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Eco-Xchange's ComOOt plan to offer commuting alternative

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The Government's new Carbon Plan has insisted that if we are to see large-scale
take-up of electric vehicles as a major form of road transport, developing charging infrastructure will also be vital and the Government has committed to mandating a national recharging network. By June 2011, the Government will produce a strategy setting out how it will promote the provision of nationwide recharging infrastructure.


The reality is that travelling into and around towns has never been more expensive or congested. Fares are increasing three times faster than inflation on public transport that is overcrowded and unreliable. Electric and hybrid cars will reduce emissions and pollution, but issues of congestion and parking in urban conurbations will prevail.


Public transport can be modernised and capacity increased to a point, but this will demand massive investment and space within cities is already at a premium for houses and office space, without additional demands from the transport infrastructure.


A new paper from the influential Eco-Xchange group, which sets out to look at green 'in black and white'  argues that a different approach is needed that looks at the complete picture and provides a solution that is cost effective, flexible, environmentally responsible, and takes into account the specific issues of inner-city travel.


 The paper, 'Why Commute When you can ComOOt', argues that two wheels are better than four when it comes to getting from A to B in over-crowded city environments. By providing a range of electric powered two-wheelers from pedal bikes to motorbikes aimed specifically at getting the workforce to work, Eco-Xchange  argues it will be possible to save on public transport subsidies, reduce congestion and lower carbon emissions.  The ComOOT plan also includes secure parking and charging facilities, and the maintenance services needed to keep the wheels of business turning.


There is evidence that Olympic organisers and Transport for London are increasingly worried about the demands that the Games will place on London's transport infrastructure and have suggested that visitors should not rely on public transport to get them to the Games' venues in a timely fashion. At the same time, City businesses are also concerned that the additional demand on, already overcrowed, roads and rail services will lead to severe problems for their workforce and disruption to their business.


The average range of the bikes proposed would allow a comfortable return journey from the West End to the main Olympic site near Leyton. 


There is an element of social enterprise to the scheme too because Eco-Xchange argues that ComOOt  will provide a wide range of jobs covering everything from general servicing and support to general operational management, set up on a social enterprise basis, under a  Community Interest Company model.  The focus will be on offering a range of apprenticeships and vocational training as well as operational jobs at local and national level. 


According to Eco-Xchange, ComOOt is an ongoing project and will require R&D in all areas to improve the system over time. This will particularly suit those just starting out in the workplace who will benefit from  gaining qualifications and training on an ongoing basis in the new and growing industry sectors in the Cleantech and Greentech economies. 


What Eco-Xchange is looking for now is a founding partner and sponsor to support the development of ComOOt to deliver low carbon personal transport schemes to large organisations, local workforces and visitors in the Capital,  in time for the Olympics. 



The cost of wind power

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It would be a stretch to discuss a recent story that I read in the Daily Mail Online in the context of Green IT, though it fits into a green technology debate and is, I believe, worth pointing to.

The article discusses the process used to extract neodymium, the element needed to make the magnets in wind turbines.

The piece goes on to discuss how much energy wind turbines will actually produce. It's not a lot, and there are some who believe that money would be better spent developing tidal power.

The tides that surge around the UK's coasts could provide up to a quarter of the nation's electricity, without any carbon emissions. But as this article suggests, the sea environment is harsh and existing equipment - long-bladed underwater wind turbines - is prone to failure.

I wonder, two years on, what happened to this tidal turbine experiment?


CA Technologies and Groom Energy publish papers on Sustainability and GHG Emissions

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I had a very useful meeting last week with Sonny Masero, VP, ecoSoftware EMEA at CA Technologies, who pointed me towards a series of white papers on sustainability and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that were co-written with Paul Baier from Groom Energy Solutions, including one about GHG disclosure to investors. 


You can view the white papers here and Paul's blog on Practical Sustainability here

UK businesses sufferering from green fatigue, warns Kyocera

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Research conducted for the print and copy specialist Kyocera Mita has shown that levels of environmental concern among the UK's office workers have fallen over the past two years.

The survey into attitudes towards environmental issues amongst UK businesses found that the percentage of UK employees stating that they were personally concerned about environmental issues fell from a peak of 77% in 2008 to 63% in 2010. When asked specifically about the issue of climate change, the figures were even starker, with concern down to 50% from 65% in 2008.  

