Green IT: What Does it Mean?

green itGreen IT is defined to create more environmentally friendly ways to manufacture, use and dispose of computer equipment in our homes and offices around the world. The steps toward minimizing the environmental impact from our digital world is one that’s not as easy as it appears. When you realize how much computers are relied upon today and made in specific ways, it becomes complicated in changing their environmental footprint.

While the manufacturing materials of our computers probably won’t change in the immediate term, computers can still be recycled so the materials used in them can be used in new products. Unfortunately, the metals of gold and copper used in computers aren’t recovered as much as they should be. On Greenitweek.org, it’s noted that computers contain more chemicals than you likely ever knew, and those can end up in the environment when a computer isn’t recycled responsibly.

Here are some simple and easy steps businesses can do to support the Green IT movement:

  • Purchase electronic equipment that is energy star compliant.
  • Support electronics vendors who have a sustainability focus and program.
  • Turn off all computers and electronic equipment at night. This can save over $100 per piece of equipment per year.
  • Support electronics vendors who take back their equipment and recycle responsibly.
  • Use an e-waste vendor to recycle electronics responsibly. You can find a national database of proper recycling centers for computers through the General Services Administration.

Sustainability Planning Important to Your Small Business Growth

Sustainability planning might seem like a lot for a small business to take on; however, it is an important step in being competitive. Yes, it may mean devoting important resources – time, money, and labor – that you would rather spend somewhere else. But ultimately, as the larger players adopt green practices, smaller businesses will need to join the fray or fall behind.

Some of the figures we found suggest that small businesses can:

  • Save 20% on energy bills just by making changes, such as turning off lights in the evening and taking advantage of more natural sunlight (startups.co.uk)
  • Reduce energy costs up to 60% by replacing inefficient electrical equipment with high-tech electro-technologies (Energy Cost Savings Council)
  • Borrow millions to “build, buy, or retrofit” their facilities from the Small Business Administration (SBA)  with energy saving technology and reduce their energy use by 10% (Kiplinger)

According to a 2011 MIT study, “Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point,” two-thirds of participants indicated sustainability was a big part of being competitive. This number is up from 55% in the 2010 survey. Additionally, the 2010 smallbiztrends.com article, “Sustainability Scores and Small Business,” suggests large organizations…

…are assessing and selecting their suppliers based on environmental benchmarks…Small businesses hoping to work with these large corporations should anticipate questions about their environmental practices when they pitch company representatives, and thus be prepared with answers. The more details and real numbers you can mention, the better.

So as a small business owner you may be wondering what you should do to get started on a sustainability plan for your company. The smallbiztrends.com article, “Sustainability Planning for Business Owners,” suggests that once you’re ready to implement sustainability into your business, start with these five steps:

  • Review your current carbon footprint (this may require an audit by a consultant)
  • Determine where you can make changes
  • Identify steps you can take to make those changes
  • Establish deadlines for meeting each step
  • Revise your plan as necessary

Others, like the article, “The Key Elements to Prepare for a Sustainability Plan,” also suggest you make sure you have a clear understanding of key steps to take before beginning to plan.

The fact is that as more companies embrace a green way of doing business, it will become more important for your company to participate. So why not start now? Develop a sustainability plan to help your organization successfully trim costs and position it for future growth.