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Green technology isn’t delivering

Only 16% of green IT offerings that companies use to manage their carbon
footprint and sustainability performance have shown any significant
sustainability benefits,
a
new study claims
.

The first independent study into environmental technology and its business
benefits, by Verdantix, examined various types of sustainability technology
including carbon management software, climate risk applications, sustainability
performance management software and online carbon footprint calculators. The
study looked into their returns on investment, their sustainability merits, who
uses them and for how long.

The first wave of green IT solutions failed to make sustainability benefits
tangible,” says Verdantix director David Metcalfe: “During 2007 and 2008, the
technology sector focused on out-marketing the competition, with flimsy green IT
promises. Sustainability and green IT became mainstream business issues in 2007.
To capitalise on this glorious marketing opportunity, technology vendors rushed
to coat existing solutions with a green gloss.”

ROI unclear

Verdantix found little evidence of a return on investment for sustainability
performance management systems and marked out the need for a clearer outline on
how to report on greenhouse gas emissions to obtain any real business benefits
for companies.

It did add that carbon management software provides the most value for
businesses in the complex energy and emissions management market. It also
concluded that, while the business value is unproven, it is only a matter of
time before that becomes clear.

“The next wave of technology offerings will provide CFOs with accurate
real-time energy and emissions data,” the report forecasts, “as well as creating
a new type of competition, ‘out-greening’ each other. Innovative IT
sustainability solutions just released into the market or on the horizon for
2010 will quickly demonstrate the technology sector’s role in supporting
corporate sustainability strategies.”

The report highlighted four upcoming hotspots for green business IT:

  • Digital smart meters for corporate energy management;
  • Carbon management business intelligence;
  • Substitution of video presence for air travel; and
  • Fresh air-cooled data centres.

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