Nearly two-thirds of UK businesses are not prepared for legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions, according to a new survey.

But even though 65 per cent are not ready for the new rules, over seven in 10 see green IT as a top priority. Some 79 per cent say the legislation will change the way they think about the environmental impact of their IT operations.

In April, the Carbon Reduction Commitment came into effect, providing a financial incentive for businesses to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their power consumption. Under the scheme, businesses with a half-hourly electricity usage of more than 6,000 megawatt-hours will have to buy ‘allowances’ based on the level of usage.

Over half of businesses have set targets to reduce their energy consumption, but another disparity is clear, according to the survey. Seventy per cent of firms are unaware how much power they use with IT, rendering any targets much less useful. Some 200 IT directors in large companies were interviewed by Vanson Bourne for the survey.

An additional problem is that nearly two thirds of IT departments do not pay for energy out of their budget, so they do not have full ownership of the resources they consume.

Brian Murray, principal consultant at IT services firm Morse, which commissioned the survey, said it was important that businesses “develop confidence in their ability to comply with current and future regulation,” with the key to this being “accurate measurement”.

Businesses need to “rigorously” monitor and manage their energy usage, he told CIO sister title Computerworld UK. Advisable steps included looking at datacentres from a design and equipment perspective, including by reviewing where energy is currently used and where inefficiencies lie.

“At the moment most organisations are just using guess work,” he said. “This can’t continue. In the same way that financial auditors wouldn’t accept guesses as to an organisation’s cash position, environmental auditors are unlikely to accept guesses on energy use.”