Sustainable IT: Tips for Fostering a Green IT Environment

Sustainability is the hottest topic and it’s a pleasure to publish this blog from guest writer, Mark McCullough, marketing manager at Lexmark Canada.

Sustainability is a big buzz-word in today’s business world but what does it mean from an IT perspective? It goes without saying that engineering a “green” corporate environment must involve the entire organization, however, there are numerous ways the IT team can implement sustainable practices.

Monitor your Output

Establishing a responsible approach to printing is one of the easiest ways to make a significant reduction to your office’s carbon footprint. Think about how often a user prints a multi-page article when he only needs the information contained on a single page, or the amount of documents printed in error, or how many printed pages are often abandoned at a workstation. Most enterprise printing devices today contain several easy to use solutions that help foster a more intelligent approach to printing. For example, features like “Proof then Print” require users to preview the document prior to initiating the print feature, reducing waste resulting from unwanted pages. In addition to the obvious sustainability benefit of examining your printing processes, there is also a significant financial advantage realized when you encourage more responsible printing.

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

It’s relatively easy to recycle the paper waste your office generates. The same principles should be applied to other functions in the office. For example, what do you do with old computers, faxes and printers once they’ve been replaced with newer models? Many manufacturers offer free “end-of-life” recycling solutions where your old equipment will be collected, brought to a dedicated recycling facility and, in most cases, turned into a new product in some capacity. This is also true of the materials in your office technology—for example, toner, ink, fax ribbons, computer chips. The more you can incorporate recycling throughout your technology environment, the more you will do your part to lower your organization’s carbon footprint.

Consider the Cloud

One way to reduce the amount of electricity your company consumes is to move some of your data off-premise and to the cloud. With fewer servers on-site, you can cut down on your electricity bill—in some cases, significantly. According to a recent study conducted by Pike Research (Link to:, data center power consumption will decrease 31 percent between 2010 and 2020 as a result of the cloud computing model.

More Mobility

It’s an investment up front, but arming employees with technology to make them more mobile can also reduce your consumption overhead. For example, giving employees laptops to replace their desktops enables them to be just as productive from home as they would be at the office. With more mobile technology, when workers need to work late to complete a project they tend to leave the office at a normal time and pick the job back up at home. This allows companies to cut costs associated with keeping electricity and heat/AC running late, which is an unexpected green benefit.

Police your Policies

A lot of organizations have set policies governing technology use but IT managers aren’t always good about enforcing them. To foster sustainability within your organization, make sure employees are adhering to these by sending frequent reminders asking them to turn their computers off at night, make sure printers, faxes and other devices are set to power-saving mode and that desk lamps and all other technologies at individual workstations are turned off at the end of the day.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming an area of focus across the organization. By taking steps to ensure your IT practices include as many “green” components as possible, you can help your company achieve its larger corporate sustainability goals.

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