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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Current State of Green IT

Almost three in five executives interviewed by CFO Research Services said that their company devotes at least five percent of its IT budget for green projects. Over one-third said their company allocated 15 percent or more to green IT projects. However, one in five did not know how much of their company’s budget is spent on green projects. The survey was published as a report titled, The Next Wave of Green IT.

The majority of executives said their companies took early steps to “lessen their environmental impacts. ” Over nine out of ten companies made “incremental” or “aggressive” steps to lessen the environmental impacts. Two-thirds said their company has a formal program in place to monitor and measure its environmental performance. Over 90 percent said their company has taken “aggressive” or “moderate” steps to improve its environmental performance.

According to the respondents, in order for companies to have a more “structured approach” to Green IT policies, they will need to overcome:

  • A lack of information and trusted practices (44 percent)
  • The inability to build a solid business case for green IT investments (42 percent)
  • Shortage of capital and well qualified talent (41 percent)

The respondents expressed concerns for future risks. Fifty-six said that “decreasing the impact of energy market volatility on company operations and performance” is very important. The majority said “reducing exposure to environmental liabilities” and “improving compliance with environmental regulations” are very important. Fifty-nine percent identified “cultivating public perception of their company as ‘green’ and environmentally sound” as very important.

When asked where companies discussed their environmental performance with the “outside world,” respondents said:

  • Their annual report (62 percent)
  • Their annual meeting (54 percent)
  • A corporate social responsibility report (50 percent)

The report put respondents into two categories in order to “confirm the utility of a formal program” that measures environmental performance:  67 percent whose company had a program, and 33 percent whose company does not. Companies who have a formal program are “far more likely” to discuss Green IT projects in their annual report and at their annual meeting.

When asked if their company had quality information on IT’s environmental impact, 52 percent said their company has “complete, accurate, timely information,” and 40 percent said their company does not.

The next steps for companies who want to be part of the next wave of green IT are:

  • Establish a baseline measurement of current sustainability performance that is satisfactory for both IT and finance
  • Calculate the cost of carbon and what is at stake from the perspectives of fi nance, operations, and risk management
  • Align the enterprise’s tax strategy with its sustainability strategy and green investments
  • Determine what type of sustainability information is likely to be needed to measure progress at both the macro and business-unit levels
  • Assess whether or not that information currently exists
  • Evaluate the capabilities of current IT systems to measure, monitor, and report on sustainability criteria

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