A new study released recently by Deloitte and CFO Research Services highlights the current and emerging interdependencies between IT and enterprise sustainability performance. The study, titled “The Next Wave of Green IT,” surveyed 353 senior finance, IT and business unit executives at companies with revenues of $500 million to more than $10 billion throughout Europe, North America and China to explore how large companies around the world view IT’s role in the future of enterprise sustainability.

As companies around the world prepare for a carbon-constrained economy, business leaders are increasingly employing Green IT strategies in efforts to reduce energy use, cut carbon emissions and mitigate exposure to risks associated with energy price volatility, pending regulatory demands, and increased transparency and reporting requirements driven by shareholder activism.

“Green IT is undoubtedly playing an increasingly important role as both a target and enabler of enterprise sustainability,” said Lynda Pak, director with Deloitte Consulting LLP and Green IT lead for Deloitte U.S.’s Enterprise Sustainability group. “Beyond the proven benefits of reduced energy use and associated costs, IT is becoming a key mechanism for enterprise-wide sustainability measurement, reporting, compliance and risk management related to regulatory uncertainty and other risk factors. However, there is room for improved communication and collaboration across the enterprise.”

When asked if their companies have complete, accurate and timely information on IT’s impact on the environment, 40 percent of IT respondents, 43 percent of business unit respondents and 60 percent of finance respondents reported in the negative.

Additional key findings from the study include:

* More than nine out of 10 companies have made at least incremental — if not aggressive — efforts to reduce their impact on the environment.
* Nearly three in five respondents say their company has at least 5 percent of their IT budget set aside for Green IT projects and more than one-third of companies say they’ve allocated 15 percent or more to Green IT.
* Thirty-two percent of respondents have a formal Green IT program in place, while 34 percent are planning to launch a Green IT program within a year.
* Forty percent of respondents have not established a baseline for IT’s environmental performance.
* Two-thirds of respondents say their company has a formal program in place for measuring, monitoring and improving its environmental performance.
* Three-quarters of respondents say a formal review of business impact on the environment has been conducted in the last two years.

“Companies clearly want to do more to lessen their environmental impact,” added Pak. “Doing so, however, will require a more holistic and informed approach to enterprise sustainability, beginning with a high-level vision supported by the board of directors and senior management, and alignment with business strategy. The name of the game moving forward is about using the ‘Information’ in Green IT to help make strategic decisions and to deliver value by driving growth and efficiency through the sustainable enterprise.”

“Worldwide, we anticipate an increase in governmental tax credits and other incentives that will help drive increased investment in enterprise sustainability and Green IT,” said Winstanley. “However, when more stringent regulatory and reporting requirements around energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are put into place, those incentives may well disappear. Companies should take advantage now or risk missing out on the many new business opportunities that will likely accompany a sustainability-driven market rebound.”

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.