Three Ways Forward-Thinking Companies are Going Green

Three Ways Forward-Thinking Companies are Going Green

Going "green" is the right decision for many companies -- and since consumption of electricity is one of the biggest contributors to any company's carbon footprint, your IT department provides ample opportunities for reducing your impact on the environment.

Making efforts to decrease your company's carbon footprint tells your customers that you are serious about environmental stewardship -- and it can also have several more immediate and tangible benefits.

The changes that your company makes to reduce its carbon footprint may:

  • Reduce your operating expenses by cutting utility bills and lowering IT department costs
  • Increase employee happiness by creating a better working environment
  • Increase your company's efficiency by reducing reliance on slow computers that require frequent repairs

Let's look at some of the ways in which your company can take steps toward becoming more sustainable.

Upgrade Your Old Computers

When did your company last update the computers at workers' desks? A 2013 Intel survey found that 36 percent of small businesses use computers that are more than four years old. Intel's survey also found that repairs on older computers cost employees up to 21 hours of lost productivity per year.

Is your company still using older tower computers with noisy fans and flickering CRT monitors? Upgrading to newer, more efficient computers with LCD displays can reduce your power consumption and lower ambient noise in the office. Switching to efficient notebook computers can reduce noise and power consumption even further.

When you upgrade your office's computers, recycle them after cleansing the hard drives thoroughly. Many companies specialize in recycling obsolete electronics.

Go Mobile

In most offices, a typical paper document has a lifespan of just one day.

Less than 24 hours after printing, the document is in the recycling bin.

One reason why small businesses continue to rely heavily on paper is those typing annotations and emailing a document is often much slower than simply printing the document and bringing it to a coworker's desk. Tablets can enhance your employees' ability to work collaboratively by giving them an easy way to show documents to one another.

Although giving mobile devices to employees is a great way to reduce paper usage, doing so can potentially have an even greater benefit by giving some employees the ability to work remotely.

Do you really need all of your employees to come to your office every day, or could some people handle calls or work on documents just as easily at home?

A 2010 AT&T study concluded that implementing telepresence technology could help the world's corporations slash their fuel costs by billions of dollars and reduce carbon emissions by millions of metric tons.

Move to the Cloud

Does your company run its website, customer database, online store and other services from in-house servers? Server computers -- especially older ones -- are notorious for having high power requirements -- and your company doesn't just use electricity to power its servers.

It's likely that your servers also greatly increase your office's cooling requirements.

The larger your company is, the more data you need to store. A 2010 study found that large corporations could lower their carbon footprints by as much as half if they moved their in-house services to the cloud.

Why is moving to the cloud the right choice for a company that wants to go green? In the United States, data centers represent about 2 percent of our total power usage. The power requirements of data centers are enormous, so technology companies have focused their efforts on improving the efficiency of data center technology.

How efficient are today's data centers? Worldwide Internet traffic grew by:

  • 28.8 times from 2000-2005
  • 8.3 times from 2005-2010
  • 2.96 times from 2010-2014

Although total Internet traffic continues to grow exponentially, the yearly growth of data center power usage is actually shrinking.

While companies continue to build new data centers every year, the total power usage of data centers in the United States increased by just 4 percent from 2010-2014. Server hardware is more efficient than ever, and many data centers now use renewable energy to offset or replace fossil fuel consumption.

Unless you have a plan for running at least half of your office on renewable energy, migrating to the cloud is probably the best thing that you can do today to reduce your carbon footprint.