It was reported in the UK computing press at the end of last week that John Suffolk, the UK government CIO, had announced a strategy to reduce carbon emissions from public sector IT operations.
I can't find the source of these comments to verify what was actually said, but I guess this relates back to the process initially talked about at the end of last year. Indeed I mentioned in my blog back in February, after a meeting with the Cabinet Office (where the CIO sits) that the process was well under way. The idea was to come up with a short list of 10-12 actions for government IT usage and at the time the ten being considered (but not necessarily final) were:
- Turn off PCs overnight
- Target a percentage of products to be EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) Silver certified. (This is a self-certification by industry in the US). It's mandatory for 95% of US federal government purchases and the EU is considering a similar rule.
- Keep PCs for five years, not three, to account for the embedded energy in manufacture.
- Consider thin client alternatives
- Consider whole life-cycle issues in purchasing.
- Rationalise printing, e.g. from four people to a printer to 12 people.
- Track and audit printer usage by person/unit
- Consolidate and virtualise data centres
- Ask suppliers to actively manage the cooling/heating in data centres
- Ask suppliers to sign up to the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres
I don't know which ones of these are still being considered. Apparently (according to Silicon.com) the final strategy will be announced in a launch in eight weeks.
Well at least there is a strategy coming. Given the targets set out in the Climate Change Bill currently going through parliament (26%-32% reduction on 1990 carbon emissions by 2020) one can't help wondering whether this is enough. One problem is in the area of procurement. The OGC (Office of Government Computing) has a 'value for money' remit which would might rule out 'Greener' solutions. I have heard from one insider that in fact environmental considerations are being taken into consideration in purchases by the OGC, through a backdoor route, but it would be better to set an example and address the issue head on.