05 May 2010 10:05:21
What role does the IT industry have to play in a low carbon economy?
Virtually all modern businesses rely on a sophisticated system of IT for support. So much so that some organisations spend over 50 per cent of their IT budget on the energy to power it, a new book claims.
Green IT for Sustainable Business Practice calls on those responsible for the company's IT systems to set carbon reduction targets for themselves and become better acquainted with the regulation surrounding the industry.
However, the issues relating to the carbon emissions of IT systems are extremely complex. While they are huge consumers of energy, they provide thousands of benefits to businesses of all sizes and will have a significant role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy.
Increasingly, businesses are using virtualisation technologies, such as cloud computing, as a way of reducing their outgoings on costly IT equipment. A report by Gartner earlier this year suggested that by the year 2020, 20 per cent of firms will not own any IT assets.
This is perhaps one of the best examples of how energy-efficient technologies can have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Gartner also claimed that personal computers use ten times their weight in fossil fuels over their lifetime and PC manufacture and transportation accounts for 80 per cent of a computer's total energy consumption. It predicts this figure will reduce to 60 per cent in 2012, as more customers look for information on carbon dioxide emissions before purchasing a product.
Beyond this IT solutions like video conferencing can allow firms to reduce their reliance on road transport and aviation. As well as reducing carbon emissions, this helps boost efficiency, and again can lead to a positive effect on the bottom line.
Hi-tech IT systems installed in vehicles can also cut carbon emissions by enabling technology to operate more effectively and informing users of their energy usage.
With the book predicting that in the future the IT could fall under the same level of scrutiny as the aviation industry, is it time that companies begin to consider the role of technology in moving towards a low carbon economy? And, exactly how far should that role extend?