Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Results of Green ICT Policy Survey

Last October a Ph.D researcher, Ian St.John from University College Plymouth St. Mark & St. John circulated a survey to UK FHE IT, Environmental and Energy managers. The aim of the survey was to establish which HEI/FEI institutions had a Green ICT/Sustainability policy in place and what their reasons for doing so were. The results of the survey would also aid University College Plymouth St. Mark & St. John in the creation of their own Green ICT Policy.

The questionnaire was quite short but enabled the researcher to discover what the community as a whole perceived as being important factors to consider when formulating their own Green ICT Policy. Even though only 28 people participated in the survey and not all participants completed it, the results proved useful.

Results of the survey indicated that 68% of institutions have a Green ICT/Sustainability Policy while the remaining 32% did not.

Of the institutions that stated they had a Green ICT Policy, they indicated an improvement of green credentials (23.8%) as being the main driver for creating such a policy, followed by carbon reduction (19%) and social reputation as being in joint second place (19%). Cost Savings was in third place (14.3%) but ironically, cost cutting due to the economic down turn was not cited as being a reason for any of the institutions (0%).

Institutions also stated that improvement of efficiency (9.5%), political pressure (9.5%) and legislation (4.8%) as being reasons for implementing such a policy.

However, regardless of institutions having a green ICT policy or not, results of the survey indicated that the use sustainable ICT equipment was prevalent. Results from the survey’s Q.5, regarding the use of green ICT are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Percentage Use of Sustainable ICT Equipment
 Green ICT Initiative
% Use by UK HEI/FEI institutions
Server Virtualization
Multi Functional Printing Devices
Active Power Management
Server Power Management
Virtual Desktops
Thin Clients
Renewable Power
Green Disposal Policy
Flexible Working Policy

Almost 20% of the institutions stated that they had been recognised for a Green ICT award of sorts, the remainder having not, (so far). 53% of institutions employ staff that are dedicated to environmental impacts and performance, the remaining 46% do not. This is a real concern for institutions wishing to reach their carbon targets and indeed for the overall sector.
How are carbon emissions to be, firstly established and secondly monitored and improved on if almost half of institutions do not have a staff member accounting for environmental performance.    

These results are not unlike the results of a procurement survey for ICT Managers carried out on behalf of the SPCE Green ICT Advisory Committee in February 2011.  Results of that survey indicated that ICT managers showed a strong concern for the environment and a willingness to participate in environmental matters. Results also indicated there was a good overall ICT presence in environmental /sustainable committees with a strong indication that environmental issues are a concern for ICT managers.

However, results also indicated scope for improvement as many ICT managers were unaware of key sustainable ICT issues such as e-Waste, the use of whole life costing tools when procuring for ICT equipment and disposing of ICT equipment packaging.

To summarise, it appears as though institutions are, for the most part, aware of the benefits of utilisation of Green ICT and are demonstrating best practice, even if no corresponding policy is in place. The scope for  improvement will remain and possibly grow larger as not only is technology continually advancing but many institutions unfortunately still lack such a policy, have not assigned staff to take responsibility for sustainable ICT issues and poor cross-departmental collaborative thinking still exists.

Nevertheless, such problems are easily remedied by strong leadership, proactive staff and engagement with other institutions that face similar hurdles. Following the progress of the JISC funded SUSTE-TECH project may offer a remedy to those problems and offer practical solutions to institutions Green ICT dilemmas, regardless of size or status. The same can also be said for each of the 34 Greening of ICT projects. There is an abundance of JISC funded projects currently being run that address the many ICT issues that plague FHE institutions. In fact many have finished and their results have proven very useful. Check them out on http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/greeningict.aspx


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Video Conferencing at the 2011 EAUC Annual Conference’s Green ICT Workshop.

The EAUC’s 2011 annual conference ran a Green ICT workshop entitled Sustainability at your Institution through the Use of Green ICT and was attended by approx 30 people.

Starting off the workshop was Geoff Constable who “video-conferenced”(VC’d) in to the room from his office at the Aberystwyth University. No technical difficulties arose and linking up was quite simple. Everyone in attendance could see and hear Geoff clearly and eventhough Geoff was speaking to darkened room (lights in the workshop room were dimmed to aid the visual display of Geoff) he could hear everyone clearly. 

VC-ing allowed Geoff to present at the workshop without having to miss a full day of work that he may otherwise have. He also saved himself a 370 mile train journey = 101 Kg CO2 (31.8 Kg by train). As no event is ever truly “carbon-zero”, the energy use of the video conference equipment was included in calculations. The kit consumed 50 watts of energy and had a 200 watt monitor attached. This equated to 0.25Kwh = approx 150 gms CO2. *

In fact Geoff presented some time, energy and CO2 saving calculations from a recent VC conference he organised with 4 other welsh institutions. Cardiff University, Pontypridd, Swansea, Bangor, and Lampeter participated in the event and delegates were saved  from travelling a total of 807 miles, £322 in petrol costs and from having to release 238kgs of CO2.

VC-ing can also:
§       improve family, work/life balance as delegates travel less so can stick to a daily routine
  • improve equality and attendance at meetings as people who should (and want to) attended meeting, can do so, adding to overall efficiency and success rates of projects.
  • Reduce overall stress.

