Business Hardware

How Green is Your IT Department?

IT departments must establish a "green baseline" for their operations, according to new advice from Forrester Research.

Without a well defined environmental baseline, IT leaders will not be able to respond effectively to demands to "go green" and will not be able to invest effectively.

The fact that many IT departments still do not pay for their own energy should not deter technology leaders from taking the initiative on the carbon footprint of their organization.

"If you don't pay for the energy-related costs of IT, but believe green IT can positively impact the bottom line, talk to the business," advises Forrester analyst Doug Washburn, in a report, Is Green IT Your Emperor with No Clothes?

"Even if the financial benefits of your greening effort accrue to the facilities group, the company overall is profiting and aligning IT operations with the business."

Washburn also suggests IT leaders can use green as a way of developing staff skills.

"Inspire and develop staff by forming a green team," he urges. "Green IT is a complex topic requiring holistic thinking and creative solutions, exactly the skills the IT organization of the future needs to embrace.

Forming a green team will foster these skills within IT and help senior management identify staff members looking to go beyond their regular call of duty. Given that the second most popular driver (measured in an earlier Forrester analysis of IT departments) for pursuing green IT is to "do the right thing for the environment," the effort is likely to be well received by your staff.

The team should include facilities management staff and strategic allies such as VPs from your lines of business, marketing, and the corporate social responsibility (CSR) office -- who can drive buy-in, promotion, and even funding, Forrester suggests.

Get this right and IT can lead the business on environmental issues, claims Washburn.

"While the rampant growth in IT's energy use needs to be addressed, it pales in significance when compared with that consumed by office buildings and industrial facilities.

"As improved energy measurement and management technologies proliferate, IT can play a major role to reduce companywide energy consumption as the energy czar -- a term coined by the Uptime Institute and McKinsey & Company.

Since reduced energy use offers tangible environmental and financial savings -- unlike more discrete IT projects -- the energy czar is a role that IT ops executives will proactively begin to take ownership of."

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