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Six steps to reducing IT's carbon footprint

A national advocacy group for state CIOs recently released a report recommending ways IT leaders can become IT environmental advocates.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) believes CIOs should be on the frontlines of their states' environmental programs and policies. The organization, which advocates for technology policy, urges its members to take steps now to become leaders in reducing their states' carbon footprints, issuing a 17-page brief on ways to do that.

Although specific to state CIOs, NASCIO's recommendations can be employed by large organizations as well. Here are the group's tips for getting started:

Develop a plan: States that have developed green IT plans, including Missouri, Kansas and Oregon, have incorporated ideas for green efforts in nearly every aspect of their state CIOs' jurisdictions. These include purchasing equipment, recycling, and consolidating and virtualizing data centers, among other areas. Reaching out to states that have developed plans can help put you on the path toward implementing green IT initiatives.

Establish a baseline and determine a metric: Before you move a project forward, ascertain where your state is on energy consumed, greenhouse gas emitted, etc. Developing a baseline and a way to measure progress can be built into a total carbon footprint reduction plan at the outset of an initiative, For state data centers: The Green Grid and other industry groups have published a metric that can tell state CIOs how much energy is spent on the productive use of IT versus wasted on the physical infrastructure.

Track and monitor success: Once a metric is determined, continue to track and monitor a project's success rate. For example, in following a data center consolidation initiative, examining the energy usage rate prior to consolidation and then comparing that to energy usage in the aftermath of consolidation can help determine success and show the benefits accrued from the project.

Become a transformational leader: Utilize existing authority through enterprise architecture or other means to drive toward greener practices without making major jurisdictional policy changes. In other cases, state CIOs must often work to gain authority to implement these programs for their employees. For instance, despite the significant increases in employer adoption of telework, it still remains a subject of debate, particularly among older workers. In order to incorporate a telework process, state policy issues must first be resolved. By emphasizing these green benefits of telework, state CIOs may be better poised to advocate for the implementation of these initiatives.

Don't go it alone -- enlist partners: Collaborate with other agencies within your state to establish jurisdiction and authority and to gain buy-in for a green IT initiative or agenda. Reach out to other states to gather best practices and lessons learned. Engage staff members -- they also hold a stake in enterprise success and may be eager to help drive these green efforts. Tell vendors green initiatives are important to your state. Many vendors offer green components to their products and services, as well as those dedicated solely to incorporating green practices.

Leverage the circumstances: With rising energy costs -- particularly fuel prices -- on the mind of nearly every citizen and lawmaker, green initiatives will likely be met with unprecedented support. State CIOs are uniquely poised to become leaders in the green IT revolution.

Source: NASCIO

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