Practicing What They Teach


By Eileen Feretic

Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business (www.msb.georgetown.edu) doesn't just talk about the importance of green initiatives--it follows through with decisive actions. In fact, the Aspen Institute recently ranked MSB the 35th most socially responsible business school for "integrating social and environmental issues into their curriculum."

MSB's actions include the construction of an environmentally friendly building that uses "an efficient lighting system expected to provide 15 percent in energy savings, water-efficient plumbing and landscaping, and recycled materials from local companies." In addition, John Carpenter, the school's CIO, says his organization is consolidating servers and installing sleep features on all the school's computers.

And the business school is not alone. The appetite for green projects is growing everywhere. A big part of the reason, according to Betsy Sigman, professor of the practice at Georgetown's MSB, is that corporations and IT vendors realize they can "be green and save green."

However, though green initiatives are partly motivated by money issues, there are other drivers. "Customers care about the environment, so going green is good for a company's image," Sigman said during a recent interview. Finally, she pointed out that many organizations genuinely care about saving the planet.

A major concern of Sigman is that many businesses don't implement green metrics. "Companies and government agencies need to measure the progress of these initiatives," she advised. "They should be able to present a case showing their reductions in energy consumption, their dollar savings and the impact their efforts have had on the environment.

"Organizations have to measure green ROI--and not just for the current year, but for several years into the future. Green initiatives should be included in an enterprise's long-range strategies."

That's a great suggestion, but implementing it requires top-down support. Green initiatives can't be just another IT project managed by the CIO. The CEO, CFO, COO and line-of-business managers all need to get on board. After all, the green bottom line may be the most important one of all.

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