Green IT Adoption on the Rise: Forrester

In its quarterly look at green IT, Forrester found that as the global recession begins to ebb, businesses are starting to ramp up investments in green IT. And while the Obama administration has been making green technology a key tool for driving down greenhouse gas emissions, what's fueling the interest among IT professionals is not regulatory compliance, but costs-driving down energy and other IT-related expenses.

As the budgetary crunch brought on the by global recession begins to ease, enterprises are starting to refocus their efforts on green technology, according to a recent report from Forrester Research.

In its latest quarterly report on the subject, Forrester analysts are finding that steadily growing numbers of IT professionals are not only aware of vendor efforts to build greater energy-efficiency features into their products, but also are making green IT a part of their evaluation process, and also are implementing actions plans from implementing green IT products and practices.

"Looking back at the past three years of survey data on enterprise green IT adoption, it's clear that we are well beyond the fad or fashion stage," Forrester analyst Christopher Mines wrote in the Dec. 24 report. "Green IT practices ranging from energy efficiency to changed procurement criteria and application and infrastructure rationalization are well embedded in most corporate IT organizations. -Green IT' is well on its way to becoming just -IT.'"

Interest and spending in eco-friendly products took a dip earlier in 2009 as the recession took hold, but as recovery in IT industry began to thaw in the fourth quarter, interest in greater energy efficiency rose, Mines said.

Driving that interest is cost, he said. With the Obama administration in office, there has been increased talk about climate change issues such as energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. However, the role of the federal government in driving interest in green IT is relatively small, according to the report. Instead, the key driver now-as over the past two years-is money.

In particular, businesses are most interested in driving down energy costs-as noted by 66 percent of the 900-plus respondents from 602 organizations-and reducing other IT operating expenses (42 percent).

Only 16 percent of respondents-good for seventh on the list of drivers-noted regulatory compliance.

"[E]ven in the absence of significant regulatory or policy moves this year, good old-fashioned business motivators like profitability and customer demand will continue to push companies to adopt more sustainable processes and practices-in their IT organization and beyond," Mines wrote in a blog post Jan. 8.

Government agencies have been looking at the growing power consumption by the country's data centers. According to the Department of Energy, data centers accounted for 3 percent of all the energy consumed in the United State-about 120 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. And that will rise as more data centers are built and brought online, according to the federal agency.

It's what helped drive the DOE to hand out $47 million in grants Jan. 6 to 14 IT projects aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. data centers. Among the big winners were Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Yahoo.

However, costs are still the driving motivator, and more IT professionals are looking at what vendors are offering and are implementing green IT products more, according to the Forrester report.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they were very aware of vendor efforts to promote green IT in how they design, build or dispose of their products, while another 46 percent said they were somewhat aware.

"We think that many IT buyers are now expecting ongoing energy efficiency improvements, for example, in the same way that they expect improving price/performance ratios with each succeeding generation of technology they buy," Mines said in the report.

He said power efficiency capabilities in hardware and software are going to increasingly be taken for granted by IT professionals.

In addition, 56 percent of respondents said they include green IT criteria in their buying decisions of technology, a marked hike from the 25 percent who said so in 2007.

Still, despite the awareness of green IT, most businesses don't have a plan in place for implementing it, Forrester found. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they are implementing a green IT plan, but only another 19 percent said they are creating a plan.

Conversely, 30 percent said they are considering putting a plan in place, and another 23 percent said they had no plans.