The emissions that factor in to a company's overall footprint don't just come from equipment that run on electricity from the socket; there are also the emissions produced by fuel-burning vehicles, from fleets of delivery vehicles to the private jets that shuttle execs to weeklong vacations, er, act-finding missions to Hawaii.
Lo and behold, there are IT solutions out there to help slash fuel consumption. Microsoft, Cisco, and other vendors are successfully pushing telepresence and videoconferencing as viable alternatives to face-to-face travel. In fact, for the duration of COP15, Cisco is connecting four rooms in Copenhagen with Cisco TelePresence rooms in 43 countries and 77 locations worldwide.
Meanwhile, companies with fleets of vehicles have found ways to significantly cut fuel costs by making delivery routes more efficient through optimization software and tracking the performance of individual vehicles at a very granular level with GPS, wireless technology, and smart monitoring apps.
Whereas the aforementioned technologies will help organizations cut energy costs and associated carbon emissions, there's still the weighty task of measuring your company's footprint as a whole (which, again, IDC says will be required of G20 companies starting in 2010). IT solutions geared toward that very task have matured significantly over the past couple of years, with offerings from companies such as Enviance and Computer Associates giving organizations the ability to track and manage sustainable projects on a granular basis, as well as track carbon emissions from suppliers. These products will most certainly continue to evolve and gain adoption in coming months.
There's no way around it: 2010 will mark the start of a difficult transition for some organizations as carbon regulations weave a complex web of requirements and, in some areas, require hefty some investments and drive up costs. Maybe a rash of lawsuits over carbon emissions will flare up, too. The silver lining, as tends to be the case with sustainable IT, is that it creates an opportunity for organizations to reassess how they're expending resources and find ways to drive down costs by cutting waste. Additionally, increased interest in sustainable IT worldwide could translate to more revenue for players in the IT industry. Finally -- and in the grand scheme of things, perhaps most important -- a surge in sustainable products and practices means an important step toward making the planet cleaner and safer.