May 1, 2007 7:04 AM PDT

Computers as environment-unfriendly as planes?

The global IT industry accounts for 2 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions--the same amount the world's aviation industry churns out, according to analyst house Gartner.

The estimate is based on the cumulative amount of energy that PCs, servers, cooling systems, fixed- and mobile-phone systems, local-area networks, office telecommunications and printers use within the world's offices.

The estimate also includes all commercial and governmental IT, as well as telecommunications infrastructures worldwide, but it does not include consumer electronics other than cell phones and personal computers.

Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner, said technology companies will face increasing financial, environmental and legislative pressures to become more environmentally sustainable over the next five years.

Few IT management teams are aware of environmental and corporate social-responsibility policies already in place, and they have not mapped out the impact of the business' activities on the environment, Mingay added.

And the people buying technology for businesses do not fully understand the environmental impact and life cycles of products and services because of a lack of commercial and legislative incentives, according to Garter.

But technology purchasers are beginning to factor in green measures. Garter predicts that more than a third of IT organizations will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying conditions by 2010.

Reducing energy consumption and the use of hazardous substances throughout the life cycle of a product or service, and upping recycling efforts, are key areas to help businesses buy greener, Gartner said.

Gemma Simpson of Silicon.com reported from London.

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6 comments

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Benefit risk
How much energy is SAVED by using IT?

How much efficiency is added to work processes?
How many trips to library are saved by doing work online?

IT improves our lives on a daily, almost hourly basis.
Posted by DoughboyNJ (77 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Very true.
Also, for me personally, at least, it has cut down on my use of
paper tremendously while providing lots of information that I
would not otherwise have. The paperless office is far from
universal, of course, but even there it cut down on the paper I
had to use in the office by a lot. Got so I rarely printed much.
And using a laptop instead of desktop probably saved energy as
well. Plus, the amount of energy used per unit of computing, etc,
has gone down by orders of magnitude over the last 20 years, I'll
hazard a guess.

Besides, how much of the total CO2 does air travel generate,
anyway? A quick look at the web shows around 2 percent. We
could use the existing IT system to virtual-travel our way out of
a lot of flying if we wanted to.
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
Link Flag
I wonder how much money
was spent doing this rediculous study. What are we going to do? Quit doing business? Turn off our servers? I don't think so. Slow our processors? Nope, not that either. I hope that I didn't pay for that through my taxes but I have a sinking feeling that I did. I can't wait to see what stupid law gets proposed to screw with the IT profession.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Pay Gartner To Leave Us Alone
Gartner is going to bother everybody he can until
he gets a nice paying job or his pro-ecological
piece of bs book starts selling great. Let him win his black-mail plan to get rid of him.
Posted by bobbydi (51 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gartner's Next Paper...Allied Victory In WWII
Gartner publishes the obvious as revelations that everybody is unaware of.
It just numbs my brain when I see a Gartner paper and see that most of this info is either biased or so blatently obvious.
Most IT "worker-level" personnel are a step ahead of Gartner and their publications.
If management asked their own personnel for these same reports they would come out a world ahead since the particular business model would be taken into consideration and the obvious exposed as obvious and not the basis for a publication.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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