Green IT – Back on the Agenda?

It’s a funny old world certainly as far as coincidences go.

Coincidence Number 1

I was delivering a Green IT course last week and had just completed the section on “Greenwash” when the VW (and then Audi) emissions scandal brokeon the television news. It turns out that millions of motorists have been driving cars with much higher levels of emission than they had been led to believe would be produced.

Coincidence Number 2

Only days later, Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, at a very prestigious event at Lloyds of London, gave a stark warning that climate change poses a huge risk to global stability. He said the challenges currently posed by climate change “pale in significance compared with what might come” and that this generation had little incentive to avert future problems. Evidence is mounting, he claimed of man’s role in climate change.

Looking to the future he went on to say that the after-effects of such disasters were likely to grow worse – forecasting that the challenges currently posed by climate change pale in significance compared with what might come with major global impacts on property, migration and political stability, as well as food and water security.

This, of course, contrasts starkly with the Conservative governments back-pedalling on its carbon reduction commitments – axing or watering down a host of green policies. David Cameron is being urged, by President Obama to step up the UK’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to follow the US lead which requires each of the 50 states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, with an overall aim of reducing power sector emissions by 32 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.

Perversely the UK government warned, in 2012, there would be a 20% shortfall in electricity forecast for the years 2015-2017. This, they said, was due to a number of factors that would create “a perfect storm”.

  • Dirty, coal powered power stations that fail to meet agreed emission targets must close by 2015.
  • Existing Magnox nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their life.
  • Wind, renewables and AGR nuclear plants will not cover the shortfall.
  • Reduced demand due to the recession has delayed the build of new capacity. Even if the building programme is restarted, it is unlikely that any new plants will be online before 2017.

Coincidence Number 3

Chancellor George Osborne has been touring China try to attract Chinese partners to help build Britain’s first nuclear reactor in over twenty years. Even so this is not likely to be on stream until at least 2025.

Whatever way you look at it, we must all do whatever we can to reduce our energy usage.

Worldwide, the carbon footprint of IT is actually larger than that of the airline industry – and it’s growing. As more and more of the developing world adopt information technology, the carbon emissions generated will increase with it.

Data Centres continue to grow exponentially and even though the latest servers are more energy efficient, the number deployed is ever-rising as too is the number of desk-top and mobile devices. In these circumstances is it not incredible that few IT Managers are held accountable for the energy cost of the IT deployed to support the business. Sure, they have initiated hardware rationalisation projects but the outcomes of these projects are measured in cost savings not energy and savings or carbon reduction. We must push ‘Green IT’ higher up the strategic agenda.

Let’s hope that the latest breaking stories will rekindle the interest in running and managing greener IT departments and that I will welcome many more students on our Green IT course Details here – particularly as we are now one of the very few organisation that offers it.

Stuart Sawle

Sysop

Green IT – Not just “nice to do”.

News this week from the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) – “the impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”. After a winter in the UK that has seen major storms and rainfall we can expect more incidents of severe weather as we go forward.

Worldwide, the carbon footprint of IT is actually larger than that of the airline industry – and it’s growing. As more and more of the developing world adopt information technology, the carbon emissions generated will increase with it.

There was political news too. Centrica warned that government policy would likely lead to energy shortages in the UK and electrical black-outs. Strangely, this isn’t new. In 2012 the government forecasted a 20% shortfall in electricity forecast for the years 2015-2017. This, they said, was due to a number of factors that would create “a perfect storm”.

  • Dirty, coal powered power stations that fail to meet agreed emission targets must close by 2015.
  • Existing Magnox nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their life.
  • Wind, renewables and AGR nuclear plants will not cover the shortfall.
  • Reduced demand due to the recession has delayed the build of new capacity. Even if the building programme is restarted, it is unlikely that any new plants will be online before 2017.

Whatever way you look at it, we must all do whatever we can to reduce our energy usage.

Data Centres continue to grow exponentially and even though the latest servers are more energy efficient, the number deployed is ever-rising as too is the number of desk-top and mobile devices.

In these circumstances is it not incredible that few IT Managers are held accountable for the energy cost of the IT deployed to support the business. Sure, they have initiated hardware rationalisation projects but the outcomes of these projects are measured in cost savings not energy savings.

We must push ‘Green IT’ higher up the strategic agenda. The government has done much to “Green” governmental ICT. The Greening Government ICT strategy is intended to minimise the impact of the UK Government on the environment and reduce both green-house gas emissions and waste in support of the Government’s commitment to achieve a 25% reduction in green-house emissions by 2015.

It’s time IT Manager’s followed this lead and set their own targets for energy reduction and carbon emissions. Highly principled, reputable companies like Unilever do this. Let us all follow suit.

Stuart Sawle

Sysop

http://www.sysop.co.uk/green-it

Going Green

I’ve talked in this blog before about the massive carbon footprint if IT activities and what we can do about it. This blog is more about your personal footprint and the affect that you’re having on the environment. It’s time to take action. You may have already started to implement things at home that help you reduce your energy bill and keep ‘green’ but what about work?