Video Conferencing has been around for some time but has recently experienced a surge in popularity. This may be in part as a result of improvements in technology allowing us to work from home and remote locations where travelling long distances is not always practical, too expensive or will have a negative impact on our ecological footprint.

For more information on Video Conferencing log onto the JISC greening of ICT website by clicking on the following link : http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/greeningict/technical/greenvideoconference.aspx 

To find out what other innovative project JISC are currently funding and how they may help your institution be greener click on the following link: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/greeningict.aspx

For one hour’s videoconference : (*DEFRA conversion rate 540g / Kwh – can vary according to supplier) Excludes Lifetime Carbon Footprint of equipment.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

The EAUC’s 2011 Annual Conference & its Green ICT Workshop

The 15th Annual EAUC Conference, aka THE sustainability event of the year for the further and higher education sector in the UK, will be taking place from the 11th - 13th of April 2011, at the University of York. Conference organisers have ensured that every aspect of the programme is relevant to sustainability professionals in universities and colleges.

The conference strands for this year are:
 Inspire Operations: Changes for sustainability in what and how we do things.
Sessions will include: Energy, Environmental Management Systems (EMS), Sustainable ICT, Labs, Workshops & Studios, Procurement, Transport, Waste

Inspire Estates: Changes for sustainability in our physical environment.
Sessions will include: Biodiversity, Capital Projects – Achieving in Low Carbon, Post-Occupancy Evaluation, Low and Zero Carbon Technology, Optimising Space Utilisation, Sustainable Master Planning

Inspire People: Changing culture, how we engage and take everyone with us.
Sessions will include: Communicating Effectively, Going Greener – the role of student engagement and behaviour change, Corporate Responsibility, Green Economy & Skills for a Green Economy, Financing Sustainability.

The SUSTE-TECH project manager will be hosting the 2nd annual Green ICT conference workshop. Entitled Sustainability at your Institution through the use of Green ICT, the workshop will run from 1:15pm to 2:15pm on day 2 of the conference (Tuesday, April 12th) and will include presentations from

  • Geoff Constable – Aberystwyth University,
  • Helen Cutts – Wigan & Leigh College,
  • Rob Bristow – JISC

The workshop will showcase what institutions have done to reduce their ICT related energy use. Learn how video conferencing saves time and money by eliminating the need for travel and hear about the mixture of simple yet effective sustainable ICT initiatives implemented by a college. Learn also about the innovative Green ICT projects being funded by JISC and the impact their results may have on institutions.

There will also be a Knowledge Exchange with Sector Experts session running at 4pm on Day 2 of the conference. This is your chance to get a 10 minute 1-2-1 meeting with an expert in implementing sustainable ICT at your institution. (You can also sign-up for your individual meetings at the Knowledge Exchange Boards too).

It promises to be a great session that will leave you inspired to take on whatever ICT challenges come your way and may even give you more “green ICT ideas”!

Maximising your Data Centre’s Efficiency Workshop

As part of the JISC funded SUSTE-TECH project’s ongoing promotion of Green ICT initiatives
a workshop entitled “Maximising your Data Centre’s Efficiency” was held last Thursday, March 31st 2011, at the University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education. The event was attended by over 20 delegates, mainly ICT managers who were keen to learn more about how to reduce their data centres energy use as well as how to green their overall ICT systems.

The speakers at the event  included Paul Rock, Principal Consultant Engineer at Cardiff University who presented on the results of his JISC funded Planet Filestore and the StorC Project. In his presentation aptly entitled “How to Make your Data Storage Greener”, Paul explained how by holding the majority of user files on storage, which consumes less energy and is also accessed and backed-up less frequently, Cardiff University were able to demonstrate significant energy and financial savings.

Chris Cartledge, IT Energy Use Consultant presented on how the EU Code of Conduct can help institutions reduce their data centre’s electricity bill. The document, and indeed Chris’s presentation, explains how to implement best practice at your data centre;  purchase energy efficient IT devices only, use virtualised servers and storage, switch off hardware when not in use and use free cooling where possible.

John Milner, JISC Programme Manager for Shared Information Services, presented on the benefits of using shared services and explained how reducing resource consumption and efficiency is basically all that’s required to reducing data centres running costs. 

The last speaker Dr. Hugh Beedie, Chief Technology Officer and Assistant Director of Information Services at Cardiff University whose presentation on “A Holistic Approach to Green IT” pretty much covered everything.

Finally delegates were treated to a short tour of the University of Bristol’s Data Centre.
The tour guide, Dr. Ian Stewart, who is also the Numerical Analyst & Director of Advanced Computing at the University of Bristol lead the tour and took delegates into the university’s data centre. Feedback from the delegates after their tour was that it was very useful.
(I’d imagine many had never seen a data centre of its size before).  

Common threads running through each of the presentations were switching kit off or turning it down and using storage space more economically. In short, a reduction of consumption!

To view the presentations from the March 31st Maximising your Data Centre’s Efficiency workshop (and others) simply click on the following link:http://www.eauc.org.uk/workshops