Green is the New Black

So the item to have in a woman’s wardrobe is a little black dress and even the uber-geeks of this world look much more hip in black.  What I’ve come to realize in the past few months is that black is no longer the chic color of the day, green is the new black.

courtesy photoxpress

Going green is no longer for environmentalists and hippie wannabe’s. Today it is as ubiquitous as the technologies we use to keep up with each other’s lives. Here are some recent examples that surprised me:

  • My daughter’s daycare is green—that’s right, 3 year olds are being taught to compost, recycle, and be more conscious of how they leverage their natural resources.
  • My retired parents just got a letter from their energy company challenging them to reduce their baseline footprint. By unplugging all of their appliances (okay, not the fridge but things that don’t need to be on 24/7) they reduced their baseline by 82%. Not too bad given that it just adds a couple seconds to their day to plug in the microwave before using it. (Being retired I think they care more about the cost savings than environmental impact but either way it is a win.)
  • I can walk into any department store and now find clothing that uses “green and organic fabrics” as its differentiator (and often driver for higher price tags).

Given how green has infiltrated every aspect of life today it is not surprising that the low murmur about green IT has now built to a buzzing roar.  This year we’ve seen a new certificate from Comptia in GreenIT as well as BCS, and others are under development by a number of different organizations.  The challenge doesn’t seem to be that those of us in IT are interested in Green, but what it really means for us to execute.

I’ve seen “Green” courses containing content from everything from where to recycle used desktop computers, to how changing your corporate font can save money in print cost, to how to use solar panels for energy generation in the office.  (I’ve even seen training on using hog waste to help power the IT organization but that could just be because I’m in NC, a heavy hog farm state).  This wide range of definitions of what going green means to IT can cause utter confusion and lack of commitment to a program.

Green IT is not an individual effort but an organizational approach that requires the same type of dedication and commitment that adopting the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework to improve your IT practices and efficiencies requires. Unless your organization embraces the idea of formulating a green strategy, we only have the impact of individual efforts rather than organizational power.  Not that remembering to turn off/unplug your computer at night won’t make a difference, it will, but if corporations do not choose to invest in a green strategy that forces conscious decisions on reuse, reduction, and recycling it is unlikely that we’ll see major changes in energy consumption over the next decade.

The appeal in Green for strategy within an organization should be one of dollars and sense:

  • dollars: It is an approach to focus on how to improve efficiencies and reduce waste in your organization, and although the up-front investment might be significant the long term financial and social benefits are immense
  • sense: it is a way to build a sustainable corporate culture that will allow our companies to survive and thrive for decades to come.
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