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7.2 Information Systems

In addition to the technology behind greening your computing operations, there are numerous software programs, or management information systems (MIS), to support corporate sustainability performance and to aid in executive decision-making tasks. MIS exist to measure any number of performance indicators related to social, environmental, and economic impact that are important to your company. Specific MIS can track carbon or greenhouse gas emissions (referred to as enterprise carbon accounting software), energy usage, compliance with voluntary and regulatory standards (such as ISO standards), environmental performance, supplier performance, or other sustainability indicators identified by your company. In addition to tracking sustainability-related performance indicators, software programs exist that are integrated with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework (see Chapter 8 "Accounting") for ease in reporting sustainability performance.

Prior to selecting software programs, you should be clear on what principles, standards, measurement and accounting tools, reporting, assurance, and stakeholder engagement protocols the company is following (see Chapter 8 "Accounting" and Chapter 9 "Next Steps: Sustainability Strategy"). Your company should select an appropriate MIS that supports the corporate conduct standards it is pursuing, measures and tracks the indicators of those standards, provides accessible data, and allows ease of reporting data progress on the standards (see Chapter 9 "Next Steps: Sustainability Strategy"). If the company does not subscribe to any particular voluntary or regulatory corporate conduct standards, the MIS should then meet the unique needs of the company for measurement, tracking, and reporting self-selected indicators.

An excellent resource for staying abreast of sustainability-related news in IT and information systems is Greener Computing. Other resources for computing professionals are Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, the Green Grid, Climate Savers Computing Initiative, Green Computing Impact Organization, and the Green Electronics Council. For technology administrators, the Green ICT Strategies Course is free open-source courseware sponsored by the Australian Computer Society.

IT and MIS are both in a central position to help the organization reach its sustainability goals. That is, IT can help the organization operate in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner, while MIS can serve an important role in transparency and gathering information for monitoring and reporting sustainability performance.