Do you care about green IT?

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Last week, it was announced that Facebook has agreed to work with Greenpeace to promote clean energy, and encourage major utilities to develop renewable energy generation. So the goal is to run on clean, renewable energy rather than using traditional sources, thus saving money and becoming - at the risk of sounding extremely clichĂ© - more environmentally friendly. 

The NGO is now trying to get other IT giants like Apple, Microsoft and Twitter to follow Facebook's lead and move towards clean energy. According to Greenpeace, the amount of electricity used by major IT companies to power their energy-hungry data centres is set to triple by 2020. 

Whenever I ask an IT exec whether they know the carbon footprint of the technology running in their organisations, the answer is invariably no. Or "we are working on it," but they rarely ever have real results to show in that respect. 

But some organisations have made progress. At Computer Weekly's UKtech50 event earlier this month, the technology director at Guardian News & Media Andy Beale was talking about the concept of digital sustainability, whereby companies would be able to measure the carbon emissions of a single click. More information about their work can be found here and here.

I found Andy's talk fascinating, but you could tell by the expressions on some of the attendees' faces that this is an extremely novel concept. How many organisations can say they are genuinely using technology in a sustainable manner AND using IT to reduce their employer's impact on the environment?

I would be very interested in hearing from any IT chief who is actively working on such initiatives.

Sure, the industry needs better and clearer guidelines on how to do this effectively, but those in charge of technology must be better informed and more proactive when it comes to green IT. If you are not working on it because you don't know where to start, then ask for advice. If you are doing this already, then share best practices openly. 

Given the CIO's powerful position to drive change when it comes to running a corporate environment in a more sustainable manner, rolling eyes and/or not doing anything about is not only irresponsible. It is simply not an option.
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  • The problem is that there is no real methodology to calculate ICT energy use and carbon emissions.
    This is something the GHG Protocol ICT sector guidance hopes to provide, work is currently being carried out on 13 individual work streams.
    The other problem is that the skills required to calculate carbon emissions is not really an IT skill, but the sustainability officers in a company dont really understand where the boundaries are for IT emissions calculations. The BCS green IT product manager Chris Wallace can provide independent advice on those external consultancies that can help.

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