Mark Monroe, executive director, The Green Grid, stresses the importance of reducing carbon emissions from IT infrastructures and explains that achieving those reductions could be easier than you think

It is the view of many that reducing resource consumption and carbon output from IT infrastructures can only be achieved by making an unaffordable investment in technology. However, it might come as a surprise to those individuals but, actually, it is easy being green. In fact, when it comes to IT, saving money and cutting emissions should go hand in hand – a heartening lesson for these turbulent times.

Of course, it’s understandable that many organisations, while appreciating the importance of reducing their resource consumption and power usage, look with fear at the faltering economy, and consequently delay taking the plunge. However, the real question is whether these organisations can afford not to address these issues now.

The opportunity to save money, power and carbon is far greater in IT than it is in most other areas of business. Data centres can consume as much as 100 times the energy per square foot compared to conventional office buildings, and the opportunities for saving energy and costs can also be commensurately large. Whether an organisation runs its own data centre or uses cloud services, there is scope for big savings.

Yet without independent research, advice, case studies and calculating tools, government and business are in the dark, and it is no surprise that both should baulk at the costs if they have no comprehension of the benefits.

The truth is out there

The good news is that these resources exist in abundance. The green data centre movement has been around since 2006, and there are hundreds of conferences, thousands of papers, and innumerable case studies that show how businesses can save. The Green Grid alone has almost 200 such resources on its website, and the numbers are growing all the time.

Given the attention devoted to this issue by many in the IT industry, the progressive technological advances of recent years and the plethora of resources and advice available, the view that greening IT is an unaffordable luxury has become increasingly untenable.

The facts are available, both on The Green Grid’s library and elsewhere – implementing resource reducing initiatives in a careful and considered manner is one of the best ways to protect against soaring energy prices. However, don’t just take our word for it. A new case study from The Green Grid examines a data centre that reduced energy consumption by 9.1% following efficiency upgrades.

This initiative paid for itself within two years. However, is that too long to wait for a return on investment? Well, consider this – the price of energy has risen by 35% in just five years, and is set to climb much higher – by how much, we can only guess. Organisations that fail to address energy efficiency are merely mortgaging their future expenditure.

If businesses are to undertake energy efficiency initiatives, they need access to resources, advice and expertise that will enable them to do so successfully. The case study mentioned above is just one example of the knowledge that The Green Grid is compiling, commissioning and collecting. The goal is to use the expertise and experience of its members to create tools, training and best practices for more resource efficient technologies and practices that will benefit everyone.

While many businesses may be uncertain of the benefits and ROI of energy reducing initiatives, there is widespread realisation that rising energy costs must urgently be addressed. According to a recent report from Ernst & Young, more than nine in ten businesses say that high future prices will encourage them to reduce their energy use.

Just what the doctor ordered!

So rather than being a bitter pill to swallow, reducing energy consumption is in fact a much needed medicine for a business’s overall cost efficiency. While we fully understand that organisations today need to be watchful of every item of expenditure, it is the role of education, and the responsibility of all, to show how green technologies and best practices are among the best investments a business can make.

We simply cannot afford to ignore the issues – of sustainability, of cost cutting, of power and resource reduction. Failure to address these issues now will have enormously damaging consequences, not just for our environment but also for businesses’ bottom line. Success requires co-operation and collaboration – it needs us to share our knowledge and our successes. The financial and environmental challenges we face are global and we need the world to come together to find the solution.