Jeffrey Gaguzis, Global IT Category Manager
Sara Alchin, Global IT Category Manager
What is Green IT?
Sustainable IT, also known as “Green” IT, reduces the environmental impact associated with conventional Information Technology (IT). Traditionally, we monitor energy consumption of our heating and cooling systems, appliances, and lighting. However, until recently we haven’t given as much consideration to the environmental impact of our laptops, phones, tablets, data centers, networks, etc.
Green IT primarily covers manufacturing, use, management, and disposal of computer-related products in an environmentally conscious way. The goals of Green IT are to:
Reduce use of hazardous materials
Maximize energy efficiency during a product’s lifetime
Promote the biodegradability of unused and outdated products
Why is Green IT important?
According to the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems:
In 2018, 92% of households in the U.S. had a computer at home, compared to 8% in 1984. Of all households in 2018, 78% had a desktop or laptop, 84% had a smartphone, 63% had a tablet, and 85% had a broadband internet connection
The IT sector accounts for 4% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and this could double by 2025
Electricity used for U.S. servers and data centers emits 35.9 million metric tons CO2e annually which equates to 4.04 billion gallons of gasoline consumed per year
In 2019, ~54 million metric tons of e-waste were generated worldwide—only 17% was recycled properly
One ton of printed circuit boards has a higher concentration of precious metals than one ton of mined ore
How can enterprises embrace Green IT?
Employees, activists, governments, and ordinary citizens are beginning to pressure large enterprises to prioritize climate change and modify how they think of IT within the context of Green IT. The challenge will be to reduce IT’s carbon footprint while delivering high-quality, low-cost technology services to customers and employees. CIOs and other technology leaders, in conjunction with CEOs and other C-level executives, are finding themselves on the front lines of this transformation.
There are several actions that CIOs can take today to move the needle regarding Green IT within their enterprise. These actions involve sourcing strategies, establishing metrics, and monitoring/managing performance against these metrics.
The fastest way to reduce IT’s carbon footprint is to revise policies for technology sourcing in one of several ways:
Optimize the number of hardware devices (PCs, printers). For example, the leading enterprises have roughly one printer for every 16 people in the workplace; the overall average is roughly one printer per eight people.
Shift to the cloud. Could your company servers be moved to a different data center that uses less space or has lower cooling costs? Enterprises that want to reduce their power utilization and carbon footprint could migrate workloads to the cloud service providers, such as AWS. Many of these co-locaters are buying green energy themselves and investing in ultra-efficient data centers.
Adjust hardware refresh timelines. What are the current refresh cycles for your laptops? Could you lengthen the refresh to four or five years instead of three? Have you considered refurbished devices instead of new? CIOs will need to continue to adjust refresh cycles and timelines. As an example, for PC devices, the average refresh cycle was 3 years. Now, refresh cycles are four (and in some instances) 5 years in length. Extending refresh timelines can greatly reduce the quantity of raw materials needed to manufacture hardware devices.
As a corollary to acquiring hardware assets, develop a strategy for asset disposition. Do you have an ITAD (IT Asset Disposition) partner? How are your IT devices disposed? Could the devices be recycled? CIO’s can work with their manufacturers and service providers to determine what that strategy should be.
Establish a “Green Metric”.
As part of a sourcing and supplier management process, IT organizations can further assess manufacturers, service providers, and others based on:
How advanced they are in recycling and refurbishing electronics, including statistics on reduction in carbon footprint and raw material recapture
Designing circular components (reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling of products and their components)
Extending product life cycles with better design, higher-quality manufacturing, and more robust materials
Measure and Monitor.
Establishing a green metric is only a start. CIOs need to establish a baseline of performance, measure progress against the baseline, and track impact in real-time. Areas of immediate progress include the number of end-user devices purchased and in use, current age, and ratio of users to device (e.g., print).
Another method is to evaluate the power consumption of large technology assets over time by embedding monitoring equipment from power companies.
How can Green IT help your company achieve ESG goals?
Green IT can be a competitive advantage for your business. Businesses use environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting to disclose green IT practices. Positive ESG is attractive to customers, talent, and investors. In fact, most IT organizations include ESG as a purchasing criterion when choosing information and communication technology!
Reach out to us today to discuss how we can help support you with your Green IT metrics.
We invite you to join the discussion on LinkedIn to share your thoughts; let’s keep the conversation going!
Jeffrey Gaguzis is a global IT category manager for WNS Denali. Jeff has over 20 years in Sourcing and Procurement with over 15 years focused on the IT category. Before joining WNS, Jeff worked for Fairmarkit, a pioneer in tail spend management technology. Prior to that, Jeff held similar senior positions at Accenture, TD Ameritrade, and FreeMarkets/Ariba. Jeff holds a BS in Microbiology from Penn State and an MBA in Marketing/General Business from Robert Morris University.
Sara Alchin is a global IT category manager for WNS Denali. Sara has over 20 years in Procurement plus 10 years in various IT roles. Sara has previously worked with companies focusing on IT software procurement, hardware asset management and supplier management. Sara has a BSE in Computer Engineering from University of Michigan.
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