Using Green IT to Practice What We Preach

Businesses, government agencies, and non-profits who advocate green, sustainable, or environmentally responsible behavior are most credible when practicing what they preach. Cultural factors, including perceived entitlements, can be barriers. Here are some examples, courtesy of Computerworld, of organizations which used Green ICT tactics to align their internal behavior with their external message.

"For decades, [AEC company Perkins+Will Inc.]'s devotion to what it calls 'sustainability' was driven by its clients' desires for workspaces that were kind to the senses as well as efficient in their use of power and water. But there wasn't a comprehensive green program for internal functions, says CIO Richard Nitzsche. . . . Developed a Green Operations Plan focused on office energy use that encompasses six areas: transportation, office water use, office energy use, office consumables, indoor air quality, and office renovations and new construction."[1]

Snohomish County Public Utility District "officials realized that just as important as the utility's environmental conservation efforts was the need to set an example for the community . . . With the big picture in mind, the PUD cleaned its own house first with tactical steps to reduce energy use. Desktop operations quickly emerged as the area most likely to yield the highest savings." [2]

It's easier urge others to change when we've overcome cultural resistance in our own organizations. "[S]ome resistance to green initiatives is to be expected, [Wellpoint's Mark Boxer] says. 'A lot of the improvements are about removing entitlements,' he says. 'Does everyone need a printer in their office? Does everyone need to travel to meetings? Moving away from these mind-sets requires very senior sponsorship.'  Frank Gens, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., says IT must have support from the business units to overcome user resistance. 'It's hard for IT to drive that kind of cultural change on its own,' he says. 'That's a losing hand for the CIO.'" [3]

[1] Read Computerworld's P+W case study for the full story.
[2] Read Computerworld's PUD case study for the full story.
[3] Read Computerworld's Wellpoint case study for the full story.

Customer Responsibilities

Customers specifying future needs have a responsibility to think carefully about that they are asking for and to work closely with suppliers on trade-offs. A colleague working for a media equipment manufacturer sent me this note.

We are currently getting a lot of green requests/demands from our largest UK customers in terms of what needs to be designed in for the future. Script from them goes as follows:

We are getting concerned about energy efficiency – please design lower power boxes.
You must include [feature X] in all your boxes – which means a chunky [component Y] – which means going from 300 to 500 watt supplies.
We have new energy efficiency goals for the future. New products must use half the power of the current ones.
All new products must be able to do [feature Z] – which means more processing – which means 800 watt supplies!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.