Now is the time for IT to tackle rising energy costs

The energy used by IT equipment is one area CIOs can target to help their organisations curb energy price hikes

As the green shoots of recovery start appearing, organisations are set to grow. This will increase their energy consumption.

The energy used by IT equipment is one area chief information officers (CIOs) can set targets to help their organisations curb energy price hikes.

The Low Energy Company (LEC) is a new initiative combining training, certification and auditing, which has been established to help companies tackle rising energy costs.

Lord Rupert Redesdale, CEO of the Energy Managers Association and chairman of the Low Energy Company, believes IT managers must start focusing on the energy consumption of IT equipment to support wider company initiatives to save on energy costs.

At the launch event for the Low Energy Company in London Zoo he said: "If you send an email attachment from a laptop it takes a gram of carbon. If you have more than 10,000 attachments in your inbox you are using more carbon than your winter fuel bill."

The environmental impact of IT

As organisations emerge from the global recession they are likely to face a new energy challenge, according to Andrew Coulcher, business solutions director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). He expects industrialisation in developing countries will put pressure on scarce energy resources. He predicts that businesses ramping up after the economic slowdown are likely to see energy price rises for the next couple of years.

Redesdale told delegates at the event that their company's fuel bills will double in five years. But it is not only the cost of powering equipment and offices that rise with fuel increases. Redesdale says supply chain costs also go up when energy prices rise.

"Very few finance directors are able to break down their energy bill. We are looking at a bad situation in terms of energy. We don't have enough energy power stations and we have to replace the grid. Unless everyone reduces their energy consumption the UK risks power outages," warns Redesdale

The LEC aims to establish an industry-recognised certification and auditing supported by third-party training organisations, which it hopes will become the green industry's version of health and safety.

Redesdale expects local authorities to sign up to LEC certification to comply with the 2008 Climate Change Act. According to Redesdale, LEC is also in discussions with a third of FTSE 100 companies.

Due to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) large organisations are obliged to tackle energy consumption and carbon emissions across their supply chain.

If you send an email attachment from a laptop it takes a gram of carbon. If you have more than 10,000 attachments in your inbox you are using more carbon than your winter fuel bill

Lord Redesdale

Supermarket chain Tesco is one organisation that is working on making its supply more green. Tesco has developed a portal called the  Knowledge Hub. The Hub is part of a programme designed to reduce the cost, waste and risk that can be achieved by cutting 30% of the CO2 from the products Tesco sells by 2020. By the end of 2012, 1,000 suppliers were on the Tesco Hub.

In conjunction with the Carbon Trust, Tesco identified a supplier and fitter of energy-saving lighting, which could offer Tesco's supplier's 30% savings on capital expenditure for lighting equipment and installations. The Hub has allowed Tesco's suppliers, such as tea company Typhoo Tea, to save money by buying low-energy lighting in bulk.

The IT department at Coca Cola Enterprises, the bottling and distribution arm of the soft drinks company, is the first IT department to take up LEC training and certification.

Green training for IT

In 2010, Esat Sezer, CIO of Coca Cola Enterprises told Computer Weekly: "Using green IT as a buzzword to drive print consolidation, fax consolidation and reduction of paper use is not a bad idea. It makes sense to use that buzz as a tool to drive some of those efficiency-related activities.

The company is now looking at how to ensure IT workers understand the green agenda and the impact of IT equipment on the company's carbon footprint.CCE already works across its supply chain to focus on energy efficiency and sustainability, but Kevin Sirjuesingh, director IT strategic initiatives at Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) believes IT needs to step up and focus on how it can contribute to the overall sustainability agenda.

In the UK, office equipment and IT contributes to15% of the country's  energy costs . "This is the time to contribute to the green agenda. We believe staff training key."

The company is driving forward two initiatives to tackle IT equipment energy consumption. It plans to measure the consumption of the devices connected to its IP network, using manufacturer specifications and correlated against its hardware asset database.

CCE will  begin training IT managers during Q4 2013. There will be a second wave of training in Q1 2014. He said: "We will identify initiatives that will lower our energy consumption."

Sirjuesingh believes the IT manager of the future must contribute to the CSR agenda. "Embracing a green IT agenda will improve energy and costs through our supply chain," he added.

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