However, despite the drop in personal environmental concern, the survey showed some encouraging signs that environmental responsibility is becoming ingrained in the corporate psyche.

The good news is that the economic downturn appears to have had little negative effect on environmental initiatives being carried out by organisations, with 25% of respondents stating that they had actually carried out more environmental activities than originally planned as a result of a focus on reducing energy costs. It was also considered easier to get environmental policies onto the IT planning agenda in 2010 compared with 2008 with 41% finding support from management easier to achieve. Furthermore, 65% of IT Managers confirmed that they are now required to report on the energy performance of their networks, although only 49% had actually conducted an energy audit.  

Act green, mean lean appears to be the mantra, with cost reduction remaining the primary driver in IT investment for the majority of organisations , but environmental considerations are considered "important" in 35% of businesses. This is a strong indication of the alignment between cost-saving and energy-saving initiatives that has occurred over the past 18 months.

Kyocera's Director of Brand and Reputation Tracey Rawling Church said: "It's clear that individual office workers are suffering an element of "green fatigue" when it comes to personal environmental concern. What is more encouraging is the increase in environmental activity being initiated from the corporate level. Undoubtedly in larger organisations this is being driven by legislative requirements such as the CRC energy efficiency scheme. High environmental reporting requirements on IT networks encourage those responsible to prioritise investment in energy-efficient technology and as such are a positive sign."

Sustainability -- The Next Driver For Innovation And Growth

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I just came across this Forrester blog post which discusses some new categories of sustainability solutions and services to help provide a clear taxonomy of the varying solutions available in the marketplace. It builds on the recent survey I wrote about here.

Forrester's recategorising creates three main sectors: IT energy and resource efficiency (known as "green IT"), IT-enabled green business processes (what Forrester terms "IT for green"), and corporate sustainability planning and governance ("green business").

Examples of IT energy and resource efficiency (Green IT) include a baseline energy consumption and emissions footprint; design, build and optimise data centres; virtualisation and consolidation; and power management software.

IT-enabled green business processes (IT for green) include collaboration and conferencing; supply chain optimisation; building automation; and environmental management systems.

Corporate sustainability planning and governance (Green Business) examples are corporate sustainability strategy; develop an overall sustainability plan; position green IT within corporate sustainability goals and programs; green procurement policies.

IT Genome tools help California reduce carbon emissions

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While organisations know they need to reduce their overall energy usage, for some, the problem is simply in knowing what's consuming the power in the first place. That's true for all sorts of organisations, from SMEs through to some of the largest users imaginable.

One of these is the State of California, which has an Executive Order, S-20-04, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger enshrining the state's priority for energy and resource-efficient, high-performance buildings.

If it was to meet the order's requirements, the state had to have a clearer picture of what was consuming energy within its IT infrastructure, which stretched to the small matter of around 225,000 PCs, 9500 servers and more than 100 email systems. There was no repository of asset information and what asset information was available was based on unreliable and incomplete surveys and manual inventories.

To help it gain a clearer picture, California used two tools,Technopedia and Discover, from an asset discovery and management specialist, BDNA, to map a complete picture of  California's usage of hardware and software across a string of agencies supporting more than 180,000 state employees. BDNA's approach, called the IT Genome Strategy, builds on the idea of the Human Genome Project except that instead of mapping human genes, it is tracking use of IT to enable organisations 'to know what they are made of.' The company has just launched its IT Genome Strategy in the UK.

By analysing the data provided by BDNA, California expects to save over $40m and reduce carbon emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year.

At the same time, California believes it will be able to save costs in other ways, notably through:

* standardisation of hardware, software and operating systems

* centralisation of inventory control and asset management policies and procedures

* a greater understanding of current software licensing compliance

* enhanced security by identifying non-compliant systems and associated risks


You can read more about the California story here




Google: from a search engine to a power provider

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Given its influence, any news from Google shouldn't really be a surprise. But this week the company caused some raised eyebrows with its latest deal: a 20 year tie up to buy wind power. OK, it's not going to use it to wind power in its data centres, but it is going to be an energy provider, selling capacity back to the grid.

Perhaps the smartest part of the deal? It's locked in the price for 20 years.

You can read more here

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