There are three areas other than the data centre where IT can exercise environmental leadership — and get good business results in the process
But what happens if that changes? What if you get word that your company has decided to decrease its environmental impact — to "go green" — in response to increasing pressure from stakeholders, and the threat of government regulation. This is a top to bottom sweep, and you are on notice: start cutting carbon emissions. What do you do?
One thing is clear: Massive efforts to reengineer corporate practices top to bottom overnight are not likely to succeed. Experts say you should approach becoming greener as you would any long-term project: plan out a strategy for where you'd like to go and then start making incremental changes that, over the long run, will get you there. As Mark Buckley, Vice President for Environmental Affairs at Staples, noted an interview published by EPA last year, companies make changes to their environmental impact by focusing on changing corporate culture rather than on creating a "paradigm shift."
Some things that many organizations already do — like reducing infrastructure demands through server virtualization — and some that are less common — such as deploying more effective power and cooling distribution in the data centre — are components of an overall strategy to reduce IT's carbon footprint.
But there are three areas other than the data centre where IT can exercise environmental leadership — and get good business results in the process.
1. Let Desktops Live Longer, and Turn Them Off at Night
According to market research firm IDC (a sister company to CIO.com's publisher), the lifetime for a PC in corporate America is three to four years. If you can extend that lifecycle, you'll contribute more to the environment than you would by ripping out your PC infrastructure to buy new energy-efficient machines. A 2004 study by the United Nations University showed that almost 2 tons of material, including chemicals, water, and fossil fuels, go into building the average desktop PC and monitor. That's more than the weight of the average mid-sized car, and, the study says, accounts for most of the resources and energy consumed over the machine's lifecycle. Meanwhile, many PC components are destroyed when obsolete equipment gets recycled.
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