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Watch that carbon footprint: Running a sustainable business

Get used to it. Regardless of what you may think about Al Gore or climate change, if you are running a business you are going to have to start paying attention to your carbon footprint.

Governments and businesses around the world already think quite a bit about it. Tough, enforceable regulations are coming to govern greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The challenge for IT is simple, yet daunting: Collect all relevant emissions data and report it to such entities as The Climate Registry. Given the amount of work to be done, John Niemoller, president and COO of Perillon, equates the data collection work to be done as “IT’s next Y2K event,” he said at this week’s MIT Sloan CIO Symposium.

And if you think it’s just governments that will be issuing all of the sustainable business mandates , think again. At the same “Green IT Matters: Green is In” panel, Kevin Coyne, president and CEO of e3 Solutions, relates a story from one of his customers, FedEx, which started monitoring its carbon footprint because its customers were demanding it. Likewise Wal-Mart.

When companies that large and powerful are behind the effort, being green means more than just good public relations: Compliance with greenhouse gas laws really becomes an issue of sustainability. And, as Gartner analyst John Van Decker put it at a recent Gartner conference, sustainability is going to become your “license to operate.”

Don’t get left behind. Watch for continuing coverage of sustainable business issues on SearchCompliance.com and on the IT Compliance Advisor blog. And tell me what you think at spetersen@techtarget.com.

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