How green are you?

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“Green” is a big issue now in business. But it means different things to different people. If you talk to a politician, you will hear their party’s views on how the UK is doing against the Kyoto agreement and what they think of what happened in Copenhagen. If you talk to a manufacturer, then you will hear the words “carbon index” or even “green supply chain”. Then you talk to an IT manager and they will talk about “Green IT” which, when you look behind it, is all about hardware and netware.

But how can you tell where best to invest your green pounds to gain advantage from being “greener” that your competitor? (Because in the end that’s what it is really about—playing the “Green” card to gain competitive advantage). Cynical aren’t I, but realistic too.

From a manufacturing business viewpoint then the measure you need is a carbon index rating. How do you derive this? There are a number of different ways carbon indexes can be derived. For instance Pro Enviro ( have developed a Carbon Index for SMEs, which is calculated by collating information on a range of the resources used by a company and normalising carbon emission against Gross Value Added. In the construction industry, there is the SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) index; this is based on the annual energy costs for space and water heating and on the annual CO2 emissions associated with space and water heating. So, even here, for the manufacturer we don’t have a clear ‘this is what you should do’.

Organisations like the Carbon Trust, which is a not-for-profit company, provide specialist support to help business and the public sector cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies. Companies like Green Oak Solutions ( and PE International ( are starting to provide software to measure carbon emissions/footprints and as well as consultancy checklist to understand where a company is in its carbon management.

There are a number of approaches to Green IT. These include: virtualisation, power management, energy efficient display options, operating systems, data storage and search algorithms. Slightly more obtuse are issues such as telecommuting and materials recycling. So here too, a company needs to produce its “Green IT Strategy” that is right to meet its goals and objectives.

Now the good news, according to the ICT Sustainability Index, launched in December 2009, the UK was placed joint third with Brazil, France and Germany based on those whose economy, infrastructure and laws put them in the best place to realise the biggest cuts. How did we get there you may ask?