By 2020, information and communications technology (ICT) could slash carbon emissions globally by 15 percent, equal to 7.8 gigatons, while reducing energy spending by $300 billion. Keynote speaker Molly Webb, head of strategic engagement at The Climate Group, cited those figures here at GreenNet 2010 in San Francisco, drawing on a study conducted by the group "Smart 2020: Enabling the low-carbon economy in the Information Age."
Notably, the report was released back in 2008, but the numbers remain both relevant and conceivable in light of the progress we've seen worldwide in sustainable IT. The study asserts that in order to fully realize the potential gains of sustainable ICT initiatives, organizations need to embrace tools for monitoring progress, to find ways to hold entities (users, departments, branches, and so on) accountable for their emissions, and to rethink and transform themselves to fully integrate green tools and practices. Organizations that have embraced these types of strategies have made significant green gains.
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Key to understanding just how huge an impact IT can have on cutting energy waste and saving money is understanding that green IT is not limited to products. Technologies such as energy-efficient hardware, virtualization software, and PC power management, for example, are part of the puzzle.
However, if you've followed the InfoWorld Green 15 award winners over the past three years, you'll see just how significantly ICT, combined with monitoring, accountability, and cultural shifts, can help companies achieve sustainability goals well beyond the data center and desktop projects we honored in 2008.
Jump ahead to 2009 and 2010, and you'll see how organizations have put ICT to work in innovative, creative ways. Logistics management software, GPS and wireless technology, and asset-tracking systems are helping organizations of all sizes streamline their supply chains, resulting in considerable reductions in fuel consumption, vehicular wear and tear, and other forms of waste.