IT paying ‘lip service’ to sustainability

An article on Computer Business Review says UK companies are failing to use IT to reduce or improve their environmental sustainability, even though they believe that technology is key to tackling the problem.

The article, UK companies paying lip service to green issues, is based on a Datamonitor survey, commissioned by BT Global Services UK, in which nine out ten firms said technology had a role to play in cutting environmental damage, yet almost half had no plans or targets for using IT to make improvements.

Datamonitor’s Neil Hendry says the research highlighted a “positive awareness” of areas such as flexible working, supply chain process improvements, and building services automation for reducing and monitoring energy use can have on sustainability (all issues I mentioned in my IT-focussed submission to the BERR consultation document on sustainable construction – see posts here and here).

Companies in the utilities sector proved the most active on green issues. Two-thirds of utilities organizations said they had a plan for exploiting IT and communications to improve sustainability, followed by transport (58%), retail and media and leisure (52%), finance and public sector (51%), and construction (44%). Sadly, 35% regarded it as a tick-in-the-box compliance exercise.

In Are utilities firms really more sustainable than builders?, Building magazine’s sustainability blog discusses the same research from a  construction industry perspective (see also Building Sustainability article) and quotes Greenpeace Research Labs David Santillo at length. Santillo’s last point – about government taking “a far more visible initiative in sustainable procurement of construction materials, sustainable design, etc” – may be addressed once BERR has absorbed all the feedback it had to its consultation document. Whether its response will include the IT dimension, hardly mentioned at all in the consultation document itself, remains to be seen.

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