InfoWorld announced its first Green 15 Award winners in April 2008, right before the financial collapse. You might think that, since then, the idea of sustainable IT would have gone the way of many other environmental matters -- that is, taken a backseat to economic issues.
But going green is more important than ever, if the entries we've already received for our fifth annual Green IT Awards are any guide. If your company has a green initiative and you haven't already nominated it, I encourage you to fill out our nomination form in advance of the Feb. 28 deadline and see if an InfoWorld 2012 Green IT Award is in your future (award winners will be announced in late April).
[ Check out InfoWorld's 2011 Green 15 Awards and see what it takes to be a winner. | You know about Moore's Law -- Koomey's law charts a similar trajectory for the reduction of power consumption. | See "Little machines and the future of the data center" by InfoWorld editor in chief Eric Knorr. ]
The reason for the green IT trend's continuing strength is clear, says InfoWorld's Ted Samson, who created the award program. Sustainable IT has always been primarily about power conservation, so when you save money on energy, you get the green halo for free. And today, energy costs loom so large relative to other data center expenses, you'd have to be crazy not to prioritize energy efficiency.
A few months ago, Ted wrote about Koomey's Law -- named after data center power guru Jonathan Koomey -- which states that the power efficiency of computing doubles about every 18 months, the same rate at which Moore's Law predicted integrated circuit transistor density would double. Obviously, there's a connection: Greater density means lower power consumption -- or more computing power per watt. However, as Ted notes, energy efficiency depends not only on hardware, but also on the efficiency of the code that runs on it.
The variable nature of workloads has left the industry groping for a standard by which to measure and compare data center power efficiency. The excellent Computerworld article "Green IT: In search of an energy yardstick" by Mary Brandel runs through the pros and cons of today's emerging standards; consider it recommended reading for anyone interested in data center power issues.
Regardless of precise power benchmarks, however, the plain fact is that -- green or no green -- processors, power supplies, and other components are getting more efficient all the time. On the storage side, SSDs -- which will hit $1 per gigabyte this year -- represent a quantum cut in power consumption compared to spinning disks. Shared hardware architectures such as blade servers keep rising in popularity and the consolidation inherent in network convergence can't help but slash the number of power cords. And check out Facebook's Open Compute spec: It addresses data center architecture from server hardware to physical layout from a relentlessly power-efficient perspective.
Or is that cost efficient? Does it matter?
Clearly, green has become a commodity. From a PR standpoint, all you need to do to "go green" is refresh your infrastructure. But as with all InfoWorld Awards, we're looking for outstanding examples for the Green 15 Awards -- companies that go beyond readily available building blocks and take a leap ahead. And remember: Exemplary power efficiency isn't the only way to win.
In the past, we've had companies such as Aflac embrace technologies to reduce print waste while boosting productivity. Organizations including KPMG and P&G deployed telepresence and videoconferencing to slash travel, a move that shrank their respective carbon footprints while reducing hefty travel expenses. Winners such as the U.S. Postal Service and Con-way Freight figured out ways to make more efficient use of their fleets of vehicles. And companies such as GlaxoSmithKline have tackled the problem of e-waste, responsibly disposing of tons of old hardware -- in the process freeing up valuable storage and office space, while trimming electric bills.
Check out our list of past Green 15 Awards to get a sense of what makes a winning entry -- and read our Green 15 Awards FAQ, which has all the details about award criteria. Then, when you're ready, fill in the nomination form. We'll be accepting nominations through the end of February. Winners will be announced on April 22 -- which happens to be Earth Day.
This article, "Has your company gone green? Tell us about it," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.