CIOs expect to see their budgets increase next year to meet the environmental sustainability ambitions of private companies in the UK. A survey of 200 senior IT leaders in the UK, carried out in February, found that 30 per cent expect the technology budget to go up in the next financial year to meet green plans.

Of the 30 per cent expecting a budget increase, 25 per cent believe it will be in the region of 10 to 24 per cent. CIOs are also seen as the organisation wide change agents for pushing sustainable policies, with 23 per cent in the private sector tasked with spearheading the implementation of green policies across the entire organisation.

“To be more efficient, you need to understand where your consumption is coming from,” said Michael Fahy, Lehman Brothers managing director for Infrastructure Services. Fahy was responding to the Cisco sponsored survey, which reports that energy consumption is the number one priority in improving the sustainability of organisations. Reducing business travel is the number two priority. “Technology has an important part to play, but it is only part of the engagement with this issue,” he said.

Cisco found that 47 per cent of its survey group are looking at virtualisation, and the same number are looking at data centre consolidation. Digital communications to replace travel is being assessed by 40 per cent of those surveyed and 15 per cent are looking at greater use of Web 2.0 technology. David Meads, Operational Director at Cisco believes CIOs are being asked to lead the agenda following on from their role in seeking new operational methods for companies in the Internet age.

Fahy is one IT leader who has achieved the holy grail of combining a more environmentally sustainable IT model with improved efficiency and introduced new working practices. At the global investment bank he has introduced a methodology that calculates the energy consumption of applications according to servers, storage and network bandwidth it consumes. This is then billed back to individual departments, so that they can see their usage patterns and the power and costs it places on the organisation.

Cisco also found that employees are demanding that their employers are more sustainable. The survey found that 13 per cent of employees claim they will not work for organisations that do not have a sustainability programme in place and that 78 per cent were aware of their organisation’s sustainable policy. But over half, 51 per cent, believed that their employers sustainable policy was insincere or just part of their marketing policy.

Jo Causon, Director of Corporate Affairs & Marketing at the Chartered Management Institute believes the global nature of employment is placing pressure on organisations to be more sustainable. But she warned that digital communications and collaboration technology will not replace face-to-face entirely. “There will always be a need for face-to-face, but if these technologies become easier people will become more comfortable with them,” she said.

Meads at Cisco said his own organisation had increased its use of teleconferencing and as a result seen a significant increase in productivity and a reduction in travel costs.

Cisco commissioned YouGov to survey a cross sector of the general public and Vanson Bourne to survey IT leaders. The survey was carried out in February 2008.