Building the case
Most of my career has been in Information Technology. I have considered myself an environmentalist much longer than that. I am finally crawling out of my cubicle and taking actions that are long overdue.
It's possible to make a strong case for making the greening of IT a central focus of any enterprise sustainability effort. This case will be greatly strengthened, if these two claims can be proven:
- Computing is the fastest-growing energy consumer in the world. This includes all the networks, data centers, infrastructure, and devices, both wired, wireless, and cellular, used in all applications everywhere, because they all work through computers.
- Greening IT offers the fastest financial payback of any advanced sustainability effort, second only to basic things like turning lights out at night and closing the door to keep the heat/cold out.
Do you know where, or from whom, I can get evidence that confirms, denies, or clarifies these claims?
Two more points to support this case were originated by me. Any input on these would also be appreciated:
- As inherent systems thinkers, IT people are ideally suited to step out of our cubicles and take active sustainability leadership. This includes advising and coaching non-ITers to think and act more systemically about the ecosystem and its challenges. We needn’t continue acting like voices in the wilderness.
- Green IT is distinct enough to be recognized as a professional discipline, because it encompasses design and use of business processes and applications as well as of hardware and software infrastructure, facilities, power and ventilation systems. As a distinct professional discipline, Green IT will be defined, promoted, managed, and enforced by an independent, not-for-profit organization. This means creating and applying distinct standards and instruments for accrediting qualified professionals, and for certifying business entities, including data centers. More detail on this quest is below.
No Green IT Accreditation in US?
This line of inquiry began with my finding no avenue for becoming accredited as a Green IT professional. Here are the most relevant programs I did find, and the key limitation of each:
- The Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program provides its member firms a checklist and a framework for moving toward greater sustainability. In most cases this encompasses IT initiatives, but does not provide specific guidance for them. Visit www.phillygreenbiz.com.
- The British Computer Society (BCS) is launching a new qualification for Green IT. The Foundation Certificate in Green IT outlines best practice basics, covers related regulations, policies and legislation in the UK, strategizes techniques, and describes carbon energy accounting. This author does not know whether such a broad agenda makes it the best available model, or just really vague. Visit http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.10479.
- The US Green Building Council (USGBC) sees Greening IT as a subset of LEED. This makes it an issue of buildings and facilities, and how much power they consume, not how and for what the power is used. IT solutions that reduce energy and increase efficiency, such as virtualization, cloud computing, telecommuting, and teleconferencing do not enter this equation, which leaves GBC out of the running. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Visit www.usgbc.org/.
- The Green Electronics Council created EPEAT certification to help purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. Component lifecycle, while important, is just one aspect of Green IT. EPEAT stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. Visit www.epeat.net/.
- The MSPAlliance has a program offering Green IT Certification to member Managed Service Providers. While this certification may be useful as a model, it was created to fit the needs of one industry, not all. Visit http://www.mspalliance.com/why-mspa/green-it-certification-program.
Building a case for Green IT Accreditation and Certification standards in the US by David Calloway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.