Year in review: Green IT

Has the bloom gone off the green rose?

2008 continued to yield eco-themed stories, and IT vendors eager to cash in on the sustainability trend. We reported on everything from server consolidation and virtualization to asset recycling and buying renewable energy certificates—read on to decide for yourself what Canadian companies are legit…and which ones are just greenwashing you.

Canadian companies have been stepping up to plate to help other businesses get greener. There’s the Toronto-based Zerofootprint, Inc. and the Ottawa-based ClimateCHECK, who are helping companies track their enviro-success, along with the Think Green Alliance , a group of high-powered companies that want to help companies think harder about ways to become more eco-conscious.

IT managers should take note—many experts are suggesting that helping the business go green can increase the cred of the IT department once the cost savings and goodwill start rolling in. Cisco Systems Inc. CEO John Chambers suggests forming a partnership with the city as a way to publicly show company support of a greener IT landscape.

Taking a baseline of your energy expenditures and eco-no-no’s first is a good way to start—that way, you’ll have a good foundation for what comes next: the business case.

It’s important that IT managers have their business caseat the ready, and be able to explain exactly where the cash savings will come from. (One approach is to try tying it to service-oriented architecture (SOA).)

IT managers could also help lead the way in changing the company cultureabout functioning green: one of the issues we heard about in 2008 was the question of how best to effect the culture shift necessary to go greener.

Want to really set your company apart? One area that Canada is lagging in is its IT asset recycling . Many companies find it time-consuming and expensive to dispose of their old hardware in an environmentally friendly way, but small strides are being made—the Toronto Transit Commission, for instance, resells their old stuff on eBay, and keeps their PCs around for longer than the enterprise norm.