Foreword by Robert Houghton vii
1 The Basics of Green Computing 1
2 Legal Mandates for Green 14
3 Business Case for Green Computing 29
4 Energy Usage 54
5 Energy Saving Initiatives 64
6 Advanced Configuration and Power Interface 85
7 Document Management 101
8 Manufacturer Programs 120
9 IT Asset Disposal 130
10 Virtualization 159
11 Data Center 177
12 Virtual Workers 200
13 Green IT Department 220
14 Green Supply Chain 249
Useful Web Sites 265
About the Authors 291
"Green" is a feel-good term. It has positive, earth-friendly connotations, often without much specificity—perfect for marketing purposes. Sustain-ability, on the other hand, is something we can measure and manage. We are sustainable when our use of resources does not permanently deplete or damage our supply, including natural resources, energy, and capital. Corporations that adopt sustainability as their goal will improve not only their environmental impact—achieving truly green results—but their financial outcomes as well.
Of course, electronics can never be absolutely sustainable. Steel, aluminum, copper, petroleum, and a laundry list of other materials that go into manufacturing IT hardware are not renewable resources. Organizations can become significantly more sustainable, though, according to the choices they make around planning, buying, managing, and retiring their IT assets. Greater sustainability almost always correlates with lower total cost of ownership (TCO). It is the high-tech version of the old-fashioned notion of frugality, which is how many organizations rationalize their sustain-ability efforts.
Senior management support over the long run is critical for sustain-ability initiatives, as the ROI horizon is usually at least as long, or longer, than the typical asset lifecycle. Though usually an IT responsibility, sustainable computing also requires ongoing participation from a variety of stakeholders, usually including Security, Procurement, Asset Management, Legal/Compliance, and Environmental/Health & Safety. With everyone around the table, the first step is to define explicit policies and set quantitative goals.
The EPA's cliché, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," is a useful signpost. Every sustainability plan should include provisions for lengthening asset life-cycles, proactive reuse as an alternative to buying new, and responsible recycling. Improved sustainability may be the virtuous consequence of frugal behavior, but in the United States, the opposite is true where recycling is concerned. Though every other industrialized country has ratified international law forbidding the export of hazardous materials to the developing world, in the United States, it is still perfectly legal to ship toxic-laden e-waste for processing in low-wage countries where environmental and worker safety laws are lax. Exporting will be cheaper—in monetary terms— than proper recycling, but the consequent environmental and human health damages are enormous. Since virtually every electronics recycler claims to be responsible, companies must choose service providers with the highest reputation for integrity and transparency to avoid becoming complicit in this toxic trade.
Even well-designed sustainability initiatives will falter without good governance. After initial policies and objectives are set, it is important to measure results and hold individuals accountable for achievement of goals. Fine tuning of policies and procedures is always necessary. As progress is made, recalibrate and set new goals. Regardless of the starting baseline, continuous, incremental improvement is the best strategy for moving an IT organization toward lasting sustainability.
As progress is made, communication of the good news—up, down, sideways, inside and out—is important to maintaining the budgetary and moral support necessary for an ongoing sustainability program. The metrics should be designed to quantify and support both the financial business case, and to tell the human interest side of the sustainability story too. Make sure all direct stakeholders are completely informed. Tell the end users; tell the Board; tell the shareholders and alert the media. Ultimately the mindset required for sustainable practices must become part of the organization's culture, reinforced at an individual level, and viewed as part of the company's strategic strength. It's just good business.
Robert Houghton is President of Redemtech, a leading provider of Technology Change Management services to global companies (http://www.redemtech.com).
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