Logicalis have put together some advice on how to reduce the impact of IT on the environment. The suggestions range from reducing hardware requirements through virtualization and other consolidation techniques to old favorites like double-sided printing, video-conferencing, electronic forms and turning off your desktop at night.
One idea I hadn’t really thought of was the impact of data archiving strategies (or Information Life-Cycle Management as they grandly title it) on energy usage. Data needs hard drives need power. Choosing what to compress, archive and delete can have a major impact.
If you don’t think that powering down your PC at night can make a difference Global Action Plan’s recent report might open your eyes as it shows that the environmental impact of IT is almost identical to that of the much-maligned aviation industry.
Ultimately, as with so many environmental issues, the best solution is to make sure that the people who make the decisions are the same as (or at least aligned with) the people who are impacted. I’m not saying sys admins should go and live in the semi-submerged Bangladeshi delta. My advice is much simpler – make sure IT departments are responsible for their electricity bills. The most striking statistic in the “An Inefficient Truth” report (PDF 1.3MB) was that not only do 68% of IT departments not pay for the energy their systems consume, 56% of them don’t even see the bills.
Making environmentally sound decisions isn’t about warm fuzzy feelings – it’s about hard-nosed, joined-up, economic thinking.