Green IT sits low on Aussie agendas

Big companies are aware of environmental issues but are not actively pursuing countermeasures

Although nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of Australian businesses have an environmental policy or strategy in place covering IT infrastructure, little more than a third (36 per cent) believe that the reduction of carbon emissions from their IT infrastructure is a high priority for their business, according to an IBM study examining the practices and attitudes of large Australian enterprises towards Green IT.

Conducted by ACA Research on behalf of IBM, the survey questioned IT managers and directors in 104 large Australian enterprises. Only 35 per cent of respondents agreed they were aware of current energy usage, suggesting that Australian enterprises are currently unable to track and manage the environmental impact of information technology effectively.

According to the research, those businesses with an environmental policy incorporating IT were more focused on mandating methods of disposal of old IT equipment (40 per cent) rather than reducing energy consumption (32 per cent), although 51 per cent of businesses had mandated a progressive reduction of the overall impact of IT on the environment. However, with fewer than half of the businesses (46 per cent) monitoring energy efficiency, most would be unable to measure progress meaningfully.

Suzanne Kerwan, executive sponsor for the environment at IBM Australia and New Zealand, said: "It's clear from this study that local businesses are concerned about climate change, and are looking for ways to mitigate this crisis. As a leading vendor of technology and services, IBM has a responsibility to help its clients reduce the environmental impact of doing business and, with Project Big Green, we are investing a billion dollars every year to escalate the development of green products and services we offer."

Respondents indicated that the primary drivers for tackling emissions from IT infrastructure were:

  • Environment: The majority of respondents (62 per cent) cited genuine concern for the environment.
  • Corporate reputation: Fifty per cent of respondents said they believed that tackling emissions could favourably influence corporate reputation management.
  • Rising energy costs: More than a third of respondents (39 per cent) were concerned about the increasing cost of energy required to power IT infrastructure.
"This study illustrates that the IT community wants to tackle emissions from IT infrastructure, but in order for such efforts to be effective, the issue needs to climb further up the corporate agenda," said Kerwan. "It's also clear that businesses have much to gain from prioritising green IT initiatives. For example, server utilisation rates are often as low as 10 to 15 per cent in the average data centre, which represents a huge waste of both power and money. By taking just a few simple steps to right-size IT, businesses can make substantial cost savings, enhance corporate reputation, and ultimately make a positive difference to the environment."

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report

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