Corporate IT set to go greener

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Corporate IT set to go greener

UK firms facing with green legislation look to decrease emissions and build
green equipment.

The combined pressures of environmental legislation, rising energy costs and uncertainty over power sources are forcing UK firms and IT vendors to find ways to use less power, decrease harmful emissions and build “green” equipment.

Experts at June's meeting of the UK Datacentre Networking Group warned that the combination of a European directive on the energy performance of buildings, the UK government’s energy review and renewable planning policy, and London’s energy strategy will transform companies’ power usage in the future.

Mick Dalton, chairman of the British Institute of Facilities Management, said that datacentre owners running large amounts of IT equipment should plan for alternative power sources now and consider using combined heat and power (CHP) technology to reduce their emissions and electricity consumption. “We need to think about the movement away from a traditional model where huge power stations supply the demands of whole towns and cities, towards self-sufficiency for individual buildings,” he advised.

George Rockett, director of the UK Datacentre Networking Group, said that as one of the biggest consumers of power, datacentres are also a major contributor to greenhouse emissions. He argued that it is in companies’ interests to do everything possible to avoid legal penalties and negative publicity, while promoting corporate social responsibility on green issues.

While datacentre managers are looking for greener sources of power, IT equipment vendors are under equal pressure to use safer materials in their components.

Greenpeace last week hailed Dell’s decision to use fewer toxic chemicals in its products. Hardware makers are also preparing to have their green credentials checked under the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, which took effect on 1 July.

Dell recently promised to phase out brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) by 2009 in a move Greenpeace said was a response to its requests. “We’ve been asking the big brand names to change policies and go beyond what is required,” said Zeina al-Hajj of Greenpeace.

Greenpeace said firms such as HP, LGE, Nokia, Samsung, Sony and Sony Ericsson have pledged to eliminate the use of some hazardous chemicals in the wake of its campaigning. However, it noted that companies including Acer, Apple, Fujitsu Siemens, IBM, Lenovo, Panasonic, Siemens and Toshiba have not yet made such commitments.

Greenpeace also singled out Motorola as “the only one of the top five mobile manufacturers which has failed to commit to removing toxic components”.

The campaign group highlighted the results of a survey by Ipsos-Mori that suggested most PC buyers are willing to pay more for an environmentally-friendly PC. German buyers were willing to pay the smallest premium (£32) while Chinese buyers would pay the highest (£108). Britons said they would pay £75 more for a green PC.

“China was a big surprise,” said al-Hajj. “Our reading is it’s easier to see the problem in China where there are some of the most horrific [electronics disposal] sites.” The poll also found that respondents felt that environmental responsibility should fall on equipment makers.
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