If your company is pushing a green IT infrastructure strategy, you have a new set of green IT criteria to consider when purchasing IT hardware. Your company has likely set requirements for things like energy use and recyclability such as requiring that all new desktop systems meet Energy Star requirements or that the manufacturer must provide a recycling program. But you may also wish to consider the vendors' own sustainability position. Do they practice what they preach and sell?
If your company has decided to focus on sustainability, you're almost
certainly including green criteria in your buying decisions for IT hardware.
Odds are you've set requirements for things such as energy use and
recyclability-specifying that all new desktop systems meet Energy Star requirements,
for example, or that the manufacturer provide a recycling program. That's a big
step forward, but it's important to understand that it's just a start.
One of the less obvious, but potentially more important, green strategies is
to add a requirement that the manufacturers you buy from are also taking
sustainability issues seriously. After all, if everyone buys only from
manufacturers that are making a serious effort to go green, it will only
encourage other manufacturers to do the same. Here are some of the things you
might want to ask the companies you buy from. Not so incidentally, if your
company is serious about committing to sustainability, it might want to
consider adopting some of these ideas itself.
1. Does the Company Have an Official Sustainability Policy?
As the old saw goes, actions speak louder than words. That said,
however, having an official corporate sustainability policy indicates an
awareness of green issues and a stated intention to take them into
Canon, for example, has had a written Canon
Group Environmental Charter
since 1993, most recently updated in
2006. Among other points, it includes an intent to buy products that have
a lower environmental burden and also encourages the collection and recycling
of Canon's own products at the end of their lifetimes. Ask the companies you
deal with if they have their own formal policies. If they do, ask whether
they're posted on the Web, so you can see them.
2. Who's in Charge of Sustainability Issues?
Having a corporate concern for sustainability is all well and good, but
knowing who's in charge can tell you a lot about how much the company really
cares about turning that concern into action. For example, InfoPrint (the
joint venture between IBM and Ricoh) has a chief
sustainability officer. As the company points out, putting a high-level
official in charge of green issues helps ensure that both the individual and
the issues have the clout internally to make a difference.
3. Does the Company Make an Effort to Educate?
Arguably nothing tells you how seriously a company takes green issues as its
commitment to educating both its employees and potential customers on the
subject. Teaching employees the importance of sustainability will tend to
make them sensitive to green issues on the job. And once you've taught
customers that sustainability matters, it will be hard to persuade them to buy
products that don't take it into account.
Canon, for example, includes increasing the environmental awareness of its
employees in its charter, as well as "encouraging environmental protection
initiatives on an individual level." Outside of the company, Canon
has donated textbooks on green issues to Japanese schools and has participated
in seminars and forums on the subject. In the United
States and Canada,
it has sponsored an environmental competition, the Canon Envirothon, for high
school students since 1997. Ask the companies you deal with what they do
to educate employees and consumers about green issues.