Curbing our energy appetite

CANADIAN IT PROS AND COMPANY HONCHOS GATHERED AT THE ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTER IN TORONTO recently for IDC’s “You, Me, and Green IT” conference to gab about green tech strategies.

The conference got off to a sobering start as IDC analysts Lawrence Surtees and Dave Senf painted a bleak portrait of the tech sector’s North American energy usage. Data centres account for 1.5 per cent of all energy usage in the States, they said, while the ICT industry guzzles 10 per cent of the world’s energy.

Senf said that 86 per cent of CIOs surveyed by IDC recently believed that climate change was real; however, only 66 per cent didn’t think that global climate change would affect their businesses over the next three years.

“This is exerting pressure on the business, and it’s driving a world-wide industrial and economic restructuring,” added Surtees. He said that three-quarters of the businesses surveyed were investing in green IT. Overall, the reasons cited in descending order included cost savings, protecting the environment, supporting corporate values, meeting regulatory requirements, and brand reputation.

When it came to the green-implementation wish-list, the analysts said that companies were crying out for more how-to information, a green IT business case, examples and case studies, and numerical proof that green IT actually helps the environment.

During the following panel, David McLaughlin, CEO of the independent federal organization National Roundtable on the Environment, said that businesses aren’t getting green enough due to a lack of proper inspiration.

He said, “There’s a failure of not having regulations and incentives.” This could leave companies in the lurch once energy legislation comes in. “We’re going to be paying for carbon eventually, so it’s pick your poison.”

The idea of carbon tax could have an effect on the IT manager on the ground, said Senf, but it’s all for the good. “Initially, such a change would increase their workload, and make that change difficult at first, but once that technology – whether it be virtualization storage or just trying to reduce the carbon footprint – is in place, you’re now able to move forward.”

The learning curve can be tough for the users, too. Glen Tai, manager of client support services with the Toronto-based Beverage manufacturer Parmalat Canada, said that even the smallest changes can throw off the users, wreaking havoc on the help desk. — Briony Smith

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