This article explains the meaning of green IT in the corporate environment, gives the reasons to do “greener” business and shows how to do that.
In its initial stages, green IT was centred around cost saving, rather than corporate culture. Yet scientists have started to look at it from different perspectives and encourage IT leaders to bring it into their businesses. Implementing green IT practices will give companies not just an ability to save, but also to manage their workplace more efficiently, cut down on power use and become more environmentally friendly.
In simple words, green IT is a system of designing, developing, using and disposing of the technologies related to the systems with minimal harm to the environment – such as carbon dioxide emissions, the use of hazardous materials and the waste of natural resources.
Why bother? – You may ask. Just imagine the difference one person makes when they choose either to throw their litter out of the window or use a litter bin. And now think of the impact that companies can make. Yet we do not talk about litter; we refer to things that also matter a great deal to the global environment.
Green IT makes a difference
Today’s technology needs many natural resources required for hardware manufacturing, processing, and disposing. The lifecycle of modern technology is really short, and we frequently replace old devices with new ones. When businesses make their IT environment and processes green, they reduce resource wastage by cutting down on the use of paper, energy, raw materials.
Unfortunately, green IT awareness is quite low. A recent survey has shown that nearly 40% of European countries don’t follow any data centre energy efficiency strategy and cannot give any estimates about the environmental effects their businesses make. Today’s companies have many more money-saving opportunities than they had a decade ago and which is why they disregard green IT either partially or completely. In the words of Terri Swearingen: “We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to”.
This is why environmentally-aware business owners should first ask themselves: “What can I do to make the earth a safer place to live in?”.
How to migrate to a green IT environment
In 2005, when Intel became concerned about green IT (but rather thought about PC speed and wanted to look innovative), they created dual-core CPUs that could use additional cores to run new processes without using additional power. Your business does not have to go that far. Fortunately, a few easier steps instead could be taken to implement a green IT culture within your business environment:
1) Reduce paper consumption
Encourage staff to think twice before they print pages they don’t actually need. Use printers that print double-sided documents and refill cartridges instead of purchasing new ones.
Choose digital processes over paper forms, marketing materials, faxes. It will not only reduce the paper waste but also simplify your business strategies a great deal.
2) Choose energy-efficient equipment
Where possible, use laptops instead of desktop PCs. They consume less energy and require smaller amounts of materials to manufacture. Avoid noisy and power-hungry devices. Today, there are many portable energy-efficient computers that take very little space (like Zonbu, Fit-Pc, SunRay).
3) Recycle outdated equipment
Equipment lifecycles are getting shorter and shorter, and this increases the need to dispose of old devices. Nearly 70% of equipment is thrown out to landfills instead of being collected for recycling. However, there are many programs and services where you can donate or sell your unnecessary devices.
4) Manage your power responsibly
There is a vast selection of tools that help to control your power supply and thus let you use energy only when you need it. Such tools enable you to switch off the peripheral devices once the main device is off. Or you can find many apps that give you a clear picture of your energy use.
Learn how to use special computer settings that will make your PC change to hibernate or sleep mode when you are away. Activate power management features that will automatically turn your PC off at the end of the work day.
Did you know that there is a new Google-powered search engine called Blackle? It uses a black screen for performing a search and explains it by the fact that a black screen consumes less energy than white.
5) Reduce travelling needs
Save your time and the environment by holding online conferences instead of face-to-face meetings. Calculations show that if every American company replaces just one business trip with a web conference, the US would save 10.5 million tonnes of CO2 yearly, not even mentioning $25 billion of travel costs. Where possible, give employees a chance to work from home.
6) Move to the cloud
Cloud computing is a good way to use technology in an eco-friendly manner. It enables many companies to share single datacentre resources and thus eliminate the need to install and maintain in-house applications. Server virtualisation is one more energy-saving technology. It presupposes running several computer systems on one hardware set.
What to expect from green IT?
Green IT adoption is expected to rise across different business sectors worldwide. New technological environmentally-focused products will appear on the market, and they will go with an array of extra benefits to attract the attention of hard-nosed green IT sceptics. The emphasis on manufacturing eco-friendly computer components will increase until it becomes a norm. The greenest computer we have seen so far has such features as energy-efficiency, recyclability, self-powering, no toxic materials, small size, etc.
“The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it” – Barry Commoner
Fortunately, due to international programs that promote environmentally-friendly practices across a wide array of business areas, we can expect more companies to concentrate on such important things as the planet we live in and not just on their business.