Survey: Green Computing Is Long on Hype, Short on Substance

May 4, 2009
According to the preliminary findings of a survey conducted by Columbus, Ohio-based Redemtech, companies are making limited progress toward making their corporate IT programs more sustainable.

Redemtech's "Sustainable Computing Assessment" benchmarks organizations against sustainable best practices in five areas: productivity, reuse, accountability, energy and environmental social responsibility. A score of 75% or better in each category indicates a "mature" green IT program; scores averaged between 32% and 37%.

According to Redemtech, the initial results of the assessment show that "most companies lack holistic policies for promoting all four cornerstones of sustainable computing: extended lifecycles, energy efficiency, utilization and reuse, and responsible recycling."

"Even companies with coherent policies lack the governance needed to ensure that operations are aligned with the sustainability priorities of the business, according to the assessment findings," Redemtech explained in a news release.

The highest scores on the survey were for energy efficiency, which has been a big push for IT professionals and manufacturers in recent years.

Among other key findings:

  • Companies with more than 100,000 employees tended to score the highest, with average results in the 40% range for the five categories. Companies with fewer than 500 employees scored lowest.
  • Larger companies were more likely to have policies on environmentally responsible disposition that prohibit practices such as incineration and exporting e-waste. However, overall, few organizations have written policies on this issue.
  • Few companies have audit systems in place to prevent continued overseas dumping of e-waste. A 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office discovered 43 recyclers in direct violation of the limited regulations that prohibit export of computer monitors.
  • Financial services and banking companies scored the highest, ahead of firms in the education, retail/wholesale and business services/consulting sectors.
  • Low accountability scores indicate that few organizations have established metrics that enable sustainable computing initiatives to be measured and optimized. Scores were especially low among companies with fewer than 10,000 employees.
"In this climate, green IT has to be about more than presenting a nice picture to the market or senior management. It has to be sustainable both environmentally and financially," said Robert Houghton, president of Redemtech. "That requires applying the same processes and discipline to these programs as are used in other areas of the business." Interested in information related to this topic? Subscribe to our Information Technology eNewsletter.
About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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