What is Green IT?
Green information technology, or more commonly known as Green IT or Green computing, is the practice of environmentally sustainable computing. Essentially it is the study and practice of using computers and IT resources in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way.
Typically “Green IT” is focused on energy usage and cooling data centers. That’s important, but misses the point of the circular economy, which aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. By extending the life of IT equipment and by recycling the materials, you can provide environmental benefits, not just GHG emissions savings, but also toxins, water, etc. But those aren’t the only benefits. Here we breakdown 5 benefits of Green IT.
Benefits of Green IT
Reduce Environmental Impact and Landfill Waste
Although electronic equipment waste or “E-waste” only makes up a small percentage of our landfills, about 2%, their toxic waste material makes up a significant percentage at nearly 70%! Equally as alarming, only 12.5% of the electronic waste is reused or recycled. In fact, it is estimated that 40% of the heavy metals in U.S. landfills come from discarded electronics. So, what can you do to help avoid or reduce the amount of equipment that ends up in the trash?
The first step in a solid Green IT strategy is reuse. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Green solution than to reuse. Reuse is the best because it extends the life of the equipment, reducing the need to manufacture another one, which reduces the use of natural resources. So, the next time you want or need to upgrade your IT equipment, consider two things:
- Before you buy brand new equipment, consider purchasing refurbished IT equipment. Not only will you get the performance you need, but you’ll get the equipment at a fraction of the cost.
- If you’re looking to dispose of your “old” equipment, don’t just throw it away or give it to a third-party processor who doesn’t have a proven process for refurbishing it properly. There is likely still a lot of life left in that equipment and it could be eligible for reuse/refurbishment.
Related Reading: 7 Benefits of Buying Refurbished IT Equipment
There will come a time that your electronic equipment does reach a point of obsolescence and reuse is just no longer a viable option. Recycling is the second-best option to reuse because it converts the materials back into raw commodities for manufacturing new items, eliminating the need to mine ore from the earth – the most environmentally damaging activity on the planet. In this instance, make sure you’re taking the steps to properly recycle or partner with someone who specializes in ITAD (Information technology asset disposition)
EMBODIED GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS: COMPUTING AND ELECTRONICS PRODUCTS
Image Source: CSS.umuch.edu
By reusing and recycling, you’re requiring the use of fewer natural resources, reducing the amount of equipment that ends up in landfills, thus reducing the toxic waste, and fewer carbon emissions, which creates a smaller carbon footprint overall. That’s important all on its own, but it also shines a favorable light on your company that you’re taking your Green IT practices seriously.
One way to ensure that your equipment is being reused and/or recycled properly is to partner with an ITAD (IT Asset Disposition) vendor. A proper ITAD company will offer refurbishment (reuse), remarketing, recycling, reselling, and can manage the data destruction and even removal of the equipment from your location.
Cost and Energy Savings
One of the more obvious and appreciated benefits of green computing is having lower energy bills. Green IT practices can help you lower your overall power usage. But how? First, start by determining the number of computers, printers, phones, and any other electronic devices you have in the workplace. Next, determine how much energy they each consume. Once you have all of that information, you can determine which are using the most power, and then properly get rid of non-essential items, which will ultimately help reduce your overall power usage, resulting in cost savings on your energy bills.
One of the other benefits of green IT is that having these practices in place can help reduce overall energy consumption. Some examples, according to the Center for Sustainable Systems:
- Energy consumption from office equipment could be reduced by 23% if all of the equipment had and utilized low-power mode.
- If every PC in the world was shut off for just one night, the energy that would save could light the Empire State Building for over 30 years.
- If all printers and desktops were turned off at the end of the night, energy consumption would be reduced even further by 9%
- Data centers consume thousands of times more power than office spaces of equal size.
- When it comes to all energy consumed by businesses, IT equipment accounts for a major proportion.
So by adopting Green IT practices, a trickle-down effect occurs and impacts the overall cost of business operations on a variety of levels. Some companies experience an immediate return on investment of a Green IT initiative, while others see an ROI in 3-6 months. Those savings don’t even touch on some of the other cost and energy-saving measures like virtualization, teleconferencing, and more.
Adopting Green and sustainable practices, even beyond just your IT department, can make your company more marketable and help with your overall brand reputation. Now, more than ever, consumers are more conscious of the environment and the impact they and the people they work with or buy from having on it. Especially if you have sustainable practices in place elsewhere within the company, don’t let your information technology be an area that falls short.
Social media and the 24-hour news cycle have enabled buyers and the media to easily and very publicly promote or criticize companies for their Green IT practices, or in some cases, lack thereof. Improper IT asset disposition can damage your brand, so working with a certified ITAD company is critical to protect your brand and public trust of your company. Your Green IT efforts can help strengthen your reputation and showcase that you’re making strides towards a more environmentally conscious workplace and world.
Customer Attraction and Retention
As mentioned above, Green and sustainable practices can help make your company more marketable. This can help with not only customer attraction but also with retaining current customers. By highlighting your Green IT initiatives, especially to those customers who value those efforts, it can lead to a more favorable outcome for your company when trying to attract new business and keep existing.
The Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report found that 66% of survey respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable goods. With more and more customers becoming increasingly aware of the human impact on the environment and the sustainability issues we face, it’s important that you have practices in place to address these concerns. Especially if your competitors do. And if they don’t, this provides a competitive advantage for you.
While not necessarily an intentional reason for adopting Green IT practices, it is a nice impact. By having Green practices in place, you’re showing your employees that you care about the environment and are taking the necessary steps towards improving it. Sure, recycling bins and community cleanups are great, but showing that you have processes in place across the entire company, proves your commitment to the cause and can help with employee retention and the overall culture. As an added bonus, challenging your IT team to come up with ways to “go Green” in their department, might spur some innovation and new ways of thinking.
Beyond the clear benefits of Green IT, if you have the option to adopt green practices or not, it seems an obvious choice to do so. From lower carbon emissions, cost, and energy savings, to improving customer and employee retention, by cultivating sustainable and green IT practices, this will help your company become more efficient, competitive, and profitable.