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Banks Take Steps to Cut Their Environmental Impact

Two new reports, both issued within the last week, detail methods that financial institutions could employ to lessen their environmental impact. While many banks are starting to take steps to become greener, lack of regulatory guidance leave many institutions unsure of what paths to pursue and where to start. TowerGroup and Gartner offer some advice for those looking for some direction.

Two new reports, both issued within the last week, detail methods that financial institutions could employ to lessen their environmental impact. While many banks are starting to take steps to become greener, lack of regulatory guidance leave many institutions unsure of what paths to pursue and where to start. TowerGroup and Gartner offer some advice for those looking for some direction.A new report from TowerGroup says, sustainability initiatives - environmentally friendly and socially responsible actions - are growing as a market force among financial services institutions in the United States.

Emerging demand from customers and employees is helping push financial institutions to forge a strategy around incorporating products and services that are environmentally friendly. But, since there are no clear regulatory mandates, banks are still unclear about which methods they should pursue.

A number of leading financial institutions have already adopted some sustainability measures, according to TowerGroup. These initiatives range from sourcing power from "green" suppliers or affiliating themselves with associations such as the U.S. Green Build Council, to offering "green-friendly" products to the marketplace (which includes a growing push to reduce paper statements and increase online account access by customers).

Towergroup says, inside the financial institution, sustainability initiatives must be shaped around key internal dynamics, such as corporate culture; operational processes, such as recycling and telecommuting; and image/marketing, such as the "branding" of sustainable initiatives. As these efforts broaden and deepen, the sustainable financial services enterprise must also address and engage three external constituencies: suppliers; regulators; and customers.

In another recent report, Gartner has outlined three steps that can help organizations reduce their network environmental footprint:

1. Don't overbuy Gartner advises organizations not to let themselves be influenced by vendors into buying networking technologies they don't require 'just in case' or just to protect 'use it or loose it' budget cycles. However, adding additional network functionality can sometimes reduce environmental impact elsewhere in IT.

2. Minimize the number of layers and devices The blind application of 'established design practices' in networking can result in the over layering of devices and subsequent performance bottlenecks. Technological advances in many areas mean that the mountains of networking boxes in most networks today can be collapsed and replaced with a far smaller number of devices.

3. Consider power consumption of networking devices during product selection In addition to making power efficiency one of the new product selection criteria, power efficiency can become a factor in decisions regarding the replacement of aging network equipment. In the longer term Gartner expects to see the evolution of new more energy efficient networking technologies such as 'Energy Efficient Ethernet.'

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