Monday, 12 May 2008

UK Government Action on Green IT

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
These would be recommendations, but in the sense that public sector IT departments would need a very good reason to ignore them.

I don't know which ones of these are still being considered. Apparently (according to 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.

© The Green IT Review

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