Approaching IT in an eco-friendly way will not only result in a more environmentally-friendly organization, it will also enable your company to operate more efficiently and save money on such basic costs as paper and heating and cooling. To gain these dual benefits, organizations may want to consider implementing these green IT steps.
Adopt Server Virtualization
Virtualization decreases the number of servers required, thus saving on power and A/C. Virtual servers enable organizations to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications simultaneously on less physical hardware. As an example, think of collapsing four physical servers into four "virtual machines" that all run on only one physical server. The lack of need for three more physical servers fosters energy savings and lower capital expenses due to more efficient use of a firm's resources, as well as better server management, increased security and improved disaster recovery processes.
Establish IT Operations in a Hosted Environment
Hosting saves on electricity usage by reducing the number of redundant data center environments, thereby reducing the organization's carbon footprint. How would an organization transition to an IT hosting environment? First, choose a managed services provider who will work with you every step of the process – finding appropriate space, moving servers, coordinating system downtime during transition, and performing tests to ensure the hosted environment is functioning properly. Becoming part of a larger data center allows firms to avoid duplicating energy consumption by operating an entirely separate center just for their own servers.
With SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), a software vendor hosts a Web-based software application and operates it for use over the Internet. This helps enable telecommuting and potentially vastly extends the life of PCs, resulting in an energy savings as well as a reduction in the disposal rate of computer equipment.
By consolidating software into one location with a SaaS model, firms no longer need to maintain the systems infrastructure (i.e., building a server, retaining space to house the server, investing in server room air conditioning, etc.) to maintain the software separately, thereby reducing energy consumption. To take advantage of the SaaS model, firms simply choose a provider and utilize the service for a predictable monthly fee. Users also get anytime, anywhere access to their SaaS applications from any Internet-enabled computer.
Modify Printing Habits
One of the simplest ways to go green is to be mindful of the way in which you handle hard copy documents.
- Work towards a paperless office. Read and review documents and spreadsheets online, if possible, instead of printing them;
- Recycle paper you don't need, and purchase recycled paper for your office;
- Make it a habit to print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper, or drafts;
- Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever feasible.
Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy remanufactured ones. Refurbished printer toner cartridges cost 30-50% less than new ink cartridges and tests indicate that remanufactured printer cartridges produce more copies at a lower price per copy. These simple approaches to printing can go a long way in saving trees and energy. In fact, if offices throughout the country increased the rate of two-sided photocopying from 20% to 60%, they could save the equivalent of 15 million trees.
Becoming a more environmentally-friendly organization typically consists of making small changes over a period of time. Simply modifying your approach to hard copy documents is a good start. Little by little, your firm can save money, operate IT more efficiently and reduce your overall carbon footprint by implementing some, if not all, of the suggested "green" IT methods above. It's a win-win for everyone.