Australia missing the benefits of being green

While efforts focused on decreasing the environmental impact of IT are still in the nascent stage, environmental concerns are climbing up the corporate IT and government regulation agenda, according to surveys by Springboard Research.

From a Federal Government perspective Australia lags behind in some respects, and has had a poor reputation for environmental leadership, but it does have the potential for leadership in key areas. There is still a limited awareness of green IT solutions among end-users, partly due to the lack of an adequate push by IT vendors in Australia. Currently, large enterprises in Australia are the biggest consumers of electricity used for computing at 41 per cent, followed by consumer IT users at 32 per cent, and the small/medium enterprise (SME) and small office/home office (SOHO) segment at 28 per cent.

“Computing devices have a significantly large and unrecognized carbon footprint. For example, an average-sized server has the same carbon footprint as a mid-sized 4WD taking 17 liters of fuel to travel 100km,” noted Bob Hayward, research vice-president for Springboard Research. “As companies become more accurate in determining what percentage of energy costs are allocated to the IT department, you will see cost savings become the key driver of green IT investments. Springboard estimates that more than $A837 million per year is spent on powering computers in Australia, with the overwhelming majority of this spending wasted on systems that are in idle mode,” Hayward added.

IT vendors are currently increasing their efforts in the green IT space — both from an altruistic and branding perspective, as well as to improve their bottom lines. Springboard estimated that the largest amount of spending by IT vendors was focused on increasing the energy efficiency of their products (40 per cent of spending). This was closely followed by efforts on recycling and disposal (30 per cent of spending) and manufacturing in a more environmentally friendly way (25 per cent of spending).

“While IT vendors are increasing their spending on green initiatives, IT end-users still have little awareness of what green IT is and how it can help their businesses,” added Phil Hassey, country manager, ANZ, for Springboard Research. “Many end-users in Australia see green IT as just another additional cost and process to endure. They still need to be educated on how it can benefit their organizations. This is where we feel IT vendors have a big opportunity: those that can educate end users on how to be green without increasing their costs or even saving money will differentiate themselves and gain not only increased market share, but also more brand equity in the eyes of their customers.”