Green Computing, Green Revenue

By Polly Traylor | Posted May 05, 2008

If you’re looking to save money and be more efficient, it's time to consider what the ever-present “green" movement means for your small business. At its core, it's the basic operating principle of managing resources and costs – swathed in an earthy robe.

Going green means operating in a way that uses the least amount of resources for the greatest gain; it’s about introducing practices that focus on conservation, reuse and the reduction of a company’s "carbon footprint." For small companies, achieving the latter goal could be as simple as creating telecommuting policies so that more employees can work at home instead of driving and, thereby, contributing to the brown cloud.

Did You Know?

 • In 2006, six months of sales of EPEAT-registered computers saved enough electricity to power 1.2 million U.S. homes for a year.(Source)

 • Two percent of worldwide carbon emissions comes from the IT industry, equivalent to the amount produced by the airline industry. (Source)

What's positive about all this green hype (which indeed, is not just a passing trend but the global economic reality of dwindling resources) is that typically, changes that you make in your business for the environment also generally save money and/or provide other business benefits.

Energy Star, a program funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help small businesses become more energy-efficient, reports that most small businesses can cut their energy costs by 30 percent – the same as a large company. 

And, green practices might be good for your staff retention plan: 52 percent of 2,000 workers surveyed by Adecco USA, a Melville, N.Y.-based human resources firm, said they felt their employers should be taking more steps to reduce or recycle.

Technologically, getting started on green computing practices takes zero or little financial investment.  In this article we'll talk about some ways to quickly ramp up on green IT practices. 

Five Simple Ways to Get Started with Green IT

1. Buy Green.

Perhaps the easiest way to get started is to buy energy-efficient electronics when it's time to upgrade or purchase new equipment.  Energy Star-rated computers, printers and other technology products use as much as 60 percent less electricity than standard equipment, according to the Energy Star Web site.

Over the next five years, Energy Star claims that these products will save Americans more than $5 billion dollars. Softchoice, a Toronto-based business-to-business reseller of IT products has designed a new site where you can compare and buy EPEAT products (EPEAT.net is a rating service for electronics that collaborates with Energy Star). The site includes a calculator to determine your energy savings from purchasing the energy-efficient products.

2. Manage Your Power

Take a look at your control panel on your desktop, and it’s likely you'll see everything you need in a few simple clicks to manage power better on your PC. Your business can save $45 per PC annually, simply through automatic shutdown capabilities, says Melissa Quinn, sustainability programs manager for Softchoice. (Read how GE, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, North Thurston Public Schools and others are saving as much as $75 per computer annually simply by activating power management).

Next Steps:

  • To maximize power savings, the EPA recommends setting computers to enter system standby or hibernate after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity.
  • To save even more, set monitors to enter sleep mode after five to 20 minutes of inactivity.
If your equipment does not have power management features, you can download the free Energy Star Power Management Software.

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