Thanks to new technology, it's easy being green

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This article appeared in the 29 September, 2008 issue of CRN magazine.

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Thanks to new technology, it's easy being green
Environmental sustainability is the talk of the town.

Everybody’s doing it. Your receptionist is buying recycled paper and your barista is brewing Fair Trade coffee.

Staff members are cycling to work, and boy, do they smell – that’s the smell of environmental sustainability.

Even the new crowds on your morning train are busily reading the back pages of The Sydney Morning Herald, smiling smugly to themselves about their reduced carbon footprint. And don’t you wish they’d bought Priuses instead.

But if you sell products to ICT departments, environmental sustainability is coming to you, too.

According to IT research firm Gartner, the ICT industry globally produces around two percent of total carbon emissions. And there are plenty of ways to cut pollution – the World Wildlife Fund recently released a paper identifying the first billion tonnes of CO² that can be effectively reduced by smart use of ICT.

Soon you’ll be called upon to help your clients reduce their carbon emissions.

What are you going to do? Drinking Fair Trade coffee just isn’t enough.
Ian Birks, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), said that the ICT industry has only recently become aware of its role in climate change.

“It’s probably only in the past three to five years that environmental sustainability has become such a strong issue that it’s really had a direct and positive impact on the design and creation of ICT solutions,” said Birks.

The movement is known as ‘Green IT’, and it’s being led by the Federal Government.

For the first time, this financial year large organisations will need to report their environmental impact alongside financial, governance and compliance data.

Companies are turning to their ICT departments to help reduce their environmental impact.

“Reducing their carbon footprint is in the key KPIs for their organisation, and that’s cascading down the organisation from the CEO down to the CIO and all the people within the IT area, who are directly applying that need for change,” said Birks.

Already you should be seeing products that boast about their environmental benefits.

Intel and Dell have products on the market that use less energy than ever before.

Laptops are being touted as “power- saving” computers because they use, on average, five times less energy than a desktop.

Power consumption also comes in improved power supply units, some of which boast that they’re so energy efficient that they don’t need fans to reduce excess heat.

Further, Intel has made great strides into energy efficiency in its processors, reducing power consumption by around 40 percent with every generation.

Overall, computers are leaner and less power-consuming than ever before.

“When one looks at a current generation notebook PC,” said Birks, “it’s somewhere in the order of 17 times more energy-efficient than a desktop from a couple of years ago.”

As well as improving conditions within the ICT industry itself, Birks said that tech firms had the power to make “tremendous” changes to the wider community’s environmental impact.

“Strategies such as virtualisation, consolidation of servers and PCs are very much in tune with the ‘Green IT’ agenda,” said Birks.

Smart buildings, telecommuting, virtual meetings, intelligent transport infrastructure and energy supply systems. Across these spectrums, ICT can play a huge role.

Greening the ICT industry will be surprisingly easy.

There are cost-effective technologies, emissions-reducing business strategies and burgeoning recycling schemes. If vendors are willing to adopt them, then the ICT industry can come together to reduce its impact on the environment.

And if all else fails, there’s always that Fair Trade coffee.

The AIIA will host the Sustainable Futures Forum on 7 October at the Sofitel Melbourne.
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