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Unpublished Paper
Green IT diffusion: An international comparison
Green IT Working Paper Series (2009)
  • Alemayehu Molla, RMIT University
  • Siddhi Pittayachawan, RMIT University
  • Brian Corbitt, RMIT University
This paper provides a preliminary insight on the status of the diffusion and maturity of “Green IT” as well as some of the driving and inhibiting factors that influence it. The report is largely descriptive and is based on a survey of 143 organisations from Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Overall, the findings indicate that organisations are developing the “right mind-set”, taking a number of “softer actions”’; and investing in new technologies to use IT as part of the solution to pursue both eco- efficiency and eco-sustainability objectives. Nevertheless, the state of Green IT among the surveyed organisations can be considered at the early stage of maturity. In particular:
  • The results indicate that disposal of IT in an environmentally friendly manner is the most relevant organisational concern about Green IT. It is therefore not surprising that there is significantly more attention paid to policy and practice in the end-of-IT-life management aspect of Green IT. On the other hand, attention to Green IT sourcing is the least adopted.
  • The need for greater IT efficiency and the pursuit of tangible cost savings from IT operations are the primary drivers for adopting Green IT which has to be articulated in the strategy of an organisation. Likewise, the cost of Greening IT and unclear business values from Greening IT top the list of the factors that inhibit Green IT adoption. This implies that as IT budgets continue to shrink, IT managers may turn to Green IT only if Green solutions are affordable and yield tangible and near term cost savings. Thus, of all the items used to assess Green IT, server virtualisation and consolidation have the widest uptake. Many believe that server virtualisation can produce quick–win cost reduction.
  • In less than half of the cases reported, the role for coordinating Green initiatives is defined and CIOs are taking a leading role in all Green (IT and non IT) initiatives. However, in the majority of organisations, IT is not yet responsible for its own electricity costs and there are no well developed metrics for assessing the impact of Green IT initiatives. Hence, executives might not know the tangible returns from implementing Green IT.
  • Limitation of the small sample size withstanding, the findings of this study hint at differences in Green IT initiatives among US, New Zealand and Australian organisations. In Australia and New Zealand, environmental consideration is the primary concern. In US the primary concern appears to be energy efficiency and cost reduction. Thus, while Australian and New Zealand organisations are leading the ‘softer” side of Green IT policies and practices to reduce the environmental impact of IT, US organisations are far more advanced in the adoption of technologies and practices that reduce energy consumption and improve efficiency. This might be because of differences in the scale of IT operations. Generally US organisations have larger IT shops.
  • Despite the initial steps, most CIOs believe that their organisations lack an adequate level of readiness for Green IT.
Publication Date
May 13, 2009
Citation Information
Alemayehu Molla, Siddhi Pittayachawan and Brian Corbitt. "Green IT diffusion: An international comparison" Green IT Working Paper Series (2009)
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