The ROI of green IT

A look at a few of the green-technology projects that, at the right organization, could deliver an impressive ROI

There's no question that some companies pursue green solutions because it's the right thing to do. But plenty of them also do it for the cost savings.

Thus, I'm continually surprised by the persistent assumption that being environmentally conscious and fiscally smart are at odds with one another.

Talking about the state of America's lagging economy, a guest on NPR recently suggested that the looming recession should compel organizations to abandon green IT initiatives. He essentially dismissed green efforts as "feel-good" projects that don't do much to help an organization's bottom line in the short- or midterm.

Apparently, this fellow wasn't alone in missing the potential connection between adopting green-tech practices and reducing expenses: a roundtable discussion on Wednesday was built around this astonishing (to me, anyway) premise: "Green IT initiatives are primarily to help improve the global environment rather than our balance sheets. While organizations may join the bandwagon for visibility, do they really care about it, given that there is not a significant tangible ROI on related investments?"

The fact of the matter is, many -- not all, but many -- green-technology investments positively affect the bottom lines of the companies that make them. After all, the very purpose of such projects is to reduce energy consumption and other costly waste at an organization. These steps then result in environmentally friendly benefits, such as a smaller carbon footprint and fewer squandered natural resources.

Another plus: It's not hard to measure the financial benefits of green-technology investments. They offer predictable, measurable financial benefits. If, for example, you find you'll be able to unplug a third of your servers or reduce paper and ink usage by 40 per cent, you can plug some numbers into Excel for a quick prediction of how much money you'll save.

Many datacenter operators foresee running out of space and power in their datacenters in the not-too-distant future. Pursuing a well-planned green-tech initiative today could serve not only to lower energy costs but to allow for future growth when the economic tide turns.

Still not sure if green means business? Peruse these examples of green-technology projects and investments that, in the right organization, will likely yield cost savings while delivering environmentally friendly benefits.

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