Green IT Is Still On the ‘To Do’ List

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Government incentives are needed to get firms to take their environmental impact seriously, according to a survey

Around half of businesses operating in the UK’s IT sector do not have a green IT strategy – and those that do would like to see tax incentives from the government, according to online recruitment group The IT Job Board.

While more than a third (37 percent) of businesses have a green IT strategy in place, just under half (44 percent) do not, according to research. The survey of 148 IT professionals also found that the key factor in any sustainable strategy is money.

Half (49 percent) of the people surveyed said that the main objective for any green IT scheme would be to cut costs, echoing previous studies on this subject. The vast majority (89 percent) wanted to see grants and incentives for those adopting sustainable technologies. This last figure included about half of the sample who accepted that any government incentives would have to be balanced by taxes on those not reducing their environmental footprint.

“I believe the onus falls firmly on the government to promote the green IT agenda, and offer incentives to UK businesses,” said Alex Farrell, managing director of The IT Job Board. “Only then will this become top-of-mind, and the sector can work towards making a real change.”

The government itself has promised to adopt greener IT in the public sector, and its own moves also combine a cost-saving agenda with an environmental one. The CRC regulations coming into force this year combine carrot and stick to encourage larger organisations to reduce energy use, but are currently getting criticism from various sources.

Switching off PCs at the end of the day – a big energy saver – is policy for two thirds of companies, a finding which conflicts with reports from senior IT staff and technology management specialists that say this is difficult to square with the need to keep PCs constantly updated with the latest security patches.

Cutting business travel is a big target for IT according to the survey, with 60 percent of respondents saying this should be a company initiative. One tool to enable this, video conferencing, was mentioned by 48 percent of those surveyed. The other technologies favoured by the sample were virtualisation (54 percent) and cloud computing (27 percent), both of which figure strongly in the move to greener data centres, but which also deliver cost savings.

Outside of specific IT moves, 93 percent of those surveyed said they recycled paper, 68 percent said they recycled card, and 62 percent said they recycled printer consumables.

Although green IT is a hot topic, it hasn’t affected the jobs market much yet, said Farrell. “About 6-8 months ago green IT related roles such as virtualisation were much more in demand, particularly in the public sector as businesses were looking to invest in green IT in order to deliver further cost efficiencies. There was also a positioning exercise to lead by example and follow the Government’s green agenda. However this trend seems to have slowed considerably – undoubtedly coinciding with spending cuts in the public sector. It will be interesting to see how further budgetary cuts in the public sector will impact green IT initiatives.”