Protecting the green IT message

Lowering carbon emissions and achieving energy efficiency may require radical changes in an organization, but the World Wildlife Fund is all for leading by example.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--As much as technology contributes to the energy problem, it is also very much a part of the solution, industry players said Monday at the Global Green IT 2008 conference held here.

Richard Hodges, CEO of consultancy firm GreenIT, pointed out that technologies are in place today for enterprises to go green. The journey, though difficult for some at the beginning, is increasingly becoming a necessary one, he added.

Hodges noted that going green could involve radical changes in processes and mindsets within the enterprise. "We need to be in the business of rethinking how we do things," he said.

Greg Smith, vice president and CIO of the World Wildlife Fund, echoed Hodge's sentiments, as he shared some of the organization's green initiatives. Besides protecting the environment and the various species in the ecosystem, WWF's mission also included leading by example, he said.

Among the more "extreme" measures the organization--or Smith in his capacity as CIO--has taken, are removing single-sided printing for its network printers, discontinue the purchase of CRT monitors in favor of LCD monitors that are more energy efficient and contain fewer toxic materials, instilling flexible work schedules to accommodate video-conference meetings across different time zones, and offering prizes to staff that demonstrate the ability to manage their disk space usage well.

WWF has a dedicated team that looks at green strategies and their deployment within the organization, said Smith. Its strategy has been to approach green from both the user and the IT department's perspective.

World Wildlife Fund's roadmap to green success

1. Perform an audit that includes systems in place, energy usage, printing costs and cooling requirements for data centers.
2. Establish targets for reductions that make financial and environmental sense.
3. Tap on the range of technologies to achieve the set targets.
4. Measure progress, convey to senior management and seek improvements.

On the user front, the organization does not merely encourage its employees to adopt eco-friendly measures in the corporate environment, but to also "take what we do in the office and extend it into the home", said Smith.

Decisions made on the IT-front are "intentional", with the aim of reducing costs, increasing utilization of IT equipment, and "doing the right thing" for the environment.

Other strategies the non-governmental organization has in terms of "greening" its corporate environment include:

•  Configuring and using power management features of PCs in the office and home, and shut down PCs, monitors and other peripherals such as scanners at night and over weekends;
•  Leveraging video conferencing capabilities across the global network of offices and with partners;
•  Utilizing e-mail, instant messaging and IP (Internet protocol) telephony to communicate and encourage reading online;
•  Insisting on purchasing energy efficient systems, as well as working with eco-friendly vendors; and
•  Extending the lifespan of IT equipment--for example, WWF purchases laptops and desktops with more "far more memory" that typically last five years through an OS refresh, instead of three.

Editorial standards