Under pressure: 10 sources pushing CIOs to go green

Under pressure: 10 sources pushing CIOs to go green

CFOs, utilities top our list of who's driving IT to be more energy efficient

"Those folks who are designing data centers say they want to design the most energy efficient data center in their space," APC's Tuccillo says. "That's pretty much the mind-set."

Companies are also seeing pressure from their customers or potential customers to improve their energy efficiency.

"We're beginning to see a trend where the CEOs of some companies are being asked by some of their customers, like Wal-Mart and others, to adhere to environmental codes of conduct," Intel's Skinner says. "We're just starting to see companies audit carbon footprint, measure it and take steps to reduce it. Then CEOs turn to CIOs and ask the IT department to be an enabler to carbon-footprint reduction. Teleconferencing, telepresence and enabling employees to telecommute help reduce carbon."

8. Generation Y

Pressure gauge reading: 3

Teens and 20-somethings are fired up about environmentalism, and that is increasingly putting pressure on companies to green their operations.

Many CIOs are parents, too, and their kids are learning about global climate change at school. Kids are pushing recycling, switching out light bulbs, and unplugging computers and other electronic devices at night.

CIOs not only feel the pressure from their own kids but from the college graduates they are trying to recruit and the Millennials on their staff.

"College grads who can be selective are selecting their employers by the reputation of the company and how committed it is to environmental practices," Skinner says. "Demographics are on the side of this issue, and IT managers who are on the front lines of hiring out of college will be seeing that."

This is a pressure that CIOs can expect to rise over the next few years.

"When I do recruiting at local universities, I'm usually the most popular guy," Teetzel says. "There's a huge amount of interest in solving the [climate-change] problem. There's a kind of buzz in the next generation."

9. Employees

Pressure gauge reading: 2

C-suite executives are just beginning to see bottom-up efforts from employees to make their companies more environmentally friendly.

Whether they are launching recycling programs or turning off lights at night, employees can exert peer pressure on each other to change wasteful behavior at work.

"What we're observing is a lot of grassroots efforts by employees to create green teams or green IT communities and adopt green practices," Skinner says. "Increasingly, eco-minded employees are taking on initiatives and putting pressure up the leadership chain...Increasingly, the C-suite is being pressured from below."

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