Sep 28 2010

Beyond Technology

IT leaders share advice on launching green IT projects:

· Think about green IT in terms of business value rather than environmental benefit.

"This isn't always about squeezing more efficiency out or avoiding spending on energy. Sometimes it's about being able to look up data or process requests faster," says Greg Schulz, founder of the Server and StorageIO Group IT consultancy. "Always tie what you're doing back to the business, and you'll get to the environmental benefit."

· Start with a green project that will be easy to accomplish and provide value to IT.

"Easier first steps make subsequent changes and willingness to take action more likely," says Julie Weiss, environmental specialist for the city of Palo Alto, Calif.

· Work with your vendor on green initiatives.

This goes beyond buying Energy Star–certified or EPEAT-rated products, Weiss says. It's also about working with IT vendors to reduce plastics and packaging, she adds.

For example, Palo Alto meets with its desktop manufacturer, HP, on a quarterly basis to talk about ways it can reduce packaging and help with the city's recycling efforts. One result: Palo Alto now receives desktop shipments in bulk on pallets rather than as individually packaged units, says Lisa Bolger, IT manager for the city. Also, HP now delivers products packed with less expanded plastic, using molded pulp instead.

· Find a champion that can deliver your green message widely.

In Illinois, for example, the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) partnered with the Illinois Green Governments Coordinating Council (GGCC) when it realized the benefits to be gained by using multifunction imaging devices rather than individual copiers, fax machines, printers and scanners, says Christine Cegelis, assistant director for CMS. The GGCC had the governor's backing and the ears of 14 state agencies, which was crucial in spreading CMS' green IT mission, she adds.

Go here to read five strategies for moving toward energy-efficient computing.

· Spread the green IT word to the broader community.

In Santa Monica, the IT team has started to educate businesses and residents about how to implement the same PC power management technologies the city uses itself to dramatic benefit, says Jory Wolf, CIO for the California city.

"We've already done a couple of public orientations, and we plan on doing more," he says. Plus, IT has published information on how to achieve green efficiencies through a community newsletter as well as in materials for business customers, he adds.

"PC power management can be applied in the home and in businesses. This should be done in all institutions, be those hospitals, schools, colleges, universities -- anywhere that has office equipment, especially desktop computers."