62% of UK Businesses Blame Consumers for Green IT Ignorance, When More Than Half Don’t Know The Environmental Impact of Their Own Data Centre

Nlyte Software research shows businesses still ill-equipped to deal with increasing green Government legislation & are expected to foot the bill for consumers’ carbon footprint

London, UK – November 24, 2010 – nlyte Software, a leading provider of data centre infrastructure management solutions, today released the results of its research that surveyed 100 UK CIOs and data centre managers on the awareness of their data centres’ carbon footprint and consumer perception around the use of online services, such as free email, social networking and online shopping. The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne1, shows a worrying lack of knowledge for Green IT amongst organisations that could seriously hinder economic recovery if not addressed immediately.

As more and more consumers turn to the online services industry for their social needs, nlyte’s research indicates that while 63 percent of businesses accuse consumers of being unaware of the hefty carbon footprint associated with the use of internet services – from Hotmail to Amazon and Facebook – more than half (53 percent) still don’t know the environmental impact of their own data centres.  Such an inexcusable lack of knowledge leaves businesses completely unprepared to implement any effective targeted environmental initiatives in their data centres.  This is particularly significant given the new green levies and league tables within recently amended government legislation, such as in the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme2.

“Most data centre managers claim to measure their data centre’s carbon footprint with regular energy bills, but this is a completely inadequate method of measurement,” commented Rob Neave, co-founder and VP of IT and sustainability at nlyte Software.  “The notion that businesses consider this to be a sufficient metric demonstrates a Government failing to produce an industry standard energy efficiency measurement tool that enables both comparison and improvement assessments between different data centres.  Right now, we are simply comparing apples with oranges.

“Looking ahead, if there is nothing in place to measure the carbon footprint of data and energy usage or targets to help forecast future demand, businesses won’t even be in a position to be able to charge these types of services on to consumers,” continued Neave.

Furthermore, nlyte also surveyed 1,000 GB consumers aged 16 to 64, in conjunction with TNS3, to gain additional insight into their awareness of their carbon footprint when it comes to using online services such as Twitter, Hotmail, Facebook, Amazon and eBay.  Although one quarter (25 percent) of those surveyed claimed to understand the vast environmental impact of their actions, 76 percent believe that the businesses that provide these services should be responsible for paying for the carbon emissions associated with their use.

Of notable concern is the younger generation who represent the future of environmental change – just a fraction (2 percent) of 16-24 year olds would consider paying for online services to offset their carbon emissions, despite being the heaviest users.  Add this sentiment to the business world’s evident  lack of unpreparedness where green IT is concerned in the data centre and organisations could not only find their finances crippled by rising energy costs and green legislation in years to come, but also consumers’ unwillingness to contribute, placing additional financial burden on businesses’ data centre operations.

“With research indicating that the most tech savvy generation – the biggest users of these energy intensive online services – have little concern for the cost of their carbon footprint, UK businesses could find themselves in real trouble,” added Neave.  “Consumers have undoubtedly become accustomed to free internet services.  Our research further shows they have no intention of paying – even if it means being green – despite the growing cost of the carbon footprint of these services.  This is a red flag for businesses – particularly as they continue to be plagued by more green levies and rising energy costs.  If businesses are to get any understanding from consumers, let alone contribution towards the cost of running these services, future generations need to know what their carbon footprint looks like, as well as its impact.”

What is evident from nlyte’s findings is that, as the online services industry inevitably continues to grow, the channels of communication between consumers and businesses need to be fully opened in order to mitigate further environmental damage.  At present, an unsure 59 percent of organisations either don’t know or aren’t planning on advising their customers on the environmental impact of the data centre in relation to the online services they use, so it is therefore no wonder that a staggering 83 percent of consumers don’t know where their thousands of Facebook photos and multiple email accounts are stored.

“If businesses are to prevent potential damaging fines, hefty costs and reputational damage from strict environmental legislation, organisations must step up and take the lead on this issue by educating consumers as to the true cost of their online habits – before the damage to both the environment and the business is beyond repair,” said Simon Webster, Vice President and General Manager of EMEA Operations at nlyte Software.  “While it comes as no great surprise to see how little social responsibility consumers feel towards their actions, nonetheless their sheer lack of accountability for the UK’s carbon footprint is astonishing.  What neither consumers nor businesses seem to realise is that this may directly impact their access to these services in the future.  If it is not addressed now, online data’s hidden carbon footprint may just hinder the UK’s much needed economic growth.”

[1] nlyte survey of 100 CIOs and data centre managers at UK enterprises conducted by Vanson Bourne, October 2010

[2] The CRC (Carbon Reduction Committee) Energy Efficiency Scheme, introduced in April 2010, is a mandatory climate change and energy saving scheme in the UK set out in the Government’s Climate Change Act 2008, which aims to encourage organisations to improve energy efficiency by driving changes in behaviour and infrastructure, including IT.  Recent updates include adding levies and fines to further push efficiency.

[3] nlyte survey of 1,000 consumers in GB conducted by TNS, November 2010


About nlyte Software
nlyte Software is a leading provider of data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) solutions for intelligent capacity planning.  Its performance-based solution enables the world’s largest companies to optimally place data centre assets to make the most efficient use of power, cooling and space, enabling a reduction in operating expenses by as much as 20 percent annually.  Founded by data centre professionals in 2003, nlyte Software is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with its European headquarters and R&D in London, England.  It also has a local presence in France.  The company can be found online at http://www.nlyte.com.

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Marina Stedman
nlyte Software
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