Green and IT seemingly go hand-in-hand these days. As construction companies look to lower costs—and their carbon footprint, too—information technology seems to provide an appropriate means to an end for both. But how can you truly measure the energy efficiency of a piece of technology?

According to data from Constructech’s 2011 IT Playbook, more than 50% of construction professionals believe they have not quite figured out the right ROI associated with their efforts to go green using technology. Part of this could be tied to the fact that it is hard to clearly define which technologies are considered green.

For some, the pure thought of reducing paperwork in the field can be all it takes to deem technology as being green. Given the influx of mobile devices, like iPads and other tablets, taking hold in construction, contractors are beginning to view these tools as part of their mission to go green.

The pure appeal of tablets in the field relates to the idea of reducing the amount of paperwork they have to carry with them, not to mention the pain of going back and forth to the jobsite trailer in order to sync files. Therefore, certain apps that help with administrative functions can also fall under the header of being green.

Take an app like Dropbox,, for example, which eliminates the need to work off of multiple computers, allowing users to easily share and sync files between different computers and mobile devices. Users are able to bring photos, documents, and videos anywhere and share them. Another app that helps reduce the amount of paper used in the field is GoodReader,  This PDF markup tool helps contractors view Microsoft Office files, text files, and pictures, as well as play audio files.

To some, the idea of an app being part a green initiative may be a bit of a stretch. But when you think about the role these pieces of technology play in helping reduce paperwork, the mileage of going back and forth to the office, and perhaps even the need for extra administrative personnel, it might not be that big of a stretch. Finding the green appeal of an app for the construction field worker may be easier than you think.