Green IT and Green IS sound a lot alike. Information Technology? Information Systems? When it comes right down to Green IT vs Green IS, what is the difference really?
Perhaps more importantly, why should business leaders care?
The headline here is financial. Reducing the cost of IT is almost always a business outcome of smart Green IT and Green IS strategies.
But it’s reputational and sustainable too. Adopting these policies lets a company have a beneficial effect on the environment and become more efficient too.
This is good for your customers. It’s good for your shareholders. It’s good for your team. More than that, it’s the right thing to do. So let’s take a look:
What is Green IT?
Information Technology (IT) is the use of computers (and other devices) to create, store, and process data. Green IT is designed to minimise the carbon footprint of a company’s IT processes.
Reducing IT carbon footprint is a major goal for many organisations at the moment. This is, first and foremost for many, because of the climate emergency.
But it has not escaped the notice of many leaders that businesses that make their technology use more efficient also end up saving money (as well as, hopefully, the planet).
What is Green IS?
Information Systems are the hardware and software an organisation uses to collect data about itself. Green IS is designed to minimise the environmental impact of those processes.
This is important. Because many organisations use their IS processes to become more efficient and stay ahead of their competition.
Yet IS can get very material and energy-intensive. Of course, computers can in general. Not least, in all of the materials required to build them and what to do with them when they get outmoded.
Green Information Systems take advantage of new technology to try and address this. These are developments such as:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) – embedding sensors in machinery to enable data collection and even management of systems at range.
- Smart buildings – with built-in sensors that allow the internal environment to be adjusted and energy and water saved.
- Smart grids and smart meters – grids enable energy to get to where it needs to go more efficiently. Meters to track energy use.
What is the difference between Green IT and Green IS?
Green Information Technology is all about working out how to use your IT and computer equipment more sustainably and responsibly.
Green Information Systems are all about using IT to help your business meet environmental and sustainability goals via data collection and measurement.
What are the goals of Green IT and Green IS?
The need to de-carbonise and work towards a Net Zero world has changed the way many businesses think about IT and IS in recent years.
Reducing the environmental impact of IT is an issue both for individual businesses and the IT sector as a whole. Issues like the energy and water usage of data centres need to be addressed.
A simple win for most companies is to continue with a sensibly planned digital transformation. There are also easy wins regarding things like extending replacement cycles for office computers.
Many organisations are transitioning to Green IT and Green IS practices because they recognise it’s something we all need to do if the planet we all need to survive isn’t to be destroyed.
For most of us though, the added advantage of reduced IT costs isn’t exactly a disincentive.
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