10 steps for greening an IT department

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6. Discourage those "document pack rats." Every office has one or more people who feel compelled to keep a paper copy of every memo and e-mail they've sent or received. This fills rows of file cabinets, drawers, suspended files and folders. Make an electronic document management system available and reduce the amount of physical storage available. This reduces paper usage and frees floor space.

7. Link the cost of resource consumption with those who consume it. When IT pays for a pool of material that everyone draws from, no one feels accountable for minimizing its cost. Among other things, green linkages show which departments are consuming laser cartridges and paper, generating equipment for disposal, or consuming the most electricity.

8. Make office recycling convenient. Establish a collection point for batteries, old cell phones, paper and spent laser or ink-jet cartridges. Work out in advance who will pick up the full containers for recycling.

9. Consider "real" needs when upgrading equipment. Not everyone needs the latest and most powerful workstation. Only upgrade systems when justified by the business need or to replace equipment that isn't energy-efficient. Consider using low-cost and energy-efficient thin clients and desktop virtualization instead of full-powered PCs.

10. Encourage others to follow your lead. Peer pressure is powerful. Promote the idea of a greener IT in conversations with co-workers. The best encouragement you can give is to lead by example.

Many consider the data center to be the most obvious place to start a green effort, but the energy and resources consumed by each individual quickly add up. Many small changes repeated by the many users of IT resources can make a huge difference in the organization's overall impact on the environment.

Webber is a senior project manager at Insight Corp. and a senior adjunct faculty member of DeVry University's Keller Graduate School of Management. He can be reached at businesstechbooks@gmail.com.

Wallace is vice president of application engineering at Result Data Consulting Ltd. He can be reached at michael.wallace@resultdata.com.

Webber and Wallace are co-authors of the upcoming Green Tech: How to Plan and Implement Sustainable IT Solutions, as well as Quality Control for Dummies and IT Policies and Procedures: Tools and Techniques That Work.

Next: Editor's Picks: The best of Computerworld's green-IT coverage

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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