Disties should play bigger role in going green

No matter how you feel about Canada’s election results – same, same, but different – there isn’t likely to be much of a focus on the environment under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Don’t expect to see the sweater vest rolling out a carbon tax. And the economic climate has taken precedence over every other topic these days, including the environment.

However, regardless of how corporations choose to run their businesses, the public is increasingly looking for environmentally friendly options – and that includes IT. This will become even more important as Gen Y workers start their own businesses (consider informal student polls during this election where the Green Party raked in votes). Research has also shown that female entrepreneurs place a high level of importance on the environment. So going green, quite frankly, will mean improving your business prospects going forward.

In the past, IT didn’t exactly get passing grades for environmentally friendly practices, as PCs containing lead piled up in landfills over in China. (The attention these days has shifted to dairy products and chocolate, but I digress…) And power is an issue – all of those data centres, all over the world, running 24-by-seven, pumping in cold air. The Environmental Protection Agency says energy use by servers and data centres in the U.S. more than doubled from 2000 to 2006.

As a result, Energy Star certifications have become more important (these are now being developed for servers and data centres). Recycling efforts have been ramped up and vendors are stepping up to the plate with green programs.

HP’s Design for Environment program, for example, is aimed at reducing the energy required to manufacture HP products and designing equipment that is easier to recycle. And IBM’s Project Big Green aims to decrease energy consumption in data centres.

There are a lot of options out there and VARs may not be sure what to recommend to their customers. This is where distributors should step up to the plate to make the process easier.

Ingram Micro, for example, has a number of services for VARs, including an online trade-up program for upgrading outdated equipment with new technology, as well as a refresh service that helps VARs retire old equipment. The distie also provides incentives to VARs who recycle printer cartridges and cell phones. It also recently launched the EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), managed by the Green Electronics Council, to rate the green factor on PCs, notebooks and monitors.

But distributors also create a lot of waste, simply by the nature of their business: packaging and shipping. Synnex Australia, however, has found a creative solution – the distie reuses boxes when shipping products to customers in Sydney and Melbourne. There’s a lot more that disties could be doing – and if they’re already doing it, they could make those initiatives more prominent on their Web sites.

This will become more important as some government organizations make certain certifications (such as Energy Star) a requirement for doing business. It’s already happening, so VARs – and their distribution partners – need to get on board.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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