Technology vendors are missing out on billions of dollars by only focusing on improving energy efficiency, instead of carrying out detailed green accounting.
Enterprise will spend around $595bn (£293bn) on environmental accounting services by 2015, according to S2 Intelligence. The research firm predicted the money will be spent on systems to properly capture and report carbon-footprint data, such as monitoring fleet cars' travel patterns and offices' electricity consumption, in order to satisfy government regulation, customers and trading partners.
"At the moment, a lot of the carbon reporting is meaningless," Bruce McCabe, managing director of S2 Intelligence told ZDNet.com.au, because it is not gathered from quantitative information generated by sensors or measuring devices.
Companies are just "putting out things to make their shareholders feel nice", McCabe added.
However, the days of loose standards will come to a close in the next few years, according to McCabe.
At some point, in order to export to the EU or China, enterprises will have to show compliance with green standards, McCabe said, presenting a "massive opportunity" for IT firms, who will be able to supply "everything from instrumentation to monitor consumption to compliance software".
Companies are already looking for software and service-integration packages, according to McCabe. Ford, for example, has engaged LogicaCMG to measure the carbon footprint of its operations.
"Why isn't every IT services company pushing a line of business there?" McCabe asked. "Even the SAPs and the Oracles should be promoting this."
As long as the planet is really doing what scientists think it is, the market will definitely be there, McCabe said. "The only risk is if you don't believe global warming is happening."