What should a Green IT Maturity Model look like ?

Situation: Information and communications technology (ICT) accounts for approximately 2% of global CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to Aviation……Gartner

Complication: Social, political and economic forces are going to be putting increasing amounts of pressure on Information Technology organizations to play an active part in ‘Green’ initiatives and also to become more ‘Green’.

Question: What should be the key dimension and phases of a ‘Green IT Maturity Model’ that could be used by information technology organizations to understand their current and future ‘Green’ states?

Green IT Community of Practice

Farhan Malik

Enterprise Architect and Business Technology Strategist

That’s a fantastic question. I’d love to see an organized effort to actually define “green” through some sort of model like this.

It’s a massively complex issue and one that really deserves a systematic approach.

Another possible approach would be along the lines of what companies seem to evolve through today:

1) How much power is the infrastructure is using? (this is where most companies seem to be, today with Green initiatives)

2) What’s the cost and impact of decommissioning? (Recycling/disposal)

3) What’s the cost and impact of acquisition? (Manufacturing, components, transportation, etc.)

4) What’s the total lifecycle impact (Manufacturing-recycling+transport/packaging/distribution+operation+disposal)

5) What’s the total impact/cost of business and technical decisions
(If we upgrade to Vista, how many machines go to landfills, what’s the footprint of the new memory and drives, etc. – power savings. If we allow people to telecommute, what’s the total environmental impact (both to the company’s total and to each telecommuter’s home?) If we go paperless, does it offset the environmental impact of the servers, software, client PCs, etc.If we execute this marketing strategy, what’s the delta in our footprint).

I don’t think that there’s enough transparency in most vendors and products to really reach “5” at this point. But I can easily see the day coming.

The next step would be expanding beyond a simple carbon and toxic materials equation and looking at impact more holistically. If a product is manufactured in a developing nation, does that economic impact translate into an environmental impact? Do identical facilities and processes physically located in different biomes have the same net impact? If a facility pushes out farmland, should the output product be be judged differently than one that was built in a facility located on top of a landfill?

It’s a fascinating topic and I hope to see more discussion around it.