The state of the green IT economy

green pound sign

Green is now more than a buzz word. With a recession demanding lower costs in every business and an overall push towards using less energy to halt climate change, it's now a reality.

So how is the UK faring in this new world? Well, if a green study by HP is to be believed, not that well - just 16 per cent of UK businesses have a green policy in place.

"One of the things we found in the UK specifically is that procurement staff don't really look for environmental factors a lot of the time," says Bruno Zago, HP's environment manager for UK and Ireland.

"When I see the tenders that a lot of the procurement managers send through, a lot of the large enterprises are sending out questionnaires around your environmental policy: what are you doing around carbon, what are you doing with your supply chain," he adds.

"But when you ask them how heavily they use that to weight their decision, the heaviest I've ever seen is about 10 per cent in a contract. But it's usually five per cent or below and that goes across enterprise and public sector as well."

Not everyone thinks it's down to procurement staff, however.

"I think it really does depend upon the corporation or the sector in which they operate," counters Stuart Davis, business manager for Epson UK.

"In the public sector, green issues are very much a part of the tender process. In some other corporations, it is true to say that cost saving blurs with green issues, so a green product may be chosen but more because of lower running costs than specifically because it has a lower energy consumption."

Recession boost for green IT?

With that implied cost saving, based on a lower overall use of energy, it's possible that the move to greener products could even survive any cuts forced by the economic recession.

"The recession came in and that put paid to the frothy greenwash approach to climate change and sustainability," says David Metcalfe, head of independent analyst Verdantix.

"What we're seeing now is much more a focus around cost reduction and the fact that sustainability is about resource efficiency and therefore about operational efficiency."