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September 3, 2010

Don’t say green, say efficient IT – it’s less ridiculous

Once again, reality seems determined to confound my fondest prejudices. It turns out that I now have to add to my list of nah-can't-bes the definitely surprising idea that the UK has emerged as the leading nation for green IT adoption

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Once again, reality seems determined to confound my fondest prejudices. It turns out that I now have to add to my list of nah-can’t-bes, along with the fact that some people think prominent politicians’ private relationships have something to do with their ability to run the country, the definitely surprising idea that the UK has emerged as the leading nation for green IT adoption.

Before you get all carbon-friendly huffy, let me explain my surprise. If it hadn’t already been invented by someone cleverer and quicker than your humble correspondent, I’d have tried to trademark the term ‘greenwash’ long since. Why? Because it just so brilliantly encapsulates all the hype, sanctimonious claptrap and good old devious marketing that has gone in the Sacred Name Of Green the past four to five years.

This was borne out particularly clearly when in a recent data-gathering exercise I grew so fed up with supplier spokespeople droning on about their green products I asked them to show me which page in the catalogue held such items – and found, to a man, not one could so supply.

Yet a new global study of CIOs from key territories like the UK, US, Australia and India carried out by Fujitsu – the so-called Green IT Index, no less – to allegedly determine the progress being made by IT departments on issues such as data centre energy efficiency and smart management of PC fleets and peripherals has found that we Brits have pipped those energy-squandering Yanks into second place – and even shown those sports-lucky Oz types how to save the planet via hotter server rows and what have you. (A total of 638 responses were received across the four countries.)

The UK is said to be particularly innovative in the areas of more efficient data centre management, networking, communications, cloud computing and end user efforts like computers and printers. All in all the UK comes out with an overall Green IT Index of 61.0 – down to us having the most stringent carbon reduction and carbon reporting regimen of any of the countries plus awareness of Green IT is higher than in other countries polled.

In any case, the report’s authors attribute Albion’s comparatively high performance to the importance placed on carbon reporting and reduction by the UKMG. (As no-one has as yet taken a blind bit of notice of CRC, not quite sure what to make of that.)

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Sorry – that scepticism is probably too innate, but I promise to try and restrain it. But many will be genuinely cheered by statements like this from Alison O’Flynn, global executive director of sustainability at Fujitsu: "Tomorrow’s business leaders will be leaders in sustainability; they will understand the importance of an integrated sustainability strategy… IT has a fundamental role to play in enabling change and must step up to face this significant global challenge."

The Index says we still have a long way to go. There’s little awareness out in the field yet, it claims, on the subject of gathering metrics on an IT department’s energy use and it worries that responsible practices for procurement and disposal are largely ignored around the world, although in regions where there are regulations governing IT’s life-cycle impacts, performance on this scale is generally stronger.

Teasing aside – of course greener IT is important, but I’d rather that we just called it ‘more energy efficient’ IT as that would take away this nebulous aura of right-on-ness. The UK is best at this I suspect because we are hard-headed business people who want to pay the power company less money – and that’s good enough for me.

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