Unlocking the potential of Green IT in government

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Initiatives from the new administration indicate that the government recognizes the need to reduce its carbon footprint and mitigate negative environmental impacts. To that end, green information technology (IT) has become an increasingly familiar concept – and movement – on the federal IT landscape.

Industry brings green IT options to government by offering various technology-based solutions for data and applications – the focal point of most, if not all, government services today.

Green IT can reduce exponentially the consumption and costs associated with critical, energy-intensive government IT functions, like the datacenter and the desktop. With datacenters showing no signs of diminishing in importance, their growing energy consumption must be addressed. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the energy consumption of federal servers and datacenters accounts for approximately $450 million taxpayer dollars a year. Green IT, such as virtualization technologies, can bring the datacenter’s skyrocketing energy use – and the related costs – back down to earth.

While government commitment and industry innovation have created a green-aware IT environment, a few more steps must be taken in order to bring green IT to bear on responsible energy consumption. Three keys can help government and industry achieve the maximum public sector benefit from green IT:

1. Government needs to build clear, specific green IT requirements into procurements. Until industry sees green IT contract language, including meaningful metrics for success, industry will not be adequately motivated to bring green IT solutions to important procurements.

2. Industry needs to develop green IT solutions as reliable as previous, less green solutions. Advancements in virtualization and other green technologies enhance performance and meet federal security protocols; industry must demonstrate these advances to government at every opportunity. By providing demonstrations, advice, proof-of-concept and implementation assistance, industry can help government “go green” faster.

3. Individuals must take personal responsibility for energy consumption. Every day, personal decisions have dramatic impact on the state of green government. Actions as simple as powering down desktops, printers and other peripherals significantly impact government’s energy use. If just one percent of government’s 1.8 million civilian employees turned off their computers and peripherals overnight, government would save an average of 234,000 kilowatt-hours – which translates into a cost savings of about $23,400 in a single night. Power IT Down Day, which reminds individuals of the importance of powering down IT equipment at the end of the day, comes on August 27 of this year. Sign up at www.hp.com/go/poweritdown, mark your calendar and make a difference.

Green IT comes down to one essential tenet: we want to leave behind a better environment than we inherited. By working together, government and industry can adopt green IT solutions that are more flexible, more adaptable while addressing a wide range of government initiatives without sacrificing speed or performance. Considering the possibilities of green IT, the benefits are universal, from the agency to the contractor to the taxpayer.

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