When does green technology move from feelgood marketing-speak to something more actionable? When it turns into the kind of green that feels good in your wallet.

For IT professionals with static or shrinking budgets, green technology ultimately means energy efficiency, reduced power consumption and reduced costs. Today's technologies such as virtualisation, storage optimisation, Energy Star-qualified products and power management solutions, among others, have the potential to reduce energy use immediately, without waiting for the dreaded long term return on investment (ROI).

According to CDW's 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report, 52% of organisations actively working to reduce energy consumption reduced their IT energy costs by 1% or more. Depending on the size of the enterprise, that 1% could translate into big savings.

By implementing all available energy saving measures company-wide, business IT professionals believe they could reduce IT energy costs by an average of 17%, which translates into $900,000 worth of savings for for the standard enterprise, according to the report.

What's working?

There is no single silver bullet when it comes to energy efficiency. While most organisations care about reducing energy consumption and acknowledge the opportunity for significant savings, success comes only with sharp, persistent focus on energy-efficiency opportunities throughout the IT environment.

The report found that IT executives responsible for the IT energy bill tend to take the longer term view and are twice as likely to place high importance on energy efficiency in the purchasing process as executives who do not own the IT energy bill. At successful organisations, management and IT make energy efficiency a shared priority via three tactics – they ask, assign and incent:

  • Ask IT to Manage: Organisations that asked their IT department to reduce energy costs have seen significant results – 57% reduced costs by 1% or more vs. just 39% of organisations that did not ask IT to make a change.

  • Assign IT Responsibility: 60% of organisations in which IT is responsible for the amount and cost of energy used in IT operations have taken specific action to reduce energy consumption, compared to 24% of organisations without IT accountability.

  • Incent IT Success: Organisations in which the IT department is incented to improve IT energy efficiency are more likely to make energy reduction a priority – 58% vs. just 30% of those who are not incented.

Additionally, the report found that respondents also reduced energy costs by focusing on energy efficiency in the purchase and management of IT equipment, employing measures including:

  • Buying equipment with low-power/low-wattage processors and multiple cores
  • Using network-based power management tools
  • Using software tools within uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) to monitor power demand and energy use
  • Monitoring data centres remotely to keep lights off when employees are not on site
  • Managing cable placement to reduce demand on cooling systems
  • Implementing server and storage virtualisation to reduce the number of servers and storage devices drawing power