Green Me Up, Scotty

Emily Antonico, Risk and Business Advisory Manager
September 2012

“It’s not easy being green” isn’t just a phrase oft repeated in pop culture; it’s a real-life situation that many businesses are facing as they take on the task of implementing greener practices in the face to operational needs and constraints.  One way a company can do this is to “Go Green” with their IT practices.

What is Green IT?
Done right, Green IT encompasses IT practices that are BOTH environmentally friendly and cost-effective.  These objectives can often be achieved without completely rebuilding existing IT systems.  Another way to think about Green IT is in terms of “cradle to cradle” versus “cradle to grave” systems.  This way, processes are carried out with regard to how they can be used again after their original purpose is fulfilled.  Green IT needs to be a firm-wide initiative and while there is no blanket approach for Green IT; it can easily be adapted to fit each business’s individual needs.

Why go Green?
There are many tangible and intangible benefits to using greener IT, including cost-savings, reduction in energy consumption, and being socially responsible. There are significant cost savings to be had by recycling and reusing old hardware and devices.  A company can continue to use hardware past its prime by utilizing virtualization and running software on both a new machine and the old “virtual” machine.  One intangible and hard to measure benefit of greener IT is the goodwill that comes from being socially responsible.  By implementing meaningful Green IT practices, a company can show shareholders and potential customers that it cares about more than just its bottom-line, and that can go a long way towards customer retention and the acquiring of new customers. Companies should be wary of “greenwashing” and trying to appear to be environmentally friendly without actually implementing green practices.

What can YOU do?
As mentioned previously, there are a few key things a company can do to move towards greener IT practices.  These include:

  • Converting systems to a more energy conserving structure
    • Aisle containment in data centers (i.e. hot/cold aisles)
    • Automatic lighting
    • Settings to reduce power load over the weekend
  • Using alternative sources of power where feasible; can you obtain your power from a more environmentally-benign source?
  • Managing computer energy consumption through a program that tracks usage and works to make usage more efficient.  Tracking when power is used, and by what devices, is the first step in finding ways to do more with fewer resources
  • Recycling e-waste such as hardware and printer cartridges in a secure and responsible way

Green IT initiatives need not be implemented all at once, but rather might be taken on an incremental basis finding what works best for the organization.  Over time, initiatives that reduce operational expenses and the total cost of ownership for IT assets will yield strong results to your bottom line.


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