The first wave of green IT solutions failed to make sustainability benefits tangible according to a new study conducted on the sector by the  independent research firm Verdantix. However, innovative IT sustainability solutions just released into the market or on the horizon for 2010 – will quickly demonstrate the tech sector’s role in supporting corporate sustainability strategies.

“Sustainability and green IT became mainstream business issues in 2007. To capitalize on this glorious marketing opportunity technology vendors rushed to coat existing solutions with a green gloss” said Verdantix Director and IT industry veteran David Metcalfe. “While this makes perfect sense from a marketing perspective, claimed sustainability benefits were rarely proven. The Verdantix analysis of 24 different sustainable technology categories finds that only 16 per cent demonstrate significant sustainability benefits.”

By assessing IT solutions across the entire product lifecycle, from R&D to retirement, the report provides a picture of technology offerings that measure or manage greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy demand or promote energy efficiency, support the roll out of renewable energy, improve climate change risk assessment, cut road vehicle or aviation fuel use and eliminate waste from supply chains. This comprehensive view of the tech sector’s role avoids a narrow focus on data centers and desktops.

The analysis of the total portfolio of sustainable IT solutions clearly indicates that innovative products designed to deliver sustainability benefits will hit the market in 2010. Key growth markets for the tech sector’s bid for sustainability budgets from 2010 to 2012 include:

* Digital smart meters for corporate energy management. In the US and Europe a combination of mandatory greenhouse gas reporting and energy efficiency programs makes digital smart meters a hot sector for corporate demand. Smart meter vendors like Energate, Itron and Trilliant will benefit from growth in industrial, commercial and government sectors.

* Carbon management business intelligence. A glut of GHG reporting legislation combined with expectations of carbon prices rising to 40 euros will drive demand from CFOs for granular, activity-based energy and carbon data management. The opportunity for systems integrators like Capgemini, CH2M HILL and IBM will grow steadily from 2010 onwards.

* Substitution of video presence for air travel. Telecoms operators like Orange Business Services and Verizon and equipment vendors like Cisco and HP have had two years to learn how to substitute video presence for air travel. From 2010 enterprises will implement video presence as part of a sustainable business process which cuts air travel expenses and associated emissions. The entry of the aviation sector into the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme in 2012 will accelerate demand.

* Fresh air cooled data centres. Building new data centers is a slow and costly business – but the trend to move to cooler locations will continue and strengthen. Fears about sky-rocketing data centre energy costs in a post-recession economy, standards like the EU code of conduct on data centers and competition between outsourcing firms to win sustainability credentials will drive activity. Every outsourcer and telecoms firm that is serious about sustainability will need an operational green data centre by 2010.

“Over the last 2 years, despite the noise from high decibel green IT marketing the reality is that the tech sector has only just got out of the starting blocks on delivering innovative solutions to support corporate climate change and sustainability programs” commented Metcalfe. “The market transition triggered by resource scarcity and climate change will create multi-billion dollar growth opportunities for software, hardware and IT services firms. But tech sector executives need to stop drinking from the poisoned chalice of green IT marketing and focus instead on the real revenue-generating opportunities.”

© 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.