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Environmental awareness is growing in the corporate office, and that means end-user organizations are starting to look to IT services and product suppliers to help them go green.

This puts the onus on solution providers to come up with technology and processes with as little an impact on the environment as possible. The problem is that often solution providers don’t really know where to start.

With that in mind, software vendor Actuate, which specializes in business intelligence and Internet rich applications, has developed technology that solution providers can use to help customers determine the sustainability of their businesses.

The intent is to guide customers through a process of figuring out wasteful practices they can eliminate and sustainable ones that they can enhance and replicate. Ultimately, customers improve their green bona fides, and as a result, improve the sustainability of their businesses.

Seema Haji, sustainability expert and senior technical marketing manager at Actuate, says the vendor, in developing and marketing Actuate for Sustainability Management, is striving to fill a leadership gap among technology companies.

“Green IT is a huge trend right now,” Haji says. Yet, she adds, vendors by and large haven’t stepped up to the plate to help customers go green. “I noticed very few IT vendors actually have a solution.”

Actuate for Sustainability Management, which is based on Actuate’s Performancesoft Suite and BIRT products, uses more than 100 built-in metrics to determine sustainability and allows companies to add their own custom metrics.

Through the application’s interactive dashboard, users can enter and track data to determine a company’s carbon emissions and consumption of electricity and water use. With the information in hand, users can then go about developing plans to make their companies more environmentally friendly.

Haji says Actuate introduced the application to partners and customers at a company event in August, eliciting a very enthusiastic response.

“I was actually impressed with the reception that it got,” says Haji. “People got the content, and they recognized the need for it.”

Customers and channel partners alike are eager to get their hands on technology to sustainable green practices, she says. For end-user companies, going green is becoming an important way to differentiate their brands.

“The No. 1 reason that customers want it is to get a competitive advantage,” Haji says. “It’s becoming extremely important.”

And that means the primary reason to go green is no longer to just save money. Technology companies and solution providers found in recent years that to get customers to implement green technologies, they had to make a pocketbook pitch. They have made the case that technology that draws less processing power and uses less electricity saves on energy costs in the long run, an effective appeal as energy costs have risen.

But in recent months, anecdotal evidence and research are showing a growing interest in going green to enhance corporate image. In a recent survey of business buyers and consumers, research firm Hansa GCR found that technology buyers are thinking green.

Hansa GCR found that 92 percent of 1,200 consumers in households of at least $50,000 indicated the environment is a factor in buying technology products. Sixty-four percent of business decision makers said that being perceived as green helps their company brand.

The study also identified a lack of leadership among technology vendors in getting out the green message because when asked, respondents typically couldn’t name vendors they perceive as green.

This finding, says Paul Schwarz, Ph.D, vice president of sustainability research and green market insights at Hansa GCR, indicates there is plenty of opportunity for vendors to take charge in the area of green technology.

And that is precisely what Actuate is hoping to do. Haji, who writes a blog on green tips, says the lack of leadership is evident, and it explains why her company’s customers and channel partners are so enthusiastic about her company’s sustainability application.

As a bonus, in measuring sustainability the application reaches beyond those areas commonly thought of as green. It takes into consideration economic factors by measuring how well a company controls costs, standardizes processes and employs compliance best practices.

The application also looks at the human factors of sustainability, which include employee satisfaction, training and community outreach.

The idea is that sustainability not only around energy conservation and greenhouse has emission reductions, but also social and economic factors that contribute to the ultimate success of a company, Haji says.

Click here to read about five ways to raise green IT awareness.