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March 10, 2009

IT being side-stepped in carbon management

CIOs must assess carbon accounting software

By CBR Staff Writer

A research group on climate change has warned that CIOs need assess the market for carbon emissions management software if they are to fix the perception that corporate IT is a roadblock rather than an implementation partner for emissions management support systems.

Independent research firm Verdantix has said that businesses and large public sector organisations face increasing pressure from energy costs and climate change regulations to measure, manage and analyse energy and carbon dioxide emissions data. 

But according to Verdantix director David Metcalfe, vendors of carbon counting software will often side-step the IT department and target executives in finance or facilities.

They sell into heads of energy, risk officers, general counsel and finance directors and are increasingly offering carbon management applications delivered on-demand as a software service, he told us.

Carbon emissions software helps organisations improve their carbon management process through the aggregation, accounting, analysis and reporting of energy and carbon dioxide emissions data. 

Metcalfe said carbon management software was definitely something that CIOs should now be looking at, because IT has an important supporting role to play in the corporate sustainability programme. 

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Some companies already have ambitious climate change strategies, with Cisco saying publicly that it intends to cut carbon emissions by 25% between 2008 and 2012, and the supermarket chain of Tesco is working towards the design of its Ecostore which will be 50% more energy efficient that today’s retail unit.

Companies like these need some highly effective management systems and processes in place, Verdantix said. 

Businesses will eventually be required to report on carbon emissions, Metcalfe noted. Without management software in place it will be difficult to comply with rules such as the WBCSD GHG protocol, or to produce benchmarks for energy-consuming assets such as servers and air conditioning units.

“There is a need to make the link between a corporation’s climate change programme and what is happening in IT. I see a need for IT to begin working closely with facilities and I’d also recommend that the CIO should mug up on the development of the intelligent building, and what a company like Cisco is doing in that area.”

Verdantix accepts that economic recession and regulatory uncertainty will hold back spending in 2009, but it fully expects the costs and risks created by new regulations will drive rapid adoption of carbon management software from 2010 onwards. 

The group has assessed the carbon emissions management software market demand in a report which lists application packages from a dozen vendors as systems worth the attention of IT shops.

The suppliers are coming at the carbon emissions segment from very different market positions and include CarbonOps, Carbonetworks, Carbon View (Supply Chain Consulting), Emissions Logic, EIM/Green Cert, Enviance, ESS, Greenstone Carbon Management, IHS/ESP, Verisae and SAS. 

The different packages may have their roots in business intelligence, environmental compliance, data management, supply chain, bespoke development and carbon accounting but purchasers need look for the same key function, Verdantix has suggested. 

The research house said these include energy data aggregation, emissions calculation engines, business intelligence and multi-regime reporting. 


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