Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Verismic survey suggests more company energy-saving policies are needed

image PC power management software company Verismic has released the findings from a recent user survey that suggest that UK businesses are not taking advantage of staff attitudes to power consumption at work. Almost half of respondents shut down their PC at the end of the day because they want to conserve power, rather than because of any corporate policy.

The survey, which was conducted in June, received responses from 122 organisations across all sectors of UK business. Jean Richie, former services director at the University of Edinburgh Data Compute Facility, analysed the data. Findings included:

  • Overall, 44% of respondents didn’t take steps to save power at work, although 49% worried about energy use at work and 91% cared about how much their employer spent on energy.

  • When it comes to their PCs, 48% switched them off at the end of the working day, leaving 52% powered on.

  • The survey found that 24% of employees took no measures to reduce energy use. Of those, 44% cited inconvenience – too long to start their computer in the morning – as the reason.

  • The majority of UK employers were regarded by their staff as being aware of energy matters. In total, 74% were said by their employees to care about energy usage while 23% were seen as needing to care more.

Among the conclusions drawn from the responses were that the employee enthusiasm for power savings combined with limited action suggests that stricter corporate energy savings policies would be welcomed by staff, to reflect their belief in their employers’ values and to prove their commitments to Green IT.

Jean Ritchie commented, “While 91% of respondents ‘cared’ how much their employer spent on energy, 49% ‘worried’ about energy usage at work. Possibly the remainder thought that employers were taking appropriate steps to limit energy usage, or perhaps they felt there was nothing they could do to change the situation.”


There seem to be mixed messages here and I haven’t seen the original questions and responses to judge (and was it 44% of respondents who didn’t take steps to save power at work or was the figure 24%?). Nonetheless, the issue of whether companies are missing a trick by not instigating energy savings policies did generate discussion this morning at a round table debate I attended (hosted by Verismic) to discuss the research findings.

It was quite a wide-ranging discussion – there are lots of issues in reducing energy used and emissions generated by PCs, ranging from processor technology and thin-client computing to the use of carbon offsets.

In terms of corporate energy-saving policies, my own view is that while more companies need to have a policy in place, it’s not sufficient on its own. A green policy needs active management to drive it throughout the company – things like assigning all energy costs to the responsible departments. It also needs the support of employees. In the case of PC power management, not just in providing individual feedback but also in company comparisons with other employees or between departments. Competition is a great incentive.

PC power management certainly should be more widely used. Last year the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was working on the assumption that in a commercial environment only 36% of PCs are turned off at night and weekends. Given the financial and sustainability benefits there’s really no excuse for any commercial organisation not to have effective PC power management policies/practices/software in place.

© The Green IT Review

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