When 'Going Green' Makes Business Sense

Companies find they can help the environment and their bottom line at the same time.
This story appears in the December 2009 issue of BizTech Magazine.
Maria Sullivan Vice President of Business Sales, CDW

Smart business owners know that going green can improve their company’s public image and make a sizable dent in their energy bills.

In its 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report: The Power of Prioritization, CDW found that organizations are doing more today to improve energy efficiency in IT, compared with 2008, and as a result are realizing significant energy savings.

CDW found that IT executives who are responsible for the IT energy bill tend to take a long-term view. They are twice as likely to place a higher value on the energy efficiency of their purchases, compared with those executives who do not own the IT power bill.

The results from the survey of 752 IT professionals in business and government are clear: Fifty-two percent of businesses have asked their IT departments to reduce energy costs, and 47 percent of business IT departments are now responsible for their energy bill. Business owners understand that this kind of prioritization pays dividends: More than half of those who indicated that IT has been tasked with reducing energy costs have cut those costs by 1 percent or more.

According to the report, here’s a list of techniques businesses use to cut their energy bills:

  • Purchase equipment with low-power/low-wattage processors
  • Utilize network-based power management tools
  • Utilize software tools within uninterruptible power supplies to monitor power demand and energy use
  • Monitor data centers remotely to keep lights off when employees are not on site
  • Manage cable placement to reduce demand on cooling systems
  • Implement server and storage virtualization to reduce the number of servers and storage devices that draw power
  • Coach employees to shut down equipment

Part of Your DNA

For Boston architectural firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, a member of the U.S. Green Building Council since 2001, sustainable policies come naturally.

“Green policies are part of who we are,” says Steven Nutter, the company’s director of IT operations. “It’s a core value of the firm.”

Nutter believes going green requires much more than slashing paper and energy costs. Shepley strives to partner with firms that also make sustainable policies and practices a priority, from construction companies to office supply providers. In fact, Nutter feels so strongly about these issues that he recently issued a sustainable technology policy in writing.

In the document, Shepley Bulfinch affirms that it will consolidate hardware wherever possible; hold onto equipment as long as it is useful; have a lifecycle plan for every piece of equipment it buys; and consider upgrading its existing inventory first before purchasing new technology.

If we cannot donate used equipment to a school or nonprofit, Nutter says, “we work with recyclers we trust to make sure the machines are either refurbished or the parts are recycled.”

While not every company is as deliberate as Shepley Bulfinch, many will find that it’s become easier today to go green. CDW’s 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report found that both industry and government are increasingly providing clearer information about energy-efficient IT equipment standards, making it easier for IT managers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

In fact, 83 percent of respondents say energy-efficient products are becoming easier to identify, and almost all say the Energy Star label is very important for identifying energy-efficient products.

Though IT managers still struggle with a recessionary economy and may be tempted to buy less expensive products that don’t last as long, today the argument is stronger than ever that sustainable programs make good business sense and can help align an IT plan with a general business plan.

Maria Sullivan is vice president of business sales at CDW.
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