IT fails environmental accounting test

Despite concern for environmental initiatives, 86% of IT professionals do not know the carbon footprint of their organisation, according to in-depth research released today.

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Despite concern for environmental initiatives, 86% of IT professionals do not know the carbon footprint of their organisation, according to in-depth research released today.

Only 15% of enterprises are planning to calculate their carbon footprint, according to a survey of IT professionals conducted by Computerworld UK on behalf of practical environmental charity Global Action Plan.

Time pressures, cost, lack of corporate commitment, scarcity of information and lack of knowledge in the enterprise are the biggest obstacle to implementing green IT technologies, found the survey.

The national survey of IT professionals of large enterprises, which was backed by Logicalis, found the majority (more than half) of ICT departments do not see their company's energy bills, even though IT is a significant consumer of energy.

Despite the high energy use of IT equipment, most enterprises are failing to involve the IT department in sustainable initiatives. For instance, environmental performance is not a major consideration in IT purchasing decisions. More than a third do not consider the environmental benefits at all when purchasing new products.

What's more, half of all ICT professionals surveyed said they have actively sought to become involved in their organisations environmental initiatives in some way. However, one quarter of ICT departments are not part of their organisation's social responsibility and sustainability strategy at all, and a further 50% are only partially involved.

Industry standards and incentives such as tax allowances are needed to encourage enterprises to embark on green projects, the survey found. IT professionals broadly agreed that incentives to implement green best practices can inspire employees to make significant changes. But only 6% of the organisations surveyed have financial or personal incentives for their ICT department to adopt friendly initiatives.

The 120 IT professionals that responded to the survey manage more than 500,000 workers in the UK in total, and have a combined budget of more than £475 million. Global Action Plan launched the survey, as part of a larger in-depth report called the Inefficient Truth, to politicians environmental and IT industry leaders at a special event at the House of Commons today.

Trewin Restorick, director of Global Action Plan, said he hoped the House of Commons event is a "wake-up call" for everyone. "The airline industry is a pin up bad boy for environmentalist while the ICT sector is relatively overlooked, but the ICT is equivalent in terms of environmental impact, and is growing faster."

IT is not all bad though, Restorick added: "ICT could give us many benefits. Better technology can reduce the need to travel and provide social advantages. There are practical and quick things that could happen to address the carbon issue, which can't be so easily done within the aviation industry."


The charity hoped, Restorick said, to "start a discussion amongst IT users, vendors and government about practical things that need to be done to help become a low carbon sector.

Read our full coverage of the Global Action Plan event here.

Now read the executive summary of Global Action Plans reportAn inefficient truth

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