Hats off to Google…I’ve been around a while now and I’ve never seen what has so quickly grown into such a large, influential organization be so openly idealistic, agile, innovative and committed, not only to green tech but to corporate social and environmental responsibility in general. Better yet, leading IT companies in general are making real and substantial commitments to becoming more energy efficient, reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, and minimizing pollution. It’s a good thing and it couldn’t come at a better time as by instituting such change transnational IT industry leaders can blaze a clean and green tech trail in developed and developing nations alike.
There’s a lot to “green” in the global IT industry, however. And we’re going need to reliable, accurate, timely and comprehensive carbon and environmental business monitoring, accounting and reporting if market mechanisms are to function and capital is to be allocated effectively, as has been pointed out in previous posts. Released in August, 2006, Greenpeace’s quarterly “Guide to Greener Electronics”report “has shamed many companies — Apple, in particular — by pointing out their less-than-environmentally friendly practices, such as using toxic materials in products and offering inadequate or no e-waste recycling, disposal or take-back programs,” as pointed out in a TechNewsWorld article.
Fortunately, technological advances, increasing public awareness in countries around the world and new domestic and international government incentives and programs, coupled with green and clean tech’s rising prominence on the corporate agenda is creating a business environment in which companies are increasingly able to reduce costs and create new business opportunities by re-fashioning themselves into leading clean and green tech proponents.
Adapt or Die
Greenpeace’s latest “Guide to Greener Electronics” report finds Microsoft, Nintendo, Philips and Sharp at the bottom of the environmental performance rankings. “The reasons range from too long a time line for the elimination of toxic chemicals and poor takeback policies (Microsoft), to no timeline for toxic chemicals elimination and no e-waste policy (Philips), to actively lobbying in the U.S. for regressive takeback policies (Toshiba),” according to TechNewsWorld.
Occupying the top 5 spots on Greenpeace’s list are Sony Ericsson and Samsung with 7.7 out of a possible 10 points, Sony, Dell and Lenovo. Toshiba, LGE and Fujitsu-Siemens also make the top 10 and follow with 7-point scores.
Further evidence of the increasing importance green energy and clean tech initiatives in the IT industry can be found in the latest edition of Cisco and CEO John Chambers’ “Executive Thought Leadership” series. Entitled “Why IT Must Take a Lead in Greening the Enterprise,” lists and examines a range of ways corporate CIOs (chief information officers) help foster and drive clean and tech initiatives forward by “embracing both new cost issues and new opportunities.”
The article notes that it is fast becoming a situation of “adapt or die” when it comes to the impetus for corporations to reduce their carbon footprints and contribute to mitigating the effects of climate change. “The spotlight is focused remorselessly on the role of technology in accelerating or mitigating climate change. As IT consumes a higher proportion of the enterprise energy budget, it is subject to more intense scrutiny. ‚ÄòGreen IT’ is now a critical issue, both in itself and as a key enabler of new environmental imperatives within the enterprise. Environmental sustainability in IT can no longer be treated as an optional extra or a PR plus point. It is becoming a fundamental business driver.
“They can start by setting targets for the IT contribution to electrical efficiency, recycling, cutting down business travel, managing equipment lifecycles, and adding sustainability to selection criteria for equipment, services and vendors. The ultimate aim is to tackle the much more challenging issues of sustainable IT and sustainable business. In short, say some, it is a case of adapt to climate change or die.”
IT: the Information Nexus
Good data and information have always been the lifeblood of any organization. That’s only become abundantly clear with the tremendous strides and evolution of the IT industry over the last few decades. Moreover, in addition to the huge environmental impact of producing IT products, the need to capture and process ever greater amounts of data faster has meant that IT has become a larger and larger consumer of energy.
“Data centre power consumption is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of seven per cent, and, by 2009, electricity costs are expected to balloon from 10 to 30 per cent of the entire IT budget,” Cisco notes. “The CIO is central to the drive for greener IT and greener business. As IT has grown in importance and scale, the CIO has become responsible for a progressively larger share of enterprise energy costs.”
“As the personal touch point between business initiatives launched by the CEO and the right technological tools to implement them, the CIO is pivotal to the efforts of each enterprise in meeting new targets, both regulatory and market-driven. In doing so, the CIO is in a position to create a showcase environment that will enhance the company’s reputation as an environmentally responsible organization.”
Cisco also notes the necessity and importance of instituting rigorous carbon and environmental data gathering, accounting and reporting mechanisms. “This means carbon accounting will need to be progressively integrated by the CIO into an already complex portfolio of business priorities, starting with simple spreadsheets to include electrical power needs, road mileage and air miles alongside expenses and financial returns.
“As carbon account planning matures into a natural complement to fiscal account planning, the CIO will be a key enabler for cultural change towards a company policy that integrates green factors into all its daily activities. No CIO can afford to ignore the issue. CIOs need to start now to ensure that IT is a key player in the process.”