Making Green IT Palatable For The Business: Should You Call Green IT, “Green IT”?

Dougwashburn In many of my recent interactions with both enterprise IT end users and vendors, the notion of calling Green IT something other than “Green IT” occurs with fair consistency. Some of the variations to Green IT that I’ve come across purposely call out an environmental agenda, i.e. Greener IT, Sustainable IT, and Eco-Efficient IT. While others are purely business such as Efficient IT, Energy Efficient IT, or Lean IT.

This very debate came up during a panel I hosted at last week’s Next Generation Data Center Conference, and it reminds me of a book I came across called the “The Sneaky Chef: How To Hide Healthy Foods In Kid's Favorite Meals.” The premise is that parents can encourage healthy eating habits in the children by “hiding” healthy foods in meals that kids already love — without their kids’ knowledge. For example, brownies spiked with spinach or chocolate pudding laced with avocado.

So how should you decide to message your Green IT initiative? My standard response is that it depends on your audience:

  • Use “Green” if your organization has stated green ambitions. If your organization has a broad sustainability initiative in place, using Green IT — or another derivative highlighting the environmental angle — is worthwhile since it confirms alignment to broader business initiatives. Your conversation should go something like this: “Since combating global climate change is a company priority, our Green IT Strategy is expected to reduce our annual CO2 emissions by (fill in the blank) pounds, and at the same time saving us (fill in the blank) dollars annually.”
  • Consider deviating from “Green” if your organization has not stated any green ambitions. If your organization does not have a formal sustainability platform in place, adopt the mentality of the “Sneaky Chef” by focusing on the economic benefits — such as cost savings or cost avoidance — since you know it will resonate with the business (the equivalent of brownies and chocolate pudding to kids). Your conversation should go something like this: “Our Efficient IT Strategy is expected to save (fill in the blank) dollars annually, while at the same time reduce annual CO2 emissions which contribute to global climate change by (fill in the blank) pounds.”

As a final recommendation, regardless of what you decide to call Green IT, ensure that you back yourself up with solid measurement and reporting. Whether your goal is to save the environment or improve the bottom line, quantify these savings — be it pounds of CO2 emissions avoided or a reduction in energy related operating expenses.

By Doug Washburn

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