The Power of Green

By Alison Diana  |  Posted 2008-07-30 Print this article Print

Saving the world starts with saving a dollar—and I.T. is doing its part.

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Green Incentives
Some companies’ green initiatives are driven by corporate consciousness and a sense of responsibility to the community. In its Statement of Ethics, Wal-Mart requires that associates comply with all relevant environmental laws, reduce waste and appropriately dispose of toxic or hazardous materials, and respect the environmental rights and interests of the communities in which they are located. The largest retailer in the world also mandates the use of ISO 14001, a series of environmental management standards developed and published by the International Organization for Standardization.

Other local, national and global initiatives help organizations decrease their negative impact on the environment. In June, the Climate Group—a global nonprofit organization designed to build public-private partnerships to resolve climate-change problems—unveiled the U.S. portion of the “Together” campaign, which helped British consumers save 522,000 tons of CO2 and more than $200 million on household energy bills.

And the private sector is not alone in implementing environmental programs. As part of a drive to conserve energy, the city of Las Vegas joined the campaign and is networking with other cities to develop innovative ways to promote sustainability and lessen negative impacts on the environment. In December, 2007, it was named American City of the Year by the World Leadership Forum, primarily due to its leadership in sustainability, such as running 90 percent of city vehicles on alternative fuels, according to the international group.

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Las Vegas is also part of the Green Grid, a global consortium that advances energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. “The city joined the consortium because we realized that this sustainability issue is not just one thing,” Marcella says. “It’s not just hardware. It’s not just applications, and it’s not just people.”

By 2015, federal agencies must reduce energy consumption by 30 percent, according to INPUT, a Reston, Va., research firm. This, combined with rising energy costs and the need for more technology, will drive the green IT market, the firm says. Requirements are spreading to local and state government, too. Las Vegas, for example, has a green provision in its purchase orders. “It has to be incorporated in everything we do,” Marcella says.

Some businesses are already seeing a dollar return on their green initiatives, while others look forward to reaping rewards. Rotech, a Winter Park, Fla., provider of home medical equipment, estimates that heating and cooling account for about

95 percent of its electric bill and anticipates healthy savings after it virtualizes another 15 racks in late summer. “At that time, I want to look at the power usage and compare it with 12 months ago and 24 months ago,” says Marlin Clark, Rotech’s director of information systems technology. “It will be interesting to see the difference.”

Some organizations enjoy both tangible and intangible benefits from their environmental programs. “Our green initiatives were designed to reduce power consumption and save on energy costs, but we have received positive press and recognition because of it,” says The Planet’s Lowenberg.

Whatever the driver for reducing IT’s environmental impact, the benefits could stretch far beyond corporate profits, reaching into the lives of a generation that is just now tuning into the Muppets and the plights of a certain green frog.

Alison Diana is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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