Green is more than a color these days. Thanks to the eco-friendly initiatives of the last decade, green is a way of life — a way to approach thinking and behaving that reduces our negative impact on the environment.
As such, the adjective “green” has been attached to a number of other industries to describe the push in those fields for greater earth-friendly approaches. That’s the case with Green IT— the term used to describe how companies can be more energy efficient.
Why Green IT Is Important
Nearly a full third of a typical company’s power consumption comes from their IT tasks. IT devices in this case encompass everything from internet routers to on-site servers to computer stations to printers and more. By increasing how energy efficient these devices are, and controlling the power-consuming tasks, allows companies to reduce both their costs and their carbon footprint.
The Green IT initiative has been so strong that analysts predict the niche consulting aimed at business IT will blossom into a five billion dollar industry by the end of 2013. Whether or not you invest in a consultant, there are several things you can do now to make your company’s IT greener.
Ways to Greenify Your IT
There are dozens of ways you can reduce your power consumption, but some are more effective — and more practical — than others. Here are some of the best approaches you can use.
Choose Green Web Hosting
Unless you are living under a rock, if you have a business, you have a web site. And if you have a website, you need web hosting. Rather than going with a conventional web host, why not choose one of the many, well-equipped green web hosting companies instead?
Web hosts go green in the various ways. They can power their web servers with renewable energy like wind or solar, or purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from a renewable energy provider. Some green web hosts purchase carbon credits to offset carbon emissions, however this does not prevent carbon from being emitted in the first place.
Buy Energy Efficient Hardware
If you’re still using outdated hardware for any business task, you’re probably wasting both money and energy. Old CRT monitors are nefarious power hogs when compared to LCD, older servers are both sluggish and electrically inefficient, and older computer PSUs give you less juice for a higher power cost. Replace your older hardware with current, energy-efficient alternatives.
Additionally, while not strictly IT, you can expand this renovation to anything in your building that uses power — your lights, heating/cooling units, or even the fridge in your break room.
Send Employees Home — Permanently
A great portion of companies are offering work-from-home positions. Not only does this save the company hardware costs, but you don’t have to pay for power bills, on-premise workers’ compensation fees, and a slew of other items. Additionally, employees — especially those with young children — are often eager to take on the opportunity.
While once impractical, new video conferencing, desktop sharing, and even specialized telecommuting software have made this option ideal for any company that is involved in primarily computer-based tasks. Employees who do web based work – online marketers, tech support, web developers, don’t need to be in a physical location in order to do their jobs, so why not give them the option of location independence?
Location independence has great benefits for employees as well. They can save money and time commuting to and from work, which decreases their carbon footprint. And think about all the extra savings from not having to eat out or to invest in professional business attire. The virtual office is a win win for all.
Turn Going Green into a PR Opportunity
With cost and quality being equal, consumers, hands down, prefer to buy from socially responsible or eco friendly businesses. Consider communicating your sustainability efforts to your community. A great way to build an ongoing relationship with your customers is through blogging.
The good news about blogging is has very little startup cost, but yields enormous marketing and PR benefits. All you need is an inexpensive green web host, WordPress, and a professional green WordPress theme, like the free Green Stimulus theme, which you can download for free, and your going green business blog will be up and running in no time.
Lorna Li manages the small business WordPress themes & solutions division for a CRM company in the Bay Area. She also writes about green business and green marketing. Follow Lorna on Twitter @lornali.