Developing a Sustainable IT Ecosystem: A CIO’s Guide to Green Technology

by | Apr 8, 2024 | CIO Best Practices

Many people consider digital as a sustainable option. You save money on paper products reducing the reliance on natural resources. It minimizes waste in the workplace.

However, digital systems can also harm the environment. They consume energy. If items aren’t disposed of correctly, they can end up in landfills and emit toxins into the environment.

It is a CIO’s responsibility to take the helm and create a sustainable IT ecosystem in their company. Doing so will help the environment and improve the organization’s reputation. They must take crucial steps to guide their business forward in an eco-friendly fashion.

Why is an IT Ecosystem Important?

An IT ecosystem is not only about saving the planet. It is crucial to your company’s reputation. Statistics show that 79% of consumers would switch providers to work with sustainable companies. 46% of employees would only work for a company with sustainable practices in place.

Despite these alarming statistics, only 18% of companies have clear sustainable IT guidelines. Many say they lack the resources to adopt environmental initiatives. They fail to integrate a bottom-up approach which is necessary in eco-friendly business practices.

Reducing Energy Use is a Key

Perhaps the biggest environmental threat posed by an increased reliance on digital is excessive energy use. Eight hours of computer use results in 146 kilowatt hours of energy use a year consuming natural resources and raising utility bills. Companies can keep energy use to a minimum with the following practices:

  • Disconnect External Devices: Disconnect printers, headphones, webcams, and other external devices when they are not in use. They add to energy consumption.
  • Use Smart Strips: Smart Strips are like any other power strips, but their circuits monitor the power consumption of the devices. It can electronically unplug devices when not in use, so they stop drawing energy. It eliminates the need to unplug devices that aren’t active.
  • Adjust Computer Settings: You can adjust computer settings to improve energy efficiency. For example, you can set your monitor and hard drive so they shut off after several minutes of non-use. You can also save energy by lowering your screen’s brightness.
  • Shut Down and Unplug Computers When Not in Use: If you aren’t using a smart strip, you should shut down and unplug your computer and peripherals when you are done for the day. Leaving them plugged in consumes energy.
  • Use a Charger When Actively Charging Only: We often leave chargers plugged into our laptops, even when they are fully charged. In addition to harming the battery, plugged-in chargers also consume power, even if they are not connected to a device. Minimize energy use by using a wall outlet with a timer or plug your charger into a smart strip so it automatically charges down.
  • Choose Energy Star Devices: Energy Star products are known for their energy efficiency. Each product has a star rating- the more stars the product has, the more energy efficient it is. Studies show using an Energy Star computer can yield savings between $7 and $52 in yearly energy use per device.

These guidelines should not be left up to leaders alone. Employees should be aware of the steps they must take to increase eco-friendliness throughout their organization. Sustainability should be part of the company culture and can be emphasized through training programs, digital literacy, and awareness campaigns.

Controlling E-Waste

E-waste is also an environmental concern. Many companies do not dispose of electronic devices properly. They end up contributing to landfills and emitting toxins in the environment.

Organizations can cut back on e-waste by working with accountable vendors that provide recycling resources. They may also consider donating devices to nonprofit organizations or refurbishing centers. Check on local regulations to find out the best ways to recycle in your area.

Sustainability as a Holistic Approach

Sustainability should not be a quick-fix solution based on new initiatives and regulator responses. It must be part of a well-thought-out business model that considers impact across departments. It must be based on data that is collected over time and continuously monitored to ensure the company is following best practices.

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