Green Computing More Hype than Reality

May 20, 2009
Survey indicates corporate sustainability efforts are missing the mark.

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.

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

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, according to Redemtech.

Based on the survey results, Redemtech suggests that companies take five steps to make their green computing programs more sustainable:

  1. Establish a baseline. Then set quantitative sustainability targets. Redemtech offers a free online tool that enables organizations of all sizes to measure their programs against industry best practices.
  2. Review and revise policies. Sound policies create the foundation for sustainable computing, communicate executive-level support and form the basis for standardized operational procedures and consistent execution.
  3. Extend desktop and laptop lifecycles. Creating the systems and relationships required to support longer lifecycles will deliver long-term improvements in IT financial and environmental performance.
  4. Optimize utilization. Maintaining a proper inventory of surplus systems can reduce procurement costs and increase agility, but maintaining too large of an inventory means assets are sitting idle for extended periods losing value. Finding the right inventory levels is essential to increasing utilization.
  5. Create accountability through good governance. Without metrics, there is no way to measure performance and, consequently, no way to optimize programs, quantify benefits or recognize personnel for their performance in this area.

"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," Redemtech President Robert Houghton says. "That requires applying the same processes and discipline to these programs as are used in other areas of the business."

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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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