Some of the most cost-effective sustainable IT initiatives currently have a lower than 30% adoption rate by organisations, according to a new survey by Gartner.

“Sustainable IT progress is underway at a solid pace,” says Kristin Moyer, distinguished vice-president analyst at Gartner. “The survey found that executive leaders have completed an average of nine sustainable IT initiatives in the categories of data centers and cloud, digital workplace, data and software.

“However, sustainable IT adoption patterns show that executives may not always be implementing the most cost-effective initiatives.”

The survey was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2023 to assess the actions and impact of IT to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within IT and the enterprise. In total, 200 executive leaders across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific participated in the survey.

The survey found 64% of executive leaders believe they do not receive the emissions performance data they need from vendors.

“Because of these limitations, some executive leaders struggle to prioritise sustainable IT initiatives or know where to start,” says Moyer. “They also neglect to consider sustainable IT initiatives that are low cost and achieve moderate GHG reduction.”

While the top two areas where executive leaders have accomplished the most sustainable IT initiatives are in data centre (86% of respondents) and the digital workplace (79% of respondents), there are initiatives that are more cost effective and have low adoption in both categories.

In data centre, they include uninterruptible power supply (UPS) rightsizing and enhancing cooling.

“Executive leaders should right-size their UPS(s) based on current and future capacity requirements, which helps increase efficiency and cost savings,” says Moyer. “Enhanced cooling systems like immersion cooling, passive cooling and direct-to-chip cooling are also underutilized and can drive significant water reduction and mitigate GHG emissions.”

In the workplace, executive leaders are underutilising circularity into IT. Only 22% of surveyed executive leaders are choosing to purchase refurbished assets to improve circularity, reduce waste and GHG emissions.

In addition, many organizations are still refreshing devices based on a fixed (three- to five-year) expected life span, instead of using analytics to determine the optimal time to replace laptops, PCs and servers.

Executive leaders should use device performance analytics and telemetry insights to replace devices on an as-needed basis. Gartner estimates that by 2027, PC as a service will grow to 50% of PC procurement, an increase from 20% in 2023.