User demand is key to green IT uptake

User demand is key to green IT uptake

Government needs to introduce regulation to incentivise adoption

The pressure of market forces is not yet strong enough to drive widespread adoption of green technology and services, say UK IT leaders.

A survey of members of blue-chip user group The Corporate IT Forum (Tif) suggests that suppliers will only develop environmentally friendly products if their customers demand them, but there are insufficient incentives for IT buyers to do so.

Green issues came eighth on a list of priorities for IT managers, mainly because they are yet to be convinced there is a business case ­ 69 per cent say that cost reduction is the key driver for going green, but 58 per cent say building a business case for environmental IT is the biggest challenge.

Being green is not a top concern for many large firms, said Tif chief executive David Roberts.

“The survey shows that green IT is just one priority among many,” he said.
“Companies have a range of competing priorities ­ such as information security, legacy systems and data quality ­ and some of the large green initiatives require big investments.”

IT is a large consumer of energy ­ - analyst Gartner estimates the IT sector is responsible for two per cent of global CO2 emissions.

But there is confusion over who is responsible for reducing the environmental impact of technology.

The Tif research found that 40 per cent of the 171 UK companies surveyed thought that business should lead in this area and 33 per cent thought government should have a role. This suggests that driving the adoption of green products is not the responsibility of IT suppliers.

A report by IT trade association Intellect says that while vendors have a role in encouraging uptake, no significant progress will be made until there is greater customer demand for green products.

“A wholesale adoption of best available technologies could dramatically reduc e energy use. Robust policy instruments are required to make this a reality and create the necessary market pull,” says the report.

But this pull seems unlikely to come from technology users, according to Tif.

Few large-scale green initiatives are being implemented ­ only 12 per cent of survey respondents use new datacentre cooling techniques and just 15 per cent recycle datacentre heat.

A positive step would be for government to provide clearer benchmarking on green products, according to Marks & Spencer head of strategy and architecture Alan French.

“If we have to do all the digging ourselves without standards that mean something, it is hard to make 100 per cent environmentally friendly choices when choosing equipment,” he said.

One Tif member said the current regulatory pressure from government is insufficient to drive green IT adoption.

“We will only pursue this vigorously when public or government pressure increases,” said the anonymous respondent.