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Businesses and consumers are becoming more attuned to environmental concerns when making technology purchases, and they crave leadership on the issue from IT vendors, according to a new study.

The study by market research firm Hansa GCR provides clear evidence that green IT buying decisions are no longer just about cutting energy costs, which has been primarily the case in the past. Social responsibility and concern for the environment are playing a bigger role.

“It really has been pretty amazing to see this kind of shift taking place,” says Paul Schwarz, Ph.D., who led the study and is vice president of sustainability research and green market insights at Hansa GCR. “Awareness is much higher now.”

For solution providers, increased interest in green IT from buyers means providers ought to be evaluating how much of an impact the products they sell and the processes they use to deliver services have on the environment.

The study’s consumer results also send a signal to the channel that going green may move from option to requirement at some point in the future, as Gartner has predicted in its own assessment of green attitudes in the market.

Are solution providers, VARs and IT consultants ready for environmental certifications?

Recent technology trends in the business world, such as social networking, have resulted from pressure by employees who first used the technology at home. With that in mind, it stands to reason that consumers who take the environment into consideration when buying technology at home will want the same in the office. And if office buyers respond, they will in turn pressure their suppliers–the solution providers and IT vendors–to be green.

Already, says Schwarz, consumers express modest to high interest–7.3 on a scale of 0 to 10–in having third parties certify as green the products they buy.

One option for them is to visit, which contains rankings on products based on 51 criteria.

Is that PC green enough?

The desire for a third-party green stamp also lends credence to an idea being discussed in the industry about instituting a certification, or accreditation, for solution providers that sell products and use processes that conform with environmental standards.

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 those consumers said the environment is a primary consideration in buying decisions.

Meanwhile, 64 percent of business decision makers agree that being perceived as green helps their company brand.