At this point, you may be ready to go out and uproot a tree with your bare hands after hearing the incessant promotion surrounding "green IT." It seems as though every second manufacturer and service provider has the best solution for reducing your carbon footprint or your energy costs or to improve some aspect of your terribly inefficient, ice cap-melting, polar bear-stranding business.
Sure, it's great to be green, or at least say it, but where should small and business owners go to get an understanding of what policies and practices work best? What can Uncle Sam do to help midmarket companies, and what can the private sector do better? What follows is a list of 10 Web sites that can help you get started down the path to a smarter, more environmentally friendly workplace.
The GPN, a site run by the U.S. Department of Energy, provides news and information on green power markets and related activities. In addition to providing up-to-date information on green power news, it offers a reference library on subjects like green power marketing. A free monthly newsletter also keeps you informed on news and events concerning green power, and the site posts solicitations for renewable energy generation, renewable energy certificates and green power solutions. If your company is in the business of providing energy-efficient solutions, this may be your forum of opportunity.
NERIC (National Electronics Recycling Infrastructure Clearinghouse)
A jointly funded project of the NCER (National Center for Electronics Recycling) and the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), this two-year-old site offers research and education on electronics recycling systems. As more major electronics manufacturers focus on adaptive reuse and recycling, this can be a great resource for discovering which companies have programs in place. Another handy feature is a state-by-state guide to electronics recycling laws.
Sure, the term "carbon footprint" gets thrown around all the time, but how does one actually figure out the size and shape of an office's emissions? TrendPoint's EnviroCube and EnerSure products allow you to monitor your office's electronic environment. The EnviroCube tracks your data room's environmental metrics like humidity and temperature. The EnerSure product lets you track your power metrics at the circuit level. TrendPoint also offers a selection of white papers containing information on topics such as energy and heat measurement and how to increase data center energy efficiency.
Computer TakeBack Campaign
Are you interested in keeping an eye on which computer manufacturers are environmentally responsible? This national group of nonprofit organizations promotes responsible recycling and green design in the electronics industry, and advocates for corporate product responsibility and first-rate electronics recycling programs. The Web site provides a guide to computer and television manufacturers that offer takeback programs and suggests policies for creating more opportunities for consumers and business to participate in "responsible recycling."
IBM's Green IT Web site
An easily navigable, information-packed site offering IBM's wealth of knowledge of green IT, including extensive reports on environmental efforts, energy-efficient products and practices, and green innovations. Podcasts and videos give the site a professional, multimedia flavor, and an energy-efficiency benchmark tool set gives you the opportunity to measure how well your company is doing in a wide range of sustainable IT infrastructure issues.
Power management software vendor Verdiem helps SMBs track their PC energy consumption. After determining an energy-use baseline with the company's Surveyor software, Verdiem analyzes the baseline to identify desktop usage patterns and areas of waste. The company then calculates cost savings using internationally accepted energy measurement and verification methodologies verified by third parties. Importantly, Verdiem's CECA (Computer Energy Consumption Analysis) provides your company with an understanding of how long it will take to achieve a return on a green investment, before you actually invest in a particular solution.
Started in 1992 as a joint project by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, EnergyStar specifications can ensure that your business is using the most energy-efficient appliances and products. The Web site breaks information down by product type and work environment, offering guidelines for energy management and commercial building design. The EPA's Target Finder tool helps business owners set aggressive but realistic energy targets and also rate a building design's estimated energy use. The site is a particularly good place to start for the SMB owner who's looking to reduce energy costs through smart appliance purchases.
This combination print, radio and TV site offers daily news and information on sustainable business practices and green business in general. The site has an SMB-specific section where small business owners can find out how their energy investment can be best put to use. This Web site is the leading Greener World Media offering, though the company also publishes GreenerBuildings.com, ClimateBiz.com and GreenerComputing.com-all of which your small business may find useful. A free weekly newsletter keeps you well informed of the top green business issues.
Planet Metrics uses carbon as the basis for a suite of performance indicators used to determine the efficiency of your business and where improvements can be made. The company's CIM (Carbon Information Management) solutions can help you begin to develop and implement a business strategy for sustainability. Planet Metrics employs a SAAS (software as a service) model which allows it to deploy solutions in under 30 days without the need for hardware investment and IT involvement. For its next project, Planet Metrics will measure and report on the amount of carbon and greenhouse gas emissions caused by the upcoming CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas in January.
EPA Small Business Gateway
The EPA's Web site dedicated to SMBs breaks down into six main parts, including resources for environmental assistance, technical help and a welcome section titled "The Bottom Line: Saving and Finding Money". A general information link offers SMB owners excellent resources for getting started on green IT initiatives, and the EPA's Small Business Ombudsman provides documents, guidance and explanations of environmental regulations.