February 17, 2009, 12:00 AM

Internet and e-retail execs give their companies poor marks for going green

70% of executives think it’s very important to reduce carbon footprint, but only 2% give their companies an A for ecologically friendly policies, according to a survey by the Business Performance Management Forum.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Think Eco-Logical, the Business Performance Management Forum advises companies, with the “Eco” standing for ecologically friendly and the “Logical” representing the business benefits that can be derived from policies that preserve the environment. There’s still work to be done to convey those benefits to Internet and e-commerce companies, according to a survey by the management group and its Global Renewable Energy and Environmental Network, or GREEN, affinity group.

While 70% of executives surveyed say it’s very or extremely important for their companies to reduce their carbon footprint, 81% gave their own companies poor grades-a C, D or F-on that score, and only 2% handed out A’s. The survey of 275 executives from Internet and e-commerce companies was conducted in December and January.

The main obstacles to pursuing more environmentally friendly policies were identified as lack of organizational awareness of potential business benefits (53%), unwillingness to compromise technology productivity or output (52%) and too costly to build in the necessary technology efficiencies (49%).

But the executives feel pressure to address environmental concerns and believe their companies would reap some benefits. Asked what forces are driving their companies to embrace a Think Eco-Logical approach, 65% cited pressure to cut costs, 62% the company’s corporate social responsibility policies and 61% rising costs for lighting, power and cooling. With Internet companies relying heavily on computers that soak up electrical power and require constant cooling, 79% cited reduced power and cooling costs as the biggest potential benefit of eco-friendly policies, while 78% pointed to satisfying a social responsibility commitment.

Asked what their information technology departments are planning to do in the next year to further ecologically friendly policies, 64% said reducing printing of documents, 47% using computer virtualization technologies to maximize output and facility space, and 45% consolidate to increase utilization, save space and reduce power consumption.

The survey was sponsored by Rackable Systems Inc., which hosts data centers and web sites, and chipmaker Intel.

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