Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Building a case for Green IT Accreditation and Certification standards in the US

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  • 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
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Creative Commons License
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.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Green IT: Links to what the big players are doing

I wrote this piece in late July 2009. It's appearing now as a reference for people who attend Celebrate Green IT! in Philadelphia on October 20. Thanks to for a list that inspired this collection.

But those who didn't attend are welcome to use it, too.

What are the big players doing, and how can the not-so-big do it too?

The "low-hanging fruit" of Green IT savings are coming mainly from gains in energy efficiency. Much of this fruit hangs so low it's a hazard to foot traffic, so the assessments that identify it are mostly performed free of charge. The consultant who has the patience, and the pockets, to help one's clients pluck this low-hanging fruit will qualify to pursue the grand prize: a long-term contract to make the business itself operate more efficiently. So says Forrester research in a recent study about what IBM, HP, Accenture, and other big players are moving toward. I've gathered links to several major firms' Green IT and Green Enterprise web sites and white papers here.

See if you can learn their game.

IBM's Green IT portal:
A review of IBM's Smarter Planet and Green Sigma Coalition:

HP / Hewlett Packard:
HP also offers a free copy of Green IT for Dummies! It was written for the UK, but you'll get the idea. It's at

Accenture: Shaping the Green Agenda,
Accenture's Data Center Estimator white paper is at

And, SAP is kind enough to share their Business Case for Sustainability, at



Dow Jones has a Sustainability Index at SAP reports it has topped this list for 3 years running.

A firm called Glasshouse has what they call an Energy Proficiency Impact Analysis: It's more general, and includes

Energy savings for smaller commercial buildings-

Green Initiatives: Hire A Consultant?

Green IT Can Yield Tangible Financial Benefits, But Specialized Expertise Can Facilitate Project Development
Source:, written by Kurt Marko.

This is my commentary on the article, along with some quotes. I wrote this piece in late July 2009, and posted it October 20. A companion piece follows: What the Big Players Are Doing.

The article was published June 13, 2008. What’s happened in the intervening year? Why so little apparent progress?
Might author Kurt Marko have ideas on identifying Green IT initiatives and connections in the Phila area?

The quotes are in san-serif type, and my commentaries are in serif type.

…three major drivers of green IT initiatives are cost savings imperatives (of which power and cooling efficiency are paramount), overall corporate green initiatives, and technology refresh opportunities.

Green may be golden for a new class of IT service providers aiming to capitalize on growing environmental awareness by enterprises, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

In light of the diverse and fluid nature of green IT and the specialized knowledge outside traditional IT domains it entails, companies pursuing green initiatives are looking to consultants and service providers for help.

Forrester terms this new market “green IT services” and defines it as “consulting services that help enterprise IT organizations reduce their companies’ environmental impact by assessing, planning, and implementing initiatives that make the procurement, operation, and disposal of IT assets more environmentally responsible.” Of course, disposal is just one aspect. IT is trending toward cradle-to-cradle asset lifecycle management, which means that the materials in every product are managed with the intent that they will eventually become part of another product, not end up in a US landfill, or worse, in an off-shore dismantling sweatshop, poisoning foreign children and ecosystems.

…however, there’s a much more quantifiable reason IT departments are going green: power consumption. Increasing server density, coupled with today’s power-hungry quad-core processors, means many data centers are simply running out of electricity.

IT-intensive sectors are ripe for green initiatives. Mines says, “financial services, telecom, and pharma were often cited in our interviews as companies facing limits on growth due to power provisioning, cost, and/or tight real estate in their data centers.

A Green IT Assessment looks much like the technology assessment a systems integrators will typically do for a new or prospective client. According to Forrester’s Mines, a green IT program logically follows three phases: assessment, planning, and implementation. This sequence is illustrated at

Some additional key points from the Processor article about the Forrester research:
1. Assessment services entail creating an overall green IT plan and developing an ROI model.
2. The detailed planning phase aims to identify specific green initiatives from a menu, including equipment procurement, recycling, and reuse to improve data center efficiency. It also can entail positioning IT to support a company’s overall green strategy through such things as telecommuting, building automation, or supply chain optimization.
3. Components of the Implementation phase are not summarized in the article, but are described in some detail.

The conclusion: Given IT’s voracious power demands and its role in equipment procurement and disposal, the greening of IT is a trend that will become more prominent over the next few years.