Thursday, March 6, 2014

CIO as Sustainability Champion

Mass panic following Chipotle’s recent announcement that rising avocado prices resulting from extreme drought may remove guacamole from menus in the future is a clear, albeit sensationalized, indicator of the increasing importance to business of managing the risks associated with climate change. 
Image via jamailac

Companies today must develop strategies to address the changing climate and the decreasing availability of natural resources to achieve long-term growth. Investors are also influencing companies to become more transparent about their environmental and social impact, according to a recent EY survey. Because of these factors, Triple Pundit reports that the majority of S&P 500 companies now issue sustainability reports.
While the majority of companies’ environmental impacts originate from their operations and require the COO’s involvement, making the Chief Information Officer (CIO) a key partner in developing a company’s sustainability strategy can improve results through implementation of new, high-tech solutions. Green IT solutions can improve a company’s bottom line and decrease its environmental impact in the following ways:
  • Monitoring energy use: Homes and businesses today have more options than ever before for monitoring energy use and implementing automated energy-saving programs. Today’s green buildings are full of technologies that reduce consumption of water and electricity, thus reducing bills.
  • Reducing travel through e-communication: By implementing strong videoconferencing and virtual communications tools, companies can cut down on travel, which is largely responsible for carbon emissions as well as timely and costly.
  • Maximizing technology’s lifespan: Replacing hardware is costly and generates significant, dangerous e-waste. Considering these costs when purchasing new equipment can help companies choose products that are more durable and last longer.
  • Recycling old technology: When computers and electronics are no longer useful in a business, they can provide tremendous value in underfunded schools and organizations worldwide. Nonprofits such as recycle, refurbish, and distribute unwanted electronics.
  • Safely disposing of e-waste: The fastest-growing stream of waste is from disposed electronic devices, which often have dangerous metals and toxins, as well as valuable materials. Ensuring that a company’s discarded electronics are properly recycled can reduce the environmental impact of hazardous waste products.
Throughout the next several months, this blog will explore in-depth several of the issues mentioned above, and more. The environmental problems of today and tomorrow cannot be addressed without using the full potential of Green IT.

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