To quote Forrester’s CEO and Founder, George Colony, during his keynote at Forrester’s IT Forum EMEA event: “CEOs only care about two things: revenue growth and profitability.” How should we interpret this? CEOs do care about green if it is able to drive revenues, reduce costs and mitigate risks — all of which are essential ingredients in delivering long-term profits and shareholder value.

Evidence is mounting around CEOs' rising interest in corporate sustainability initiatives. For example, the United Nations Global Compact-Accenture CEO Survey 2010 published in June finds that 54% of CEOs globally view sustainability as “very important” to the future success of their businesses. And the Economist Intelligence Unit backs this up by finding that companies that rated their green efforts most highly over the past three years "saw annual average profit increases of 16% and share price growth of 45%, whereas those that ranked themselves worst reported growth of 7% and 12% respectively."

So does your CEO care about green IT?

Not without some convincing. And here’s why: While your CEO might care about green, they may not necessarily care about IT. As an indicator of this, Forrester found that only 16% of the world’s largest companies mention green IT in their annual reports. And as a result, CEOs are most likely unaware of IT’s role in enabling their company's green ambitions. The good news, however, is that IT is playing an increasingly central role in planning and executing companywide green strategies which will lead to C-level visibility.

What it means for IT infrastructure and operations professionals: In short, get your head out of the data center using Forrester’s green IT maturity assessment methodology.

Greening your distributed IT assets — like enabling PC power management, removing desk-side printers or enforcing double-sided printing — are infinitely more visible to business users and the C-suite than virtualizing servers and turning up the temperature in the data center. And its likely more effective since distributed IT assets in aggregate consume more energy than the data center, 55% and 45%, respectively. From there, help enable green IT 2.0 (“IT for green”) projects — like videoconferencing, building energy management or green supply chain optimization — that drive revenues or reduce companywide operating costs (not just those in the IT budget).