At the BusinessGreen Leaders Forum in association with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, recently, panelists discussed the importance of sustainability in an organisation and how IT can be a significant part of the solution. The event highlighted the benefits of sustainability planning for an organisation and how, even in times of austerity, the green agenda is even more important.

Whilst legislation in the area of managing an organisations carbon footprint increases, the need to be able to understand and apply the correct metrics becomes vital. The role of IT, however, goes much further than managing the footprint of its own activity. Businesses are starting to focus on how they can use IT more effectively in minimising the footprint of other less direct activity, such as travel, or more direct activity, such as how you deal with your customer, online versus an actual store / building for example. The requirement for more efficient IT in business becomes a huge opportunity for those professionals who have the correct green skill sets to aid in adding financial, reputational and environmental value.

The first speaker of the event, Tom Delay, CEO of The Carbon Trust, discussed the main benefits of businesses having a sustainability plan are cost savings and reputation. In 2011, the priorities for businesses are short term benefits and it is here that cost savings from sustainability are so beneficial and can give an organisation a competitive edge. BCS believes that a green IT agenda goes some way towards achieving this. During this tough economic climate, business must find a way to differentiate without compromising their bottom line. More efficient IT will continue to allow business to communicate and deliver to their customer in a way that is more convenient to the customer, whilst increasing margin and displaying green credentials that will differentiate them from their competition.

'Green IT is paramount to achieving an organisations green agenda,' says Rubi Kaur, Senior Technology Architect - Green IT Lead, HM Revenue & Customs. 'Without considering the impact of the IT infrastructure on the environment or realising how much energy cost can be saved by improving, optimising and exploiting your IT solutions and products; sustainability in an organisation is an extremely difficult task. New green IT skills are an essential requirement now and in the future for any IT organisation.'

BCS is widely involved with various green initiatives, including extensive work through various BCS specialist groups. The Institute also provides certifications in green IT and data centre management as well as an award programme to recognise efficiency and best practice in the data centre.

'As the Chartered Institute for IT, BCS is committed to helping organisations and individuals improve their carbon footprint through green IT,' says Michiel van der Voort, Director of Professional Development Services, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. 'Having the right people to drive that green IT initiative within an organisation is very important and with the right credentials and certifications, it is easier to identify these individuals.'