Canada lags Asia and Europe in green IT adoption

North America is straggling behind Europe and Asia when it comes to green IT implementations, according to an Info-Tech research study that was released recently.

North American respondents are also more laissez-faire when it comes to their carbon footprints, said the study, which culled its December 2007 answers from over 2,000 respondents, almost half of whom are in the IT field. One-fifth of them labeled climate change as meriting a low to minimal level of concern.

Seventy-five per cent of the Asian respondents, for instance, had already implemented shut-off policies for unused computers, while only 35 per cent of the North American respondents had.

This is representative of the report’s major finding, which is that almost double the amount of Asian respondents had already adopted major green IT initiatives (such as green RFPs that require energy efficiency).

One of the reasons why Asia is so advanced is its lack of built-in infrastructure, according to Info-Tech Research research consultant Aaron Hay, who said that their IT staff can implement green strategies from the beginning because they’re not working with 15-year-old equipment and data centres.

Said Chris Pratt, a strategic initiatives executive with IBM Canada: “Our legacy infrastructure dictates our constraints in this area.”

Another reason is the differing fuel situations, said Pratt. “It’s not as comparable with North America because, until recently, fuel has always been cheap and plentiful there. There wasn’t a compelling business case for it,” he said.

Europe fell somewhere between Asia and North American attitudes, said Hay. This could be attributed to energy costs as well, said EDS Canada CTO Dave Woelsle, since energy has always been more expensive in Europe. The continent is also governed by stricter regulations when it comes to eco-friendliness.

Hay foresees a more noticeable change towards a more widespread uptake of green IT in the next few years. And, according to Woelsle, it will come in a piecemeal fashion, as people tend to retrofit “to save a few bucks here and there rather than ripping everything out and replacing it.”

Instead of seeing North America as lagging behind Asia, Pratt said that this state of affairs is merely the usual way of things. “The newer technologies will be even better. They started earlier, but ours will be more advanced. We’ll catch up quicker—it’s the leapfrog effect,” he said.

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