Green IT strategies stifled by inertia

Energy efficiency is still low on the agenda for some businesses, with recent IBM research finding that many companies fail to monitor IT-related power consumption

Nearly half of IT executives — 42 percent — admit their company does not monitor IT-related energy spending.

A further nine percent don't know, and of those that do monitor it, a quarter have seen their energy consumption increase over the past two years.

The figures come from IBM-sponsored research, which claimed that while green issues might have a high profile within companies, few businesses have anything close to a proper strategy for dealing with it from an IT perspective.

But the research warned that rising energy costs and power-hungry technology mean these IT issues will continue to climb the corporate agenda — in the US, for example, servers and data centres accounted for 1.5 percent of the country's total electricity consumption in 2006, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

More than half of executives polled said their company does not measure the environmental impact of its IT systems and policies, and just one-third said they do. While two-thirds said their organisation has a board-level executive responsible for energy and the environment, only 45 percent of businesses have a programme in place to reduce their carbon footprint. And the majority of those that have a strategy don't have any specific targets for it.

Reliability, price and after-sales support are still the biggest factors when making IT purchases, the research found, with only 12 percent of 213 chief information officer respondents saying the energy efficiency of IT equipment is a critical purchasing criterion.

Dell recently committed to making its worldwide operations carbon neutral. This will involve energy efficiency, using renewable power and offsetting the remaining impacts.

It said the plan involves emissions created by electricity use and facility heating and cooling. The company will also offset the emissions impact of employee business travel.