Incentives pushing Asia's green IT adoption

Governments and IT vendors devise incentive schemes, including co-funded design workshops, to urge organizations and consumers to go green.

As the drive to go green strengthens, incentives are the way governments and IT vendors are encouraging businesses and consumers to adopt technology that is environmentally friendly.

In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has several incentives to encourage organizations in the IT sector to adopt energy-efficient practices and good design, said a spokesperson from the agency.

These include the:

  • Design for Efficiency Scheme (DFE) introduced last year to co-fund design workshops where companies and energy consultants get together on designing facilities such as data centers that are optimized for both function and resource efficiency.
  • Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (Ease), which is a co-funding scheme for IT facilities to employ consultants to undertake energy assessments and identify areas for energy savings.
  • Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies (Greet) that helps to offset the investment cost of energy-efficient technologies.

"We are seeing some interest from IT companies and data center operators to tap on these incentives and we can expect that as the economy picks up and energy prices continue to remain high, there will be more interest," said the NEA spokesperson.

Keeping the industry informed about such incentives and rebates is the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF), which collaborates with government agencies.

An SITF survey done earlier this year revealed that 9 percent of hardware manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, had incorporated green technology into their production processes, products and corporate practices. Those that had not yet done so indicated plans to adopt green technologies within 12 months.

Tom Cheong, managing director for Singapore and Brunei at Cisco Systems, said the company leverages its network to monitor, manage and reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions as well as energy consumption.

Communication technologies such as the company's WebEx and TelePresence allow it to help customers reduce business travel, resulting in smaller carbon footprints, Cheong said.

Globally, the vendor recycles its products by refurbishing and making them available to internal groups throughout the company, Cheong said. Less than 2 percent of the returned equipment goes to landfills.

Similarly, HP encourages consumers to be environmentally friendly, by offering them incentives to return their old products to HP for recycling.

As for Lenovo, the focus is on green when it designs and includes features in its products, said the Ronnie Lee, the company's Singapore country general manager. The vendor also invests in green technology innovation.

Its products are also tested to meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star 5.0 criteria, with over 25 products meeting the standard currently, according to Lee.

The company participates in the Electronics Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) initiative and its ThinkVision monitors, for example, are certified with EPEAT gold.

Green helps companies save
Going green provides companies with cost benefits and this in itself is another major motivator for companies to be environmentally friendly.

Hemant Shah, executive, infrastructure business, systems and technology group, IBM Asean, said: "Rebates and incentives are not as powerful motivators as the increased operational efficiencies and reduction of both operational and capital expenses."

Pete Ekstedt, director of global citizenship, HP Asia-Pacific and Japan, said the vendor observes that a majority of Asia-Pacific consumers and businesses that have adopted green technology are driven by ongoing cost benefits with improved energy efficiency.

Based in Singapore, Konrad Foo is an intern with ZDNet Asia.