Green will hunting

Green will hunting

Vendor-sponsored surveys need to be taken with a pinch of salt, much more than a pinch if the results highlight a market need for a particular vendor's products, but they can be useful indicators of broader market trends.

A recent survey of more than 600 CIOs and IT managers in Europe found that 'green' products could command a premium price. Co-sponsored by AMD and Lenovo, 82 per cent of respondents said they would be happy to pay more for energy efficient products.

Now I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that Lenovo has low-energy desktops (ThinkCentre A61e) that are gold-rated by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (a Green Electronics Council program 'to help purchasers in the public and private sectors evaluate, compare, and select desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on their environmental attributes.')

But the 'green machine' market is quickly becoming a crowded space - HP has eight desktops on the same EPEAT list, Dell has four, there's an Apple Mac Pro and almost a dozen whiteboxes. EPEAT is not an environmental bible but its very existence is an indication that buyers are becoming more interested in green credentials. All the major vendors are green will hunting and the environment will become as central to their messaging as technical specifications or design features. Apple's MacBook Air is a prime example.

Its wafer-thin design scored highly for 'cool factor' but the resounding endorsement from Greenpeace won't have hurt the marketing campaign either.

While working to improve the efficiency of its processors, Intel recently took a more indirect approach. The chipmaker announced at the end of last month that it plans to buy 1.3 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy certificates every year, making it the largest corporate buyer of green energy in the US.

How much this will cost was not announced, but a director at the US Environmental Protection Agency estimated the certificates would be worth between $US2.6 million and $US5.2 million. As he pointed out, that isn't a huge price to pay for the sense of corporate social responsibility and associated media attention it will attract.

Nokia used the same day in January to tell us it had joined the World Wildlife Fund's Climate Savers Program, while pledging to use green electricity to power half of its facilities by 2010 and reducing overall energy needs by 6 per cent over the next four years.

We can expect to see many similar initiatives as the industry looks to lead by example.

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