Green IT: Beyond the hype

Green IT: Beyond the hype

Measuring footprints

The introduction of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act at the start of July will be the thin end of the wedge in terms of carbon reporting. But while most reports have suggested it will only impact a few hundred companies in the short term, Ingram Micro’s Thomas Fikentscher predicted it would trickle downstream quickly as these large corporations request green reporting from their suppliers.

Carbon Planet’s Iain Smale said people might be surprised to learn the identity of some companies that were forced to report emissions because they were above the threshold.

“It’s not just large corporations because we’ve already talked to a poppy farm with 200 staff and a chlorine company with 300 staff that have gone over the [carbon emission] threshold,” he said. “Now they have to report by law and, if they don’t, there’s a $250,000 fine.”

Fujitsu’s Alison O’Flynn said one of the hardest challenges was that most customers didn’t know where they sat on the emissions list. Initial measurement is a vital first step before companies can start looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

“[Some] companies that might be exposed to that legislation aren’t even reporting or registered because they aren’t aware,” she said.

IBM’s Chris Fasseau agreed most companies hadn’t started measuring their carbon emissions and, to make matters worse, many that had were struggling to work out whether their levels were good or bad.

“How would David Jones, for example, compare itself to Myer in terms of carbon emissions? Does it run a more efficient fleet? Is its IT better?” he asked. “There are so many unknowns in that space but you need to start measuring and set targets from that baseline.”

Datacom’s Andrew Peel said the integrator went through an initial green audit process 12 months ago and would be applying more rigorous assessment this time around.

“It was fairly straightforward last year, because it was still new in the market, but it was useful as a snapshot,” he said. “As long as you have the right people within your company aligned to provide information to organisation conducting the audit, it’s quite a straightforward process.”

Fujitsu’s O’Flynn agreed there was a common misconception in the market that establishing a carbon baseline was an overwhelming process. Furthermore, she blamed the industry for creating the problem because of the language that was being used to describe it.

“People think it’s onerous when it’s actually quite simple to get a snapshot of where your company is at,” she said. “As an industry we have a responsibility to break down some of those myths and help customers understand that it’s common business sense.”

PKBA’s Peter Kazacos said the IT industry would have a critical role to play as suppliers of equipment and needed to lead by example.

“The role of each of our companies is very interesting because you can’t go out trying to sell the green IT concept with a big massive laptop. Why would your customers buy into it if you haven’t?” he asked. “Smaller customers often say ‘you’re about the same size as us, so what are you doing?’ If you don’t act responsibly then you can’t ask them to.”

Fujitsu’s O’Flynn agreed this was fundamental. She has been writing the company’s green strategy locally, which included demonstrating that Fujitsu was following the same rules it preached to customers.

VMware’s David Blackman said the whole discussion at ARN’s green IT round table had been about opportunities for the IT industry.

“From the delivery of a box to its disposal there’s a carbon issue around it. That creates opportunities for partners in different market segments,” he said. “The last 12 months has seen quite an evolution. Green IT solutions have to be flexible and cater for future growth but they also help you go to bed at night thinking you’ve done good things as a corporate citizen.

“We are really in the early adopter phase but there’s no limit to what we can do as long as there’s no limit to imagination.”

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