What Is Green IT?

May 1, 2010

Why You Should Care

Laurie McCabe
Partner, SMB Group

Green IT refers to the study and practice of using computers and IT resources in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way. Here are some simple ways for achieving greener IT:

Eliminate paper, printer, and packaging waste. The average office worker used 130 pounds of paper in 2008, according to InfoTrends. Try tools such as Green Print to make people “think before they print” and automatically eliminate things such as printing that extra page with only a footer or disclaimer on it. Buy remanufactured toner cartridges and get personal ink cartridges refilled. Shop for a printer that automatically prints double-sided and look for eco-friendly packaging on all new IT products.

Reduce power consumption. “Set it and forget” tools, such as smart power strips, automatically turn off peripheral devices when you turn off the main device. When buying new equipment, look for EnergyStar 4.0 ratings and above. Try Edison, a free application that helps you monitor energy use. Intuit QuickBooks’ customers can use Intuit Green Snapshot to estimate their firms’ carbon footprint and get recommendations to conserve energy and dollars.

Recycle old equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that only 18% of electronic waste was collected for recycling in 2007. But it’s easy to recycle. At Gazelle, you can sell and/or recycle all kinds of electronic devices, from mobile phones to printers. Through Dell’s and Goodwill’s Reconnect Partnership, you can donate unwanted devices. Or go online to IBM’s Asset Recovery Program and get a buyback quote for the value of 1 to 250 items.

Use cloud computing and software-as-a-service solutions (SaaS) instead of new, in-house applications. With cloud computing, multiple organizations share the same computing resources. For instance, researcher Greenspace found that with more than 6,000 customer companies sharing data center resources, NetSuite’s cloud ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) solution saved more than $61 million in energy bills per year, or nearly 595 million kilowatt-hours, the equivalent of nearly 423,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. You’ll find almost every kind of application in the cloud—from personal productivity applications to accounting to industry-specific solutions—for every size company. If you use dedicated hosting services, shop for green hosting providers that use solar or wind power.

Transition from paper-based to digital processes. E-mail marketing solutions are greener and more affordable, flexible, and interactive than direct mail. Free and low-cost online invoicing solutions such as Sage BillingBoss and Freshbooks and online faxing solutions such as Myfax and RingCentral Fax also help cut down on paper waste.

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