How to use green IT without breaking the bank

The good and the bad behind going green

In a recent survey by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and HP Canada, 83 per cent of small business owners said that green factors play a role when they purchase technology for their business -- and 43 percent said it plays a significant role.

"It's noteworthy in terms of how that's really come up the priority list of small business owners in Canada," said Michael McAvoy, director of SMB and commercial marketing with HP Canada.

HP has rolled out an initiative called Design for Environment, which looks at how the company goes to market with its products and strategy, whether it's packaging, product recycling or research and development. By 2010, it plans to reduce the combined energy consumption of its operations and products by 20 per cent, compared to its 2005 level. It also has a goal of recycling a billion pounds of e-waste by the end of this calendar year

"A small business has a lot more recycling options for their old technology," said McAvoy. HP uses a partner called SIMS, based in Brampton, Ont., for the vast majority of its hardware recycling -- its facility can recycle around 10,000 pounds of e-waste per hour.

For a small business owner, it's a way to feel better about how old computer equipment is recycled -- rather than leaving it on the curb to end up in a landfill. (There are chemicals in electronic waste that are harmful to the environment and eventually to your health.)

Newer technologies are much more energy-efficient, such as smart AC adapters that monitor notebook power requirements -- this contributes to power adjustments that add efficiencies and potentially allow for longer use. A number of the new processors from AMD and Intel also feature lower power consumption.

One key thing small businesses can do is purchase green energy from companies such as Bullfrog Power, said Jennifer Foulds, communications director with Environmental Defense. It may cost a bit more per kilowatt hour, but in the long run it helps add more green energy to the energy mix.

The next time you need to buy electronic equipment, make sure it's Energy Star rated because that means you're using less power, and see if the equipment has energy-saving settings (most laptops, for example, have sleep modes). And make sure you're shutting off all equipment -- have everything on a power bar and just flick it off at the end of the day.

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Vawn Himmelsbach

ITBusiness.ca
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