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Technology's role in sustainable business carries more weight

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Verdantix predicts $2.5 billion in 2015 spending for consulting and IT systems integration related to energy, environmental and sustainability initiatives.

Well-designed IT infrastructure is an increasingly vital piece of the puzzle for managing energy costs and natural resources such as water. That reality is reflected in new predictions suggesting that big U.S. companies plan to spend at least $2.5 billion on technology consulting and systems integration related to sustainability by 2015.

That represents a 47 percent increase over 2012, when roughly $1.7 billion should be spent, according to Verdantix, a research firm that closely follows this market.

The company's report, "US Sustainable Technology Services Spend 2011-2015," figures that power utilities will spend about half the money devoted to these technology services during 2012. That's because they are busy trying to deliver on the promise of roughly $4 billion in U.S. economic stimulus funds that were focused on smart meters for making energy management smarter at the residential and commercial level.

"Other growth factors revealed in our analysis include a big push by oil and gas firms to strengthen their environmental management systems, an ongoing focus on energy and carbon data management, and data-driven facilities energy efficiency," said Stuart Neumann, senior manager of Verdantix and author of the report. "The rollout of large solar parks and utility-scale wind farms is also creating new IT systems requirements."

Verdantix breaks spending predictions down into several different strategy areas. The biggest increase is predicted for enterprise energy and carbon management. In 2011, $73 million in technology services were dedicated to this area; that will rise by 28 percent to $194 million by 2015, Verdantix predicts.

Another fast-growing segment is facility energy and carbon management. Services spending should grow 24 percent from $115 million in 2011 to $275 million in 2015, according to the Verdantix report.

Sadly, the smallest amount of spending will go to climate change risk management systems. Just $28 million was spend on related services in 2011, and the number likely will only grow to $44 million by 2015.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure