The Triple Bottom Line

I attended the Samsung CIO Forum and found the event highly informative, stimulating, and valuable from a personal networking perspective. Samsung and most of the other presenters talked about power efficiency or energy conservation in some form, and that’s completely understandable. Energy savings translate directly into money, and the reduction in cost transfers right to a company’s bottom line.

But since the beginning of the current green business wave, there has been a lot of talk about other aspects of sustainability, aspects beyond energy. Carbon emissions are front and center in discussions about efficiency in Europe and Australia, where policy makers have taken the leap to transform environmental issues into economic ones through trading markets or taxes. Water issues tend to be local in nature, but can have widespread implications, as demonstrated this year with 97 percent of Texas in exceptional or extreme drought. Hazardous materials, conflict materials, electronic waste, recycling – all these issue can play into a total resource efficiency strategy for an Information Technology executive. The Green Grid offers metrics and information on how to measure these sustainability dimensions and begin to improve the efficiency of their use in business computing environments.

The broader resource efficiency issues become more important as organizations work their way through the low-hanging fruit of energy and carbon. I advocate for executives to focus on ecological areas that have immediate economic benefit, since those are the projects that will be approved, funded, and will pay back the company in the shortest amount of time. In the IT arena, data center efficiency, and efficiency of the IT equipment inside the building, are frequently the focus of corporate cost-cutters, but don’t overlook the productivity, cost and sustainability benefits of business-oriented green projects. Think in multiple dimensions: an energy reduction in the computing infrastructure means less energy used in the building, and less carbon produced by the electric utility. Be sure to get credit for all the areas where your company makes contributions to the triple bottom line.