What Obama's Win Means for Green IT

What Obama's Win Means for Green IT

Barack Obama's election yesterday may give Green IT one of the biggest boosts it has yet received, not just in visibility, but in green of another kind --- cold, hard cash. Obama has pledged to spend $150 billion over five years in green technology, and you can be sure some of that will make its way towards greener IT.

Obama hasn't specifically targeted Green IT in his energy plan, but if you look at the plan closely, it's clear that Green IT will be part of it. (For details about his energy plan, click here.) One important part is to update the efficiency standards for appliances. Don't be surprised if at least some computing equipment needs to meet those standards.

The plan also calls for making all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030, and improving new building efficiency by 50% and existing building efficiency by 25% over the next decade. Data centers contribute to substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions. A McKinsey report warns, for example, that by the year 2020, IT and related technologies will emit 1.54 metric gigatons, which is 3 percent of all emissions. So expect data centers to get help going green.

Another key goal of the Obama plan: Invest in a smart grid "using smart metering, distributed storage, and other advanced technologies." There's only one way to do that --- by investing in computing technologies. Many of the technologies developed for the Smart Grid will also see a use in Green IT.

earth2tech notes that cleantech investors backed Obama over McCain by a margin of six to one with their campaign donations. That, by itself, is a significant sign that Green IT should receive a boost under the Obama administration. It shows the investors expect that green technologies will be better funded under Obama, which ultimately will mean more startups. Expect there to be significant startups in the Green IT space, particularly around virtualization and greening the data center.

I'm not the only one saying that Green IT will become a priority in the Obama administration, by the way. Consider this excerpt from an article by Craig Zarley on ChannelWeb:

Green IT Will Become A Priority With Obama's Support

Green IT is no longer a political imperative, but an economic one. Consolidation, virtualization and more energy-efficient systems such as blades and thin clients will be the order of the day because those technologies dramatically cut energy costs and yield quick returns on investment. Saving energy consumption with green IT systems and processes will fit nicely into Obama's commitment to tackle global warming.
I think he's absolutely right, and in fact, may be understating the case. Expect new startups and new technologies as well.