Rock Energy Solutions - all about Green IT

Three years ago most of us had never even heard of 'Green IT' - what does it mean, why is it important and, most importantly, how can we make the best use of it?

Around 2% of global carbon emissions come from the manufacture and use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) - this is approximately the same amount as is generated by the aviation industry globally. Furthermore, ICT accounts for approximately 10% of the UK's electricity consumption and electricity demand for data centres worldwide is presently doubling every 5 years.

Equally, the opportunities for savings are huge: ICT could facilitate up to 15% reduction in carbon emissions in other business sectors by 2020, this saving being more than five times the size of the ICT sector's own footprint and if all UK businesses shut down their computers when not in use, it would contribute 40% of the energy reduction targets set by the Carbon Trust.

Greening IT means being efficient - not wasting money, resources or time. In effect, this translates into a collection of both strategic and tactical initiatives which:
• directly reduces the energy costs and carbon footprint of the organisation's computing department,
• utilises the services of ICT to help reduce the organisation's overall energy costs and carbon footprint,
• encourages and supports greener behaviour by employees, customers & suppliers,
• ensures the sustainability of the resources used by ICT across its lifecycle.

This last point about ICT lifecycle is critical to fully realising the potential savings - it is estimated that up to 25% of total ICT energy consumption is generated by embodied processes (i.e. the resourcing of raw materials and the production, manufacturing, transport and disposal of components and devices) with the rest being generated by its actual usage (i.e. the consumption of the device over its operating life). Both elements, therefore, must be considered when formulating a Green IT policy.

Businesses are increasingly finding that external factors (i.e. political, environmental, social & legal) are shaping the content of their Green IT policy. The good news, however, is that the business benefits of adopting such a policy are spread across many functions, including operations (both IT & production), finance (through cost reduction), reputational (improving brand & image) and cultural (where Green IT becomes a 'best practice').

Going forward, all businesses will need to take into account the environmental impact of their entire operation when planning their business strategy - Green IT is an essential element in making this happen.

Jon Wimpeney is a Director of Rock Energy Solutions, an independent Green IT and energy advisory company providing cost effective advice on how to make IT systems more energy efficient, as well as guidance on how to improve the energy performance of buildings, focusing in particular on renewable technologies.

1 Gartner, 2007 press release
2 Richard Barrington, Head of Public Policy for Sun UK and Ireland and UK government advisor
3 Report to US Congress on Server and Data Center efficiency, US Environmental Protection Agency
4 The Climate Group: Smart 2020 report, June 2008
5 Intellect
6 BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT: The Foundation Certificate in Green IT

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© Michael Donkin 2011