Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Time to Vacuum Up the Nickels

I was reading about prioritizing green projects today, and was struck by how many of them don't get off the ground because "they save no money". For example, a bank might save millions implementing a energy efficiency program but, compared to the billions they make, it's loose change. Or the fact that, say, Americans only spend 1.2 percent of the nation's energy on data centers. Seems like a great deal! And the sense is that there's no point in looking at it, because hey, it's only 1 percent. See, I rounded it down already.

No, no, no. These projects need to be evaluated on a cost-benefit basis, not on guts. This is in itself an issue, as return on investment for IT projects is almost never done. And gut-based decision making is very popular, particularly when snap decisions are often seen as a sign of competence. But this is unlikely to yield green benefits. The right stance is the one where every sucked up nickel is appreciated, like the Windsor School District that is thrilled they are saving $300 a month in electricity after switching to Linux thin clients. Pint's a pound the whole world round (except in the UK, home of the 20 oz. pint where "a pint of water is a pound and a quarter"), and so is a few million dollars in loose change. Or a few thousand. Or a few hundred.

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