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Improving Sustainability: Hardware Asset Management Strategies

Simplify Hardware Asset Management with 1E

What is sustainable IT?

Sustainable IT, also known as green IT, refers to environmentally responsible IT practices and technologies. The aim is to minimize the environmental impact of IT operations and infrastructure while maximizing efficiency and reducing resource consumption.

Sustainable IT encompasses various strategies, policies, and technologies designed to promote sustainability throughout the lifecycle of IT assets, from procurement and deployment to operation and disposal.

Examples of green IT practices include:

  • Energy efficiency: implementing energy-efficient hardware components, such as servers, computers, and networking equipment, and optimizing power management settings to minimize energy consumption.
  • Consolidation by virtualization: Utilizing virtualization technology to consolidate multiple physical servers or workstations onto fewer hardware devices, reducing energy usage, space requirements, and cooling needs. 
  • Cloud computing: leveraging cloud-based services and infrastructure to reduce the need for on-premises hardware and data centers, leading to energy and resource savings.
  • Lifecycle management: implementing comprehensive lifecycle management practices for IT assets, including sustainable procurement, maintenance, reuse, refurbishment, and responsible disposal or recycling.
  • Paperless initiatives: adopting digital document management systems, electronic communication tools, and online collaboration platforms to minimize paper usage and waste.
  • Green data centers: designing and operating data centers with energy-efficient cooling systems, advanced airflow management, and renewable energy integration to reduce environmental impact.
  • Eco-friendly procurement: Prioritizing IT vendors and suppliers that demonstrate commitment to sustainability, such as those with eco-friendly manufacturing processes, product recycling programs, or environmental certifications.

The importance of sustainable IT

But why do sustainable IT practices matter? In the modern workplace, IT operations contribute to significant environmental impacts, including energy consumption, electronic waste generation, and carbon emissions. According to “The IT Asset Manager’s Guide to Sustainable IT”, IT is a key driver of business and economic growth—as such, IT must run ethically and sustainably. Adopting sustainable IT practices helps reduce these environmental footprints and mitigate climate change.

Furthermore, many organizations prioritize CSR initiatives to demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Sustainable IT practices contribute to CSR goals by reducing environmental impact and fostering a positive reputation among stakeholders.

Let’s dive into how IT asset management, specifically hardware, can help organizations improve green IT practices.

Prioritizing hardware asset management (HAM) to meet sustainability goals

While the modern workplace is becoming increasingly digital-first, with many organizations turning to the cloud and embracing hybrid work over 100% office-based models, the need for IT hardware still exists. Even if employees are working remotely, they still rely on devices like laptops. This means enterprises need to factor in hardware when developing sustainability strategies.  

So, how can effective HAM contribute to an organization’s sustainability goals?

  1. Extended lifespan: Proper management ensures that hardware assets are maintained, repaired, and upgraded as necessary, extending their useful life. This reduces the frequency of disposal and the need for new purchases, ultimately decreasing the environmental impact associated with manufacturing and disposing of hardware.
  2. Resource optimization: Effective asset management enables organizations to optimize resource usage by reallocating underutilized assets or consolidating hardware resources. This reduces the overall number of devices needed, minimizing energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.
  3. Energy efficiency: Managing hardware assets includes monitoring energy usage and implementing energy-saving measures such as power management settings, efficient cooling systems, and using energy-efficient hardware components. This reduces the organization’s carbon footprint by lowering energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Waste reduction: By implementing strategies like refurbishment, recycling, or responsible disposal of hardware assets, organizations can minimize electronic waste generation. Reusing or recycling components also conserves valuable resources and reduces the environmental impact of raw material extraction and manufacturing processes.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of incorporating HAM into your sustainability practices are numerous and extend to broader business ROI. Some examples include:

  • Cost saving: Green IT practices often lead to cost savings through reduced energy bills, lower maintenance costs, and longer asset lifecycles. By optimizing resource usage and minimizing waste, organizations can achieve financial benefits while promoting sustainability.
  • Regulatory compliance: Governments and regulatory bodies are increasingly imposing environmental regulations and standards related to IT operations, such as energy efficiency requirements and e-waste management regulations. Compliance with these regulations is essential for avoiding fines and penalties.
  • Employee engagement: Sustainable IT initiatives can enhance employee satisfaction and engagement by promoting a culture of environmental responsibility and offering opportunities for staff to participate in green initiatives.
  • Environmental impact: By considering sustainability factors while planning for the lifecycle of hardware assets—such as energy efficiency ratings, recyclability, and environmental certifications—organizations can make more sustainable purchasing decisions.

Managing hardware lifecycles to improve sustainability practices

According to data from a report by ITU and UNITAR, electronic waste is rising five times faster than documented e-waste recycling. A record 62 million tons (Mt) of e-waste was produced in 2022. This is up 82% from 2010, and on track to rise by another 32% in 2030. Furthermore, only 17% of electronic equipment is disposed of in an “environmentally sound manner.” This leaves the other 83% (44.3 metric tons) of devices and assets unaccounted for and likely dumped, traded, or not recycled to compliance standards.

With IT hardware, such as laptops and other devices, still required in many organizations, what’s the solution? Better managing the lifecycle of these hardware assets is a great place to start directly combating key environmental challenges in a meaningful way.

IT teams can better manage hardware asset lifecycles to improve sustainability practices by implementing the following strategies:

  • Inventory and assessment: Conduct regular audits to inventory all hardware assets within the organization. Assess the condition, usage, and energy efficiency of each asset to identify opportunities for optimization and improvement.
  • Lifecycle planning: Develop a comprehensive lifecycle management plan for hardware assets, including procurement, deployment, maintenance, and disposal phases. Move away from age-based device refresh cycles and make data-driven decisions instead.
  • Regular maintenance and upgrades: Schedule regular maintenance to ensure hardware assets are operating efficiently and effectively. Upgrade hardware components or systems when necessary to improve performance, reliability, and energy efficiency, extending the lifespan of assets. This can help improve user experiences with hardware and avoid premature requests to upgrade to new devices.
  • Reuse and refurbishment: explore opportunities to reuse or refurbish hardware assets instead of disposing of them prematurely. Consider reallocating assets within the organization or donating them to charitable organizations or educational institutions to extend utility.
  • Responsible disposal and recycling: Develop procedures for responsible disposal and recycling of hardware assets at the end of their lifecycle. Ensure compliance with environmental regulations and industry standards for e-waste management, and work with certified recycling vendors to minimize environmental impact.
  • Monitoring and reporting: implement systems for monitoring and reporting on sustainability metrics related to hardware asset management, such as energy usage, carbon emissions, and waste reduction. Utilize technology to provide insight into financial and carbon savings. Use this data to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and communicate achievements to stakeholders.
  • Training and awareness: provide training and awareness programs for IT staff and end-users on sustainable hardware practices, including energy conservation, proper maintenance, and disposal procedures. Encourage participation and engagement to foster a culture of sustainability throughout the organization.

By adopting these strategies, IT teams can play a vital role in improving sustainability practices within an organization, reducing environmental impact, and contributing to long-term business success.

Overall, sustainable IT is essential for promoting environmental sustainability, reducing costs, ensuring regulatory compliance, enhancing corporate reputation, and fostering employee engagement in the modern workplace. By adopting green IT practices, organizations can achieve both environmental and economic benefits while contributing to a more sustainable future.


The FORRESTER WAVE™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022

The FORRESTER WAVE™: End-User Experience Management, Q3 2022