Australia leads the world in use of environmental policies

But 33 per cent do not know their energy costs

Australian business leads the rest of the world when it comes to green issues and having an environmental policy in place, according to a global survey covering eight countries.

The IBM survey interviewed nearly 1,400 small and midsized businesses (between 50 and 500 employees) in eight countries including Australia, India, France, USA, Brazil, Germany, Benelux, and China, about energy efficiency and environmental concerns.

Out of this total, 120 Australian small and medium businesses were surveyed.

It found 55 per cent of Australian SMBs surveyed have an environmental policy in place, leading the international average of 44 per cent.

However, 57 per cent of Australian SMBs surveyed have not made any changes in their business operations over the past year to reduce energy costs or have plans to make any changes in 2008.

In effect, only 33 per cent of Australian SMBs interviewed have made changes to reduce energy costs during the past year or plan to during 2008 compared to 47 per cent internationally.

The top three changes to be made by Australian SMBs in 2008 include turning off all non-essential equipment during business hours, using more energy efficient IT equipment and purchasing energy efficient lighting.

More than half (58 per cent) of Australian SMB respondents stated they are concerned about the environment, yet only 38 per cent indicated it affects decisions on reducing energy usage compared to 47 per cent internationally.

In fact, 47 per cent of Australian businesses surveyed don't know the percentage of their total energy costs associated with running their IT equipment compared with 33 per cent internationally.

Earlier this year, IBM Australia commissioned a survey examining the practices and attitudes of large Australian enterprises towards Green IT. Interestingly, the survey found strong similarities between the two markets.

For example, when it comes to energy consumption, 43 per cent (compared with 47 per cent of SMBs) said their organisation's IT department was not aware of its energy usage.

Also, 61 per cent of enterprises (compared with 55 per cent of SMBs) stated that their organisation has an environmental strategy and/or policy that covers IT infrastructure, already in place.

Although nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of businesses have an environmental policy or strategy in place, little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) believe that the reduction of carbon emissions is a high priority for their business (compared with 38 per cent of SMBs).

The survey was undertaken during the month of October, 2007.

According to Gartner, the global ICT industry accounts for more than two per cent of global carbon emissions.

Australia's carbon emissions total 522.2 million tonnes per year. Of that, 7.94 million tonnes comes from ICT use by Australian businesses, according to a study released recently by the ACS. Those emissions come from technology such as PCs, servers, air-conditioning, mobile phones and printers.

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