INTOUCH : Green IT – Low on the Business Agenda

Beyond recycling and energy-efficient light bulbs, two-thirds of New Zealand businesses are struggling to act sustainably, according to research into ‘Green IT’ in New Zealand carried out by IBM and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development (NZBCSD).
New Zealand businesses are lagging behind the rest of the world in making IT key part of their sustainability programmes – with only 39 percent of those who actually have sustainability strategies, including IT infrastructure in this. This compares with measure of 61 percent for Australian organisations.
“With 30 percent of New Zealand companies citing energy as the fastest-growing business cost, businesses of all sizes should be concerned with controlling the power consumption of IT equipment to reduce their overheads and carbon footprint,” according to Andrew Fox, IBM New Zealand’s systems and technology group manager.
“The research findings clearly show that New Zealand businesses are not leveraging substantial cost-saving opportunities from existing Green IT solutions available in the New Zealand market,” he said.
NZBCSD chief executive Peter Neilson agrees, saying while recycling and lighting have been popular because people’s awareness and understanding of the concept and environmental benefits is high, “too few New Zealand businesses are aware of new computing approaches that offer similarly practical ways to save energy, money and reduce the environmental impact”.
The most common reason New Zealand IT managers had for reducing emissions from IT was to reduce costs (45 percent), while 62 percent of Australian IT managers sought to reduce IT emissions out of concern for the environment.
The research also suggests that people consider the environment at home but less so at work. Over 70 percent of respondents consider the environment when making household purchases but only 48 percent say environmental considerations impact their procurement and decision-making when making business purchases. However, IBM’s Fox believes environmental impact will soon be standard procurement criterion across IT and other industries. key driver for this is the government’s initiative for six core government departments to be carbon neutral by 2012, with other departments to follow, and the mandate this creates for all businesses working with the government sector.
Half of the New Zealand organisations surveyed have made some operational changes to reduce their environmental impact or energy costs in the last 12 months, and while 54 percent of senior managers report that their company has an environmental or sustainable development strategy, only 21 percent of all respondents are aware that their organisation has such strategy.
“Increasingly procurement will be based on organisation’s sustainability credentials so we need to raise the awareness of business to this trend. These attributes will enable organisations to attract new clients and retain existing ones both domestically and internationally. Getting this right will mean we can play and win in the global economy,” said Neilson.

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