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Study Finds Green IT Low on NZ Business Agenda

First NZ-only Study Finds Green IT Low on NZ Business Agenda

  • Technology contributes as much Co2 to planet as airline industry (Source: Gartner)

  • 65% say NZ must be environmentally sustainable to succeed in global economy

  • Australian businesses (61%) more likely to include IT in sustainability plans than NZ business (39%)

Auckland, New Zealand - Beyond recycling and energy-efficient light bulbs, two-thirds of New Zealand businesses are struggling to act sustainably, according to the first New Zealand research into ‘Green IT’ by IBM and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The IBM-commissioned study explored perceptions around organisations’ environmental
sustainability and the contribution of IT to organisational energy use. The total sample of 2302
respondents included a sub-group of 200 IT Managers. The survey data has been
used to compare New Zealand businesses’ attitudes to that of their counterparts in Australia
and around the world.

“With 30% of NZ companies citing energy as the fastest-growing business cost, businesses of all sizes should be concerned with controlling the power consumption of IT equipment to reduce their overheads and carbon footprint,” says Andrew Fox, IBM New Zealand’s Systems and Technology Group Manager. “Figures show the IT industry is contributing a staggering 2% of the planets’ carbon dioxide - equal to the airline industry.” (Source: Gartner)

New Zealand businesses appear to be behind the rest of the world in making IT a key part of their sustainability programmes. Only 39% of New Zealand businesses who had sustainability strategies included IT infrastructure as a key part of their strategies, compared to 61% of Australian organisations surveyed by IBM Australia in 2007.

“The research findings clearly show that New Zealand businesses are not leveraging substantial cost-saving opportunities from existing Green IT solutions available in the New Zealand market,” added Fox.

Popular sustainability activities
Of the organisations surveyed, 47% have introduced recycling programmes in the last year, 38% monitor their energy use, and 34% have tried to reduce their environmental impact through energy-efficient lighting. However, only a fifth (21%) of NZ businesses had a formal sustainable development strategy.

NZBCSD Chief Executive Peter Neilson believes that recycling and lighting have been popular because people’s awareness and understanding of the concept and environmental benefits is high. “New Zealand businesses have grasped the ‘low-hanging fruit’, but too few are aware of new computing approaches that offer similarly practical ways to save energy, money and have a greater environmental impact.”

Green Technologies
Holistic green IT solutions, such as IBM’s ‘Cool Blue Portfolio’, include green hardware, software and services solutions that provide optimised, low-impact computing for businesses of all sizes.

One of the most environmentally recognised technologies is virtualisation, yet just 15% of IT Managers believe it would reduce emissions from IT infrastructure without compromising IT performance levels.

“Clearly there is a need to provide businesses with more information about how they can attain affordable IT solutions that are cheaper to run and lower their carbon footprint,” says Fox.

Furthermore, the most common reason New Zealand IT Managers had for reducing emissions from IT was to reduce costs (45%), while 62% of Australian IT managers sought to reduce IT emissions out of concern for the environment.

“While both environmental and cost benefits are possible, this suggests that local IT departments aren’t well aligned with corporate or employee commitments. There is an opportunity for IT departments to contribute to corporate sustainability strategies, rather than just focus on cost containment,” says Fox.

The research also suggests that people consider the environment at home but less so at work. 72% of respondents consider the environment when making household purchases but only 48% say environmental considerations impact their procurement and decision making when making business purchases. However, IBM believes environmental impact will soon be a standard procurement criterion across IT and other industries. A key driver for this is the government’s initiative for six core government departments to be carbon neutral by 2012, with other departments to follow, and the mandate this creates for all businesses working with the government sector.

50% of organisations have made some operational changes to reduce their environmental impact or energy costs in the last 12 months, and while 54% of senior managers report that their company has an environmental or sustainable development strategy, only 21% of all respondents are aware that their organisation has such a strategy.

“Increasingly procurement will be based on organisation’s sustainability credentials so we need to raise the awareness of business to this trend. These attributes will enable organisations to attract new clients and retain existing ones both domestically and internationally. Getting this right will mean we can play and win in the global economy,” says Neilson.


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