You probably spend more time in the office than you do at home. Maybe you plug away at a computer all day or print off lots and lots of paper. Over time small things like this take their toll on the environment.

Going green at work doesn’t have to be difficult and in this blog we’re going to show you 5 ways to do that today.

The commute

No one likes the commute – sitting in your expensive-to-run car in the middle of rush hour traffic. What’s to like about that? If you don’t live too far away from work though, there might be a better option.

Walking or cycling to work is a win, win, win. It’s cheaper, it keeps you fit and there’s no negative effect on the environment. Why wouldn’t you ride your bike to work?
Sure, it’ll take a little longer but after a week you’ll feel great, and your bank balance will look a little healthier.

Go paperless

Nearly every business requires notes to be taken, records to be stored and so on. All of these things are usually kept on paper, but why not consider storing them in the cloud? Modern technology means that everything that you have on paper can now be tucked safely away on the web.

It means that meeting time sheet, your payslips, the notes you took at that conference, they can all now go straight online, reducing your paper usage.

If you must use paper, print double-sided in draft mode.

Save energy

Lights, computer screens, printers, mobile phone chargers, we all leave these things plugged in or turned on in some form or another. If you aren’t using something then make sure that you turn it off.

You’d be surprised at how much energy leaving your computer monitor on standby can use. If you’re going green, switch everything off when you’re done with it.

Get everyone else in on the act

It’s all very well and good you plugging away at saving the environment but there’s probably lots more people in the office not going green. Try and persuade people to join in and offer rewards and prizes for the most inventive green methods of working.
The key here is to make going green worth your while. If you can find positives in each method (like staying fit when cycling to work) then you’ll stay motivated to keep it up.

Good luck!

Stuart Sawle
http://www.sysop.co.uk

The CMDB – a Green Dimension

Whenever I speak about Green IT, I assert that most IT Managers don’t know how much electricity their IT infrastructure consumes. Some challenge my statement and state categorically that they know exactly how much electricity they use because it is separately metered. Usually, however, this turns out to be the Data Centre alone. It does not include the vast amount of infrastructure out there on the network: user desktops; switches; routers; departmental printers; etc.

It’s an almost impossible task to keep track of the power consumption of everything out there – or is it?

We have a powerful tool at our disposal in the CMDB. We only need to ascertain the power usage of a device once and can record that in the CMDB and very quickly total the power usage of all of those devices across the network. Sure, we need to factor in service hours (likely switch-on time) and our model will never be as accurate as direct measurement. However it will give us a pretty good estimate and, more importantly, it will help us determine trends – are we getting better or worse – and will help us model the effect of changes to the standard roll-out.

I fully appreciate that not all service management tool-providers will include this level of detail at the moment; but with the rapidly rising cost of electricity and the increasing importance of a green agenda; it won’t be long before they do.

Stuart Sawle

http://www.sysop.co.uk

Green Festive Cheer from Doha

Last week, I lead a Green IT course. It’s always an inspiring event and the contribution from the attendees was high. There was considerable experience in the room and we all took something away from the course.

Day one of the course, as usual, looked at the reasons why an IT department needs to be more environmentally friendly; the dangers we face and the damage we’re doing to our planet. We also look at the progress world leaders have made from the Rio summit twenty years ago (1992) and “Rio+20” earlier this year. I mentioned that representatives from 195 countries were similarly engaged in Doha, Qatar. COP18 (Conference of the Parties) was actually taking place while the course was running.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The COP is the ‘supreme body’ of the Convention, its highest decision-making authority – so its deliberations and outcomes are important to us all.

One of the key learning points, on day one, is that climate change disproportionately affects poorer nations. Whilst we, in the UK, have suffered both drought and floods this year it has been nothing compared to the ravages of extreme weather elsewhere in the world.

“Rio+20” was considered, by many, to be a damp squib. So it was with some satisfaction that I read the Observer front page headline “Doha climate change deal clears way for “damage aid” to poor nations.

Poor countries have won recognition of their plight; richer countries have promised to fund aid to repair the loss and damage that those countries have suffered as a consequence of activities in the developed world. Even the US (which has not ratified the Kyoto protocol) accepted, albeit grudgingly, that the fund was a vital tool to help vulnerable countries.

The EU, Norway, Australia and others have agreed to new carbon-cutting targets beyond the Kyoto targets which expire at the end of this year. Unified discussions (i.e. that include the US) will now take place on a truly global climate treaty which, hopefully, will be signed in Paris in 2015.

It looks like, I’m going to be updating the course material while it’s quiet over Christmas and New Year. Please accept my very best wishes for peace and prosperity to you and yours for 2013.

To help Sysop in its support of the Rotary water projects in Kenya, please visit the My Donate website: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/kenyawaterprojects. With Gift Aid you can make a real difference.

Merry Christmas!

Stuart Sawle