IT cumulatively produces as much carbon dioxide as the world's commercial aircraft, research firm Gartner asserts.
The estimate is based on the cumulative amount of energy that PCs, servers, cooling systems, fixed- and mobile-phone systems, local-area networks, office telecommunications and printers use within the world's offices.
The estimate also includes all commercial and governmental IT, as well as telecommunications infrastructures worldwide, but it does not include consumer electronics other than cell phones and personal computers.
Simon Mingay, research vice president at Gartner, said technology companies will face increasing financial, environmental and legislative pressures to become more environmentally sustainable over the next five years.
Few IT management teams are aware of environmental and corporate social-responsibility policies already in place, and they have not mapped out the impact of the business' activities on the environment, Mingay added.
And the people buying technology for businesses do not fully understand the environmental impact and life cycles of products and services because of a lack of commercial and legislative incentives, according to Garter.
But technology purchasers are beginning to factor in green measures. Garter predicts that more than a third of IT organizations will have one or more environmental criteria in their top six buying conditions by 2010.
Reducing energy consumption and the use of hazardous substances throughout the life cycle of a product or service, and upping recycling efforts, are key areas to help businesses buy greener, Gartner said.
Gemma Simpson of Silicon.com reported from London.