Green, green, the grass is green. . .

Has the “sustainability” trend snuck up on you?

I thought I was so aware. I’m from California and I recycle. I sort out the cans and bottles, best-on-the-block. But all of a sudden, the “Green” movement has elevated to a much higher plateau! Every business organization is looking deeply at its processes, products, and funding priorities with an eye toward improving sustainability. Last month they cut off my paper mail statements for corporate expenses! Think of the cumulative oomph when all the big boys start improving core processes! This is Man on the Moon level of mass transformation. It is even hitting home!

As usual, the colleges and universities are out front on this. Why not? The next generation, our current students, have the most to gain by applying the principles of sustainability – everywhere. Guess they want to live here awhile. Perhaps you saw the May 2008 issue of The Greentree Gazette, featuring “Green was then. Sustainable is now.” This series of articles really hit me over the head. Time to wake up. One of the contributing authors, who is right in the middle of this student-led phenomenon is Charles Redman, Director of Social Responsibility at Arizona State University. His students are a cross-section of engineering, business, journalism, physical science, and policy majors. He characterizes the student active mindset:

Is student enthusiasm sufficient to change the world? No question students are way ahead of us in thinking about this. The mission is to take that bottom-up enthusiasm—which frankly is limited in impact—and develop ways to transform it into effective action. Students are kicking hard, but it’s hard to turn a battleship just by kicking your feet. People in the wheelhouse are turning, too. We don’t want one person who is going to write a book about it. We want 10 million people who are going to change the way they do business.

Well. Go Sun Devils, then.

The variety of Sustainability projects underway in Higher Education is astonishing, once you start to look around and take notice. I witnessed an amazing presentation about sustainable agriculture given to the North Dakota State Board of Education, the host school was Minot State University- Bottineau, and their Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture. Their “Eating Local” program places an emphasis on growing a variety of crops with new techniques, all organic, and reducing use of transportation, electrical and other power. They also have shown how to extend the growing season in North Dakota by almost 2 months! I’ll have to talk to the NDUS CIO and figure out how Oracle can take some credit for these horticultutal studies!

Hmmmm. Sounds like even an enterprise software company needs to green it up a bit. I had been guessing that all those digital 1’s and 0’s did not pollute or take up much volume in the landfill. But Oracle is looking at the manner in which our customers are using Oracle software products to control or improve their own overall sustainability profile. Also, part of that is the computing plant – that server farm. Oracle products have the potential to dramatically lighten the physical computing footprint, saving in electrical power, air conditioning, and total building costs. By the way, we have the opportunity to recognize some customer innovations and improvements:

http://www.oracle.com/applications/green/empower-the-green-enterprise-awards.html

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Is your company using any of Oracle's products to help protect the environment? If so, consider nominating yourself for an 'Empower the Green Enterprise' award. These awards will be presented to selected customers and their partners (system integrators, consultants, ISVs, etc.) who are using any of Oracle's products to not only take an environmental lead, but also to reduce their costs and improve their business efficiencies by utilizing more green business practices.

Note: nomination cutoff date is Friday, August 22, 2008.

Along the same line, the Higher Education User Group has been curious about how colleges and universities may be applying Information Technology creatively to improve sustainability. There is a survey currently running on www.heug.org. Here are the halftime scores:

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What about Oracle’s own operations? I learned that Oracle is in the “Green Power” partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So are many of you! 10 of the Top 10 colleges and universities in the EPA rankings are Oracle customers (of which 6 run Oracle Applications). Oracle’s data center in Austin, Texas – where our customers receive remote hosting services via Oracle On Demand – has been recognized by the EPA for its use of biogas and wind, renewable power sources.

So now we get it. Green has become “Sustainability”. Higher Education is leading the way because our constituents have prioritized it. Organizations, including corporations, governments, and educational institutions can make a difference, in their operations, and in the way they deploy technology. Go Green. Be sure to send in your nominations for the Oracle award, “Empower the Green Enterprise”.

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