Tuesday 25 October 2011

Our Response to the ICT SIP Green IT section

Response to

Comments on

Government ICT Strategy
Strategic Implementation Plan


John Booth MBCS


Carbon3IT Ltd are a specialist sustainable IT/ICT consultancy based in the West Midlands but active within the UK and Europe, we audit and measure IT related energy use and carbon emissions, analyse the resulting data and recommend products and services to reduce energy and carbon emissions. We also provide transition project management to assist organisations in moving from a high carbon to a low carbon IT environment.
This paper is in response to HM Government’s recent “Government ICT Strategy, Strategic Implementation Plan, specifically Section 13 Green IT.


IT/ICT (Information Technology/Information & Communications Technology) use in homes, schools, offices and factories accounts for 2% of global carbon emissions. This is on a par with the aviation industry and is forecasted to increase over the next 10 years. However, this is a global figure and in developed countries with a high penetration of IT/ICT systems this can rise to as much as 20-30%. In the UK, IT/ICT is reckoned to account for 7% of grid capacity.
The amount of energy the world uses every day has trebled over the past century. To keep up with the growing demand for energy to heat and light our homes and power our industries, power stations are burning more and more fossil fuels. As well as using up limited natural resources, this process is releasing increasing volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the gas most responsible for global climate change – into the atmosphere.
Energy use will continue to increase. It has been calculated that, if present energy consumption trends continue, by 2010 global energy consumption and CO2 emissions will rise by almost 50% above 1993 levels.
Increasing evidence supports global warming. Between 1949 and 1989, Tropical Ocean surface temperatures increased by half a degree Celsius. Since 1983, there has been an 8% decrease in snow cover on the continents of the northern hemisphere.
Whether we agree as to the source of global warming or not, global warming is now a fact as is that more CO2 will not reduce but will increase warming.

If the developing world were to adopt the current western lifestyle, we would need at least another 2 planets to provide the resources required, so we all need to consume less and reuse more.

Information and communication technologies are expensive in terms of the environmental impact of their manufacture and use, but provide invaluable tools for helping to track and reduce the environmental impacts of our lives. They offer alternative lower carbon ways in which to work and live – the challenge is to learn how to adapt to using these technologies and so pay back their environmental debt.

You can’t control what you can’t measure
Understand where you consume energy at work and at home
Encourage yourself track your energy bills’ downward path!
Get visibility and take responsibility for energy bills at work


We have extracted each element of Section 13 and provided our response.
No mention is made of any other specific sections of the document and we recognise that some areas will overlap.

The Challenge

Government operates one of the largest ICT estates, where ICT is a major consumer of energy and natural resources. As energy costs continually rise and our dependence on ICT increases, the need for government to operate a cost effective, energy efficient ICT estate delivering quality public services to the tax-payer has never been greater.

Government ICT, and how it is used, has a key role to play in this. Not only because ICT consumes resources and power, releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also because ICT can be leveraged to green the wider estate and to change the way government operates and provides services, maximising efficiency and minimising environmental impact.”

We concur with this statement and fully support Government efforts to change current design, operations and energy consumption of Government ICT.


“Publish a Greening Government ICT strategy in line with the Government ICT Strategy and wider carbon reduction policies. ICT will be leveraged as an enabler to change the way government operates and provides services, maximising efficiency and minimising environmental impact.”

We understand that steps have already been taken to create a Green Delivery Unit, but note that it seems that there are no private sector companies involved at present. We feel that the expert knowledge from companies that are only involved in energy efficiency within IT are being excluded to the detriment of process of creating the strategy, the mission statements and the tactical goals required.

Key Metrics

Adoption of EU standards in procurement and current delivery of data centres”

We would recommend that ALL Government Data Centres become participants to the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres, and thus are compelled to report temperature, humidity and energy consumption data to the EU Directorate. Further that all best practices are implemented in the 3 year timescale allowed for with the code.

Volume of CO2 and cost of energy caused by government use of data centres.

At present, the ability of IT departments to measure data centre energy use and carbon emissions is severely compromised by the lack of measurement equipment at rack level. The use of clamp metering is frowned upon by H&S policies. The amount of energy saving possible will be outweighed by the cost of retrofitting monitoring equipment in the early stages. It may be prudent to move to new purpose built facilities that all already designed with monitoring and measurement equipment in place.

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of each data centre used by government”
PUE is not a comparator metric; therefore the collection of this information is essentially useless in determining energy efficiency across the estate. Far better would be the use of DCIM tools and real time energy use information across the estate using a common tool or one that adheres to a reporting standard such as the GHG Protocol ICT sector guidance that is in development. The co-ordinator(s) of this project would be well advised to become member(s) of the Technical Working Group or Stakeholder Advisory Group of the GHG Protocol ICT Sector working group and align with other work being conducted across Europe and the rest of the World by the ITU.
We would expect that if the Government is really committed to Green IT and the measurement of energy use and carbon emissions that it would consider creating a web portal where all public sector ICT data would be available for independent scrutiny.


