Despite a growing awareness that environmental concerns will impact their future IT operations, the vast majority of large companies have yet to build "green IT" requirements into how they buy and use technology, according to a new report by Forrester Research. A Forrester survey of 124 IT operations and procurement professionals in North America and Europe found that while 85 percent said environmental factors are important in planning IT operations, only one-quarter said they have written green criteria into their company's purchasing processes.

Leading technology vendors such as Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Sun Microsystems are investing significant resources in green initiatives such as energy-efficient servers, data center power and cooling solutions, cleaner manufacturing, and device recycling programs. But is the market listening? And what will it take to sway IT buyers to go green?

"Our customer survey and interviews provide a directional view into the nascent green thinking of enterprise IT organizations," said Forrester Research Senior Vice President Christopher Mines. "We heard two reasons why green matters: efficiency and corporate responsibility. Most IT decision makers told us that a green purchase would only happen in the context of cost reduction. These are hard-headed, ROI-driven business decisions."

In-depth interviews with more than two dozen of the survey respondents illustrate the current dynamics around green IT. As one chief technology officer at a manufacturing company told Forrester, "We would do green because it makes business sense, not because it's green. It would have to show cost savings."

The Forrester survey found that IT buyers want to hear more about vendors' efforts to design and market more environmentally responsible products and services. Only 15 percent of the IT professionals surveyed said they have a high level of awareness of vendors' green initiatives, and most said they were hearing little or nothing from top-tier vendors about green solutions. Most respondents said they expected green to impact their purchasing decisions in the future.

"Technology marketers today will find increasingly receptive audiences for green evangelism," said Mines. "Slowly, that receptivity will translate into action on the part of enterprise IT organizations."