What's behind green-tech initiatives and our choices
The impetus for green IT projects -- not just those in the InfoWorld Green 15 -- run the gamut: Some companies are struggling with limited space and power to keep pace with their ever-increasing technological needs, and thus need to eliminate and consolidate machines. Some seek to put a dent in soaring energy bills through power management and improved heating and cooling. Some are committed to protecting the environment by reducing waste and cutting their carbon emissions. And some are, quite frankly, investing in green technology not for the environmental benefits -- nor necessarily the lower power bills -- but because it happens to meet another business need. The green payoff is a happy bonus.
Our goal with the InfoWorld Green 15, however, wasn't to simply reward initiatives based on what inspired them. Rather, we considered the net effects of the projects, taking into account what technologies and best practices were applied to a business goal and what the ultimate result was in terms of environmental benefits, the business implications, and the lessons learned to be applied to future initiatives.
The 6 key lessons from the Green 15
To be sure, there are many valuable lessons to be gleaned from these 15 projects. Here are the key ones.
1. Many green IT projects pay for themselves. One of the common threads among our projects was that the people behind them didn't have too much trouble convincing whomever controls the purse strings that there was an obvious, measurable ROI to be had. Sweetening the deal for companies such as Fujitsu and NetApp: generous incentives from the local utility to help fund their energy-saving projects.
2. Green IT isn't just for the enterprise. While large IT providers such as Sun and IBM made the list, so too did Bryant University, which has fewer than 4,000 students, as well as small and medium firms such as GM2 Logistics. A smaller company likely won't be able to point to hundreds of thousands of watts and dollars saved from a green-tech project -- but the business benefits, such as freeing up space for growth and saving money from lower bills and fewer hardware purchases, can be a real boon for organizations with relatively limited resources.
3. Green IT isn't just for the datacenter. While many of the Green 15 projects did take root in the datacenter, organizations such as Verizon Wireless and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools found there was plenty of waste to be cut from the desktop (and the bottom line), thanks to technologies such as power-sipping thin clients and power-management software.