Swap out CRTs for flat screens to save money, power

Tight IT budgets are putting the squeeze on green technology initiatives in the small and medium sized business sector but a recent report from technology product provider CDW names five key areas where sustainable tech is able to save organizations lots of money.

IT managers seeking budget for green technology can focus on the message of the cost savings advantage of energy efficient tools, said Dan Reio, director of marketing for CDW Canada.

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“There’s interest in green technology but it’s still not at a point where companies will pay a premium for green solutions,” Reio told ITBusiness.ca. “But if they (IT managers and vendors) can make a case for energy efficiency and reduced cost with a green undertone, then C-level executives will listen.”

For instance, he said, CDW’s 2010 Energy Efficiency Report indicates that majority of companies have realized substantial energy savings by simply replacing their CRT desktop monitors with new LCD models.

The report shows that energy efficiency is once more an important factor for IT managers when they purchase IT equipment. As many as 39 per cent of IT managers say energy efficiency is crucial in their choice of IT equipment. Last year, that number was down to 26 per cent from 34 per cent in 2008.

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The efforts are paying off, according to the survey. As much as 74 per cent of organizations have or are developing programs to manage and reduce IT energy use. Of this group about 56 per cent (up from 39 per cent in 2008) have reduced their IT energy cost by one per cent or more.

The surveyed was carried out by O’Keeffe & Company for CDW. Respondents were C-level IT decision makers as well as IT managers and supervisors from SMBs and large enterprise organizations. “These numbers primarily cover U.S. firms but they we generally get the same feedback on this matter from Canadian SMBs,” said Reio.

The top five energy saving measures popular with North American businesses are:

  • Replacing CRT monitors with LCDs (65 per cent)
  • Purchasing severs and other data centre equipment using low-power/low-wattage processors (64 per cent)
  • Buying computers that have low-power/low-wattage processors (59 per cent)
  • Making full use of power management tools in desktop computer operating systems (51 per cent)
  • Redesigning data centers to balance equipment and cooling needs (43 per cent)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. estimates that each basic office outfitted with an energy-efficient desktop computer, LCD monitor and multi-function device such as a printer/copier machine can save $365 throughout the life of the equipment.

Other cost-saving and environment saving approaches

Despite the scarcity of C-level buy-in, Reio of CDW said their survey also indicates that at least two-thirds of companies were doing at least one of the following to reduce IT energy use:

  • Deploying more power efficient core switches
  • Replacing edge and workgroup switches with more power efficient switches
  • Using the network as a platform to manage and reduce energy use
  • Adopting 10GB Ethernet and InfiniBand technologies
  • Reducing storage area network infrastructure by using Fibre-channel Over Ethernet
  • Moving to top-of-rack models for access layer switches

Barriers to greener IT budgets

Unfortunately, Reio said, other IT initiatives push green IT further down the list of priorities. As many as 32 per cent of IT managers surveyed, complained that they have too little budget left for green technology after meeting internal client demands. Another 32 per cent of respondents said senior management gave higher priority to other investments.

The findings seem to echo results of an earlier survey by Samsung Canada which indicated that while 80 per cent Canadian SMBs recognize the risks of not having an environmental sustainability program as many as 55 per cent of the companies did not have a formal recycling program or end-of-life (EOL) program for IT equipment.

“Comprehensive recycling and disposal programs are more evident in large enterprises that in smaller organizations that have smaller budgets,” said Mathew Weiner, Mississauga, Ont-based marketing manager for the IT solutions group of Samsung.

“The people who pay our energy bills do not pay attention to IT’s energy use,” was common refrain from about 31 per cent of the respondents to the CDW poll. They said they did not have a way to isolate and measure energy use.

Ironically, in some cases (16 per cent) when IT energy cost is reduced, the IT budget is cut by a corresponding amount.

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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