Western European IT Organisations Will Develop a Green Strategy by the End of 2008

22. 05. 2007 | 5/2007 | Comments [0]

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2008, 50 percent of mid and large sized Western European IT organisations will declare a green imperative as a result of financial, environmental, legislative and risk-related pressures. This compares to less than 20 percent outside of .

50 Percent of Mid and Large Sized Western European IT Organisations Will Develop a Green Strategy by the End of 2008 As U.S corporations struggle to come to terms with theramifications of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry's carbon footprint, Western European members of the European Union (EU) are making the first crucial steps towards embracing environmentally sustainable IT, particularly from a CO2 emissions and legislative point of view. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2008, 50 percent of mid and large sized Western European IT organisations will declare a green imperative as a result of financial, environmental, legislative and risk-related pressures. This compares to less than 20 percent outside of Western Europe.

Last month, Gartner analysts revealed that ICT accounts for two percent of global CO2 emissions, equivalent to the amount produced by the aviation industry.

“European organisations have reacted more quickly to this threat than their U.S counterparts and are on the verge of acting accordingly,” said Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner. “Climate change and e-waste issues are much more visible in Europe because many national governments have been taking high-profile actions that have changed regulations and customer attitudes. In Europe, the environment and climate change are non-divisive issues. In the U.S, although the trend is clear there remain distinctly polarised views. In addition, business leaders in Europe are beginning to see market opportunities emerging from this debate as organisations seek alternative energy sources.”

Examples of steps already taken by European governments include signing the Kyoto protocol and meeting their targets for carbon emission reductions; creating carbon credit trading programmes for the industries that emit the most carbon and developing the following directives: the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS), European Union’s energy using products (EuP) and registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (REACH). The UK and Scandinavian governments are currently taking a leading on carbon emission reductions globally whilst Germany is the frontrunner on reducing e-waste. Gartner said that many Western European IT organisations are already beginning to think green when it comes to purchasing and predicts that more than 40 percent will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying criteria by the end of 2008. This will compare to less than 20 percent of IT organisations outside of Western Europe.“Despite the relatively high levels of awareness among Western European IT organisations, it is far from a level playing field, with environmental maturity varying vastly from industry to industry,” said Mr Mingay. “Among the leading companies in Europe are telecoms organisations, many of whom are already taking steps to reduce their own energy consumption as well as that of their suppliers and customers.” Mr Mingay cited BT as a prime example, highlighting the company’s pledge to incorporate energy consumption and environmental factors into its procurement processes, as well as reducing its own emissions, including conducting a complete audit of the energy consumption of its data centres. He also said that Ericsson has set aggressive targets to cut its energy consumption, focused on life cycle assessments and is determined to play a positive role through advanced communications technology and solutions. “There is strong evidence that European organisations are tackling the first order effects of climate change such as greenhouse gas emissions, e-waste and the use of hazardous substances,” said Mr Mingay.

“The challenge now is to start innovating on the second order which will come from the application of ICT technologies that decrease the need for travel, optimise supply chains from a CO2 perspective and help enterprises reduce the environmental impact of their operations, products or services. There are huge opportunities to make a big difference because of the inefficiencies that currently exist in both the technologies and usage behaviours.”In the U.S., major IT vendors are taking the issue seriously. An example is IBM’s ‘Project Big Green’ announcement earlier this month, indicating that it is redirecting $1 billion per year across its businesses to dramatically increase the level of energy-efficiency in IT.

IBM’s integrated and holistic approach will largely target corporate data centres where energy constraints and costs can limit its ability to grow. Hewlett-Packard and Sun similarly have programmes in place. According to Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner, initiatives like ‘The Green Grid’ show that for data centre power issues at least, U.S. vendors are starting to tackle the issue more collaboratively, and are in fact ahead of most of their client base. “We are seeing a pronounced enthusiasm among U.S. companies to address inadequate data centre power and cooling issues,” he said. “Whilst this is no doubt influenced by the growing awareness of climate change by the business community and population at large, there are also significant financial gains to be had from reducing the amount of energy needed to power data centres.”

Increasing the efficiency of data centre power and cooling is one of 10 crucial action points Gartner recommends for organisations who are looking to promote environmentally sustainable IT.

Gartner’s 10 Crucial Action Points for Greener IT

  • Define an environmental policy
  • Start measuring and analysing
  • Green the staff: socialise the green issue and educate your workforce
  • Dare to switch off after hours
  • Begin the journey from always on to always available
  • Improve efficiency of the cooling in the data centre and factor in green design points into new data centre builds
  • Incorporate environmental criteria into procurement decisions
  • Start assessing your vendors – Beware the ‘green wash’
  • Create equipment disposal policy, process, control and audit trail
  • Be aware of GLOBAL e-waste legislation
  • “The bad news is that regardless of their location, IT organisations and vendors alike need to wake up to the negative impact that the industry is having on the future of our planet,” concluded Mr Mingay. “The good news is that given the current colossal inefficiencies among both vendors and end-users, making a positive difference will be very achievable. We might not see the bio-degradable PC in the near future but we should certainly be working towards power consumption as a standard design criteria and increased worldwide regulation and legislation on hazardous substances and e-waste over the next few years.”


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