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Green IT is in style: technology companies begin showing their eco-friendly side.

The recent focus on global warming seems to have sparked a renewed interest in the environment, and, in the process, has brought a great deal of attention to the IT industry. Instead of saving trees by producing the long-sought-after paperless office, the production, use and disposal of technology is damaging the environment.

In order to manage today's increasing volumes of data, servers are growing larger, denser, hotter and using massive amounts of power. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's August 2007 report to Congress, the amount of electricity consumed by U.S. data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006, and is expected to double again by 2011. The EPA reports that data centers consumed 61 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006, an estimated 1.5 percent of the nation's energy, which cost $4.5 billion, and is expected to grow to $7.4 billion by 2011.

According the the EPA, Americans generated approximately 2.6 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) in 2005. Research firm Garmer estimates that more than 800 million PCs will be swapped out between now and 2012, with nearly 500 million tossed into landfills. Recycling efforts are increasing, but there is growing concern that some e-waste recycling is nothing more that exporting discarded electronics to developing countries, where e-waste is improperly treated, leading to health and environmental issues.

Many components in today's electronics are toxic and non-biodegradable, producing pollutants-lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous waste-in the manufacturing process and leaching hazardous waste after disposal.

The IT industry, however, seems to be responding. Data from Forrester Research shows a rapid growth in the interest in green IT. As of October 2007, 38 percent of IT professionals said their companies use environmental criteria in their evaluation and selection of IT equipment. Just six months earlier, however, it was only 25 percent. In the fall of 2006, 78 percent indicated that green IT was not even in their evaluation and selection criteria for IT systems and devices.

Technology manufacturers and vendors are beginning to see green. Many are accepting-even embracing-environmental protection as a corporate social responsibility. Many companies are forming green initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, promising to eliminate the use of hazardous materials in production, developing eco-friendly and energy-saving products, and establishing reuse and recycling programs.

High-tech heavy hitters like Apple, Dell, Sony, Motorola, NEC and HP have initiated environmentally friendly take back and recycling programs to reduce e-waste.

Companies such as APC, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and VMware have united in a vendor-led consortium, The Green Grid, which seeks to improve data center and business computing energy efficiency and promote the adoption of energy-efficient standards, processes, measurements and technologies. The Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which brings together big names like Intel, Google, Dell, HP, IBM, Lenovo and Microsoft, promotes the use of energy-efficient computers and power-management tools to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Technologies that reduce energy consumption and waste hold great promise for organizations that are seeking to improve their green reputation and, ultimately, their competitive advantage. In a Tandberg/Ipsos MORI survey of 16,823 people in 15 countries, 53 percent of the respondents said they would prefer to purchase products and services from a company with a good environmental reputation.

Being green can highlight a company's corporate social responsibility, but, ultimately, also benefit its bottom line. "As much as it is an environmental issue, or policy or government issue, it is also a business issue," says Alan Cohen, vice president of enterprise solutions at Cisco Systems. "People want to do business with companies that are green."

This, of course, is good news for the environment and companies who understand the value of green.

Communications News' new column, GreenTech, will focus on a variety of issues concerning the Green IT movement. You can contact Associate Editor Denise DiRamio at ddiramio@comnews.com.
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Title Annotation:Green Tech; information technology
Author:DiRamio, Denise
Publication:Communications News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:646
Previous Article:10 GbE and the data center.
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