Going ‘green’ can help your firm and your country stay out of the red.Green is back. Despite the recession, concern about the environment and rising energy costs are leading many organisations to implement environmental policies. In fact, IT analyst firm Forrester Research expects that the $US500 million spent on green IT services in 2008 will grow to a whopping $US4.8 billion by 2013. From near-term changes like power-down policies to environmental policies for equipment disposal, organisations are taking action today. They are changing everything from their business models to how they enable their employees to collaborate and innovate. In the end, ‘going green’ not only helps the environment, but can also help keep firms operating in the black. The IBM experienceWhen it comes to creating energy savings, Forrester Research recommends that organisations measure the annual costs of their energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and the financial costs of operating ‘green IT’ before making new investments. Using this method, IBM consolidated 3900 of its own servers onto 33 System z mainframes to achieve an 80 per cent annual energy saving. Also, by using instant messaging, web conferencing and other social networking tools, the company estimates it is saving $US113 million per year in employee travel.But green IT is no longer just about CO2 emissions and saving money on power and cooling costs. The reduced budgets of the current economic climate challenge managers to look for solutions that lower the total cost of ownership and improve efficiencies. To paraphrase columnist and author Thomas Friedman, you can’t make a solution greener without making it smarter. And that’s where technology comes in.IBM is developing new ways to help clients address energy, environment and sustainability issues and opportunities. IBM’s products and services are focused not only on improving the direct energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions of information technology itself, but also applying IT to help solve the world’s energy and climate challenges. IBM is working with thousands of clients around the world, applying its industry expertise and experience, to link these increasingly more intelligent things to powerful new back-end systems that can process all that data, and applying advanced analytics capable of turning it into real insight, in real time. The end result offers a smarter, not to mention greener, way of doing business. Smart thinking and smart systems are also transforming energy grids, supply chains and water management, and it’s not just limited to the large countries. IBM is working with the Maltese National Electricity and Water Utilities Enemalta Corporation and Water Services Corporation to design and implement a nationwide smart grid that will enable more efficient consumption of energy and water. Intelligent NetworksCloser to home, IBM is currently working with Australian energy provider, Country Energy, to realise a vision for an Intelligent Network by 2020 in order to improve reliability, support the growth of renewables, like solar and wind, and to simplify energy efficiency for customers. The project has three objectives: greater energy efficiency through ‘smart metering’ and smart in-home networks; a more reliable and efficient power network through remote diagnostics and self-healing, fine tuning capacity in real time; and better network planning to enable a much wider penetration of small renewable generators by allowing renewable energy to be shared and stored locally.Beyond utilities, many organisations and nations are rethinking their systems and applying technologies in new greener ways. There are smart traffic systems in Sweden that help reduce traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, and smart food systems in Nordic countries that use RFID technology to trace meat and poultry from the farm through the supply chain to supermarket shelves.New Zealand organisations should look to these global examples not just as a means of becoming greener, but to transform and prepare our economy for the 21st Century.