“A working group of sustainable ICT, procurement and policy experts from across the public sector, the Green ICT Delivery Unit (GDU), has been established to develop the strategy and supporting tools. Following publication, the GDU will monitor and report on its implementation.

This working group should also include private sustainable IT companies that probably have a wider view of the products and services available in the Green IT Marketplace.

Priority implementation actions include:

Embedding Green ICT principles into the design of government ICT estate to ensure energy efficiency, maximise the use of equipment already in operation, eliminate wasteful redundant ICT and seek its re-use. Migrating to common infrastructures and maximising shared service opportunities across government;

This calls for a wide ranging change to existing IT strategies and policies already in place and runs the risk of causing unpalatable changes to existing supplier contracts, especially if the supplier/procurement agency does not have sufficient technical expertise in this field

Ensuring ICT environmental impacts are minimised across the life-cycle and Green principles are embedded from procurement, in use to recycle and disposal;

Again, wide spread changes to procurement policies will be required, the cost of energy is usually not applied to the originator of the service, in this case IT, and is normally a cost borne by the facilities department. In our experience it is usually the facilities department that drive energy efficiency across the entire estate; however IT is usually left to its own devices due to lack of knowledge on how IT operates.
The EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres has, as its first action the creation of a joint board comprising both IT and facilities managers. This is a fundamental requirement.

Exploiting ICT to deliver low carbon impact technology solutions for both government operations and public services;

A laudable element, but one that requires unconventional thinking: this is better driven by sustainability teams within Universities and Local Authorities and brought to a “Green IT Skunkworks” within the GDU.

Improving engagement with ICT suppliers and external partners to drive Green ICT Innovation across the government estate by identifying areas where ICT could improve energy efficiency and reduce waste; and Improving employee engagement and awareness towards the Green agenda to accelerate cultural and behaviour change.
A governance structure for its delivery has been established. Current priority work streams are:

Strategy working group: to set out our high level vision and key commitments over the next four years;

Maturity and metrics working group: to develop a framework to enable departments to assess their maturity in embedding green principles and practices into their organisations; and
Sustainable ICT procurement working group: to identify current and develop future procurement standards, terms and conditions, and best practice that is aligned to wider efficiency and reform initiatives.

The governance model and work-plan will be reviewed and set on an annual basis.

We would recommend that private companies are invited to participate in these Strategy Working Groups.
There are many products and services already in place to assist organisations to meet these goals; again we ask “why re-invent the wheel”

Key Milestones

Key Milestones
Completion Date
Strategy and implementation plan of key targets and commitments published including Green ICT Workbook of best practices and dashboard of top tips
October 2011
Maturity model developed and piloted by 6 organisations
November 2011
Publication of first report of central government maturity assessment and dashboard
May 2012
Government departments to standardise on ICT carbon foot printing methods
April 2015

We recognise that these milestones are tight and suspect that they may slip.


The Senior Responsible Owner for Green ICT is John Taylor, CIO of the Ministry of Defence.

We have no knowledge of Mr Taylor, however we have worked within the MOD in the past, we have reservations on whether the MOD is the best department within Government to pursue the ideals of Green IT that are contained within this document, however we do recognise that the MOD probably does have the furthest to travel of all Govt IT departments in this field, due to the nature of their “work”

Managing top 3 risks

 Mitigating Action
 Current financial climate restricts necessary investment in green initiatives.
 Consultation with key stakeholders. Making a compelling case for green in the strategy - that addresses current issues and longer term sustainability and clearly demonstrate the cost savings to be made over life, as a result of reduced energy consumption and waste.
 Green ICT seen as a standalone rather than integral part of the ICT strategy.
 Green ICT strategy and supporting tools developed with ICT strategy leads and vice versa. Empower Departmental CIOs/CTOs and make responsible for green ICT.
 Successful implementation depends on behavioural change – which needs to come from the top.
 Gain senior support to drive initiative. Make Ministers / Permanent Secretaries / Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State responsible for their departments achievement of Green.

We recognise that the risks are real and somewhat dangerous; this exercise is going against a lot of conventional IT thinking within Government. That said the real key measure is the strengthening of IT procurement across all departments and a strict framework of products and services that can be procured. We also believe that Government should consider the creation of a separate Green IT skunkworks to test all products and services prior to their adoption.
Therefore, we think that whilst Green IT and the savings that can be derived from it are paramount, the rush to instigate Green IT polices without careful thought and having the all the information to hand would be foolhardy. We advise the GDU to step carefully.


Our Conclusion

We welcome the Green IT section within the overall ICT SIP, however we feel that other elements of the document will have a greater influence on the provision, and governance of ICT within Government.

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