Friday, September 05, 2008

Greening Government ICT

The UK Government has issued a Greening Government strategy. The UK claims to be the first Government to set out a strategy for reducing the environmental impact of computer systems and has an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2012. However, the proof of a strategy is in the implementation. With strategies for improving the energy efficiency of PCs, Australia may well catch up and overtake the UK in energy saving.

  • Greening Government ICT ("The Strategy") (PDF version, 716KB): This 17 page document details both how ICT can reduce its own energy consumption and contribute to effeicienes in other areas of government activity.
  • Areas for Potential Carbon Reduction [PDF, 196KB, 8 pages]: This eight page document tabulates the Potential Areas for Carbon Reduction from Appendix B of the Greening Government ICT.
    Strategy: Efficient, Sustainable, Responsible.
  • Green ICT SOGE Map (PDF, 110KB: This is a two page document showing where ICT can be used to help implement the UK's energy reduction strategy.

4.1 Strategic Objectives
  • By January 2009 all departments are to address and consider the impact on carbon emissions of all new ICT purchases, building on existing mandatory “Quick Wins1” standards for certain aspects of sustainable ICT purchasing across government.

  • The SOGE targets state that Central Government's office estate will be Carbon Neutral by 2012. This will be supported by Government ICT in lowering the power consumption of equipment used, including outsourced contracts and services. ICT will also support the wider sustainability agenda and the SOGE targets, for example reducing emissions through changes in business processes and working practices, minimising transport and reducing waste through minimising paper use.

  • By 2020 Government aims to comply with and where possible lead and go beyond global best practice for sustainability across the whole ICT lifecycle. This will cover carbon neutrality and sustainable processes for use of materials, water, accommodation and transport, in the manufacture, use and disposal of ICT.

  • Off-setting to be seen as a last resort and only through an accredited scheme in line with Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra’s) code of best practice2.

4.2 This will be delivered by:

  • extending the Business/IT Strategy to include a green ICT plan that shows how the department will deliver the strategic objectives detailed above;

  • implementing as many actions from ‘Areas for ICT Carbon Reduction’ (Appendix B) as are practicable and necessary to deliver the strategic objectives above and specifically:

    • extend the lifecycle of all ICT purchases to their natural demise either caused by failure, inability to support the business objectives of the organisation, excessive maintenance costs or excessive carbon footprint and energy consumption, as opposed to frequent automatic refresh and replacement programmes. This should occur where such extension will have environmental benefits across the product lifecycle and re-deployment of the equipments is not envisaged;

    • reduce the overall number of PCs and laptops used by the organisation to reach as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible unless there are exceptional circumstances3;

    • implement a range of active device power management actions as detailed in Appendix B to significantly reduce power consumption;

    • reduce the overall number of printers used by the organisation and replace with multi-function devices where security issues allow and use green printing defaults wherever possible (such as double-sided and multiple pages printing);

    • increase average server capacity utilisation to achieve a minimum of 50% where possible, as part of a commitment to comply with the forthcoming European Code of Conduct for the operation of Data Centres;

  • as well as continuing adherence to the “Quick Wins” criteria4, by January 2009 all procurement documentation must specify environmental criteria for ICT in line with advice being developed by the OGC Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Procurement;

  • by December 2009 departments will demonstrate how ICT is helping reduce the carbon footprint across the whole department;

  • by January 2010 departments will be ready to report on the progress made towards carbon neutrality;

  • achieving these objectives will require close collaboration between departments, the ICT industry, Government CIOs and Government Chief Technology Officers (CTOs). The CIO of Defra has been asked to lead the development of this strategy and to oversee its implementation by the CIO Council.

3 Exceptional circumstances to include Health and Safety concerns, formal on-call arrangements, business continuity arrangements, security requirements and accessibility or special needs circumstances such as caring duties

Appendix B - Areas for ICT Carbon Reduction



PCs & Laptops

  1. Remove active screensavers

A monitor left running with an active screen saver uses the same amount of energy as when the screen is in full use.

The PC may also be consuming needless power in sustaining the screensaver

  1. Switch monitors to standby after 5 minutes of inactivity (no active screensaver)

Prevents a longer period of wasted power

May be possible to use the PC standby trigger to automatically switch the monitor to standby at the same time.

  1. Shut down PCs after office hours

For the default working day of 8 hours the overnight period lasts 16 hours, so could be wasting up to twice as much energy as consumed during the working day

  1. Enable active power management on desktops (standby / hibernate after a defined period of inactivity)

Having active power management enabled will more closely match the consumption of energy with use, reducing wasted energy

There are products that will enable active power management for all networked devices that have such power management facilities

  1. Ensure re-use of equipment that is no longer required but is still serviceable. If re-use is not possible recycle or ensure green disposal.

The majority of energy in the life of a PC or laptop is consumed in its manufacture, delivery and disposal.

Extending its use or seeking its re-use elsewhere will save energy and materials (manufacturing stage) as well as purchase and disposal costs.

Ensuring necessary security procedures are carried out prior to re-use, recycling or disposal.

  1. Specify low-power consumption CPUs and high-efficiency Power Supply Units (80% conversion or better)

Do not over specify system requirements. The richer the functionality on a device the more mains power is drawn – a high powered machine suitable for high graphic gaming is not needed in a central government office.

Power supply units convert mains AC power to the DC power needed by computers. More efficient units minimise the loss of energy from this conversion in the form of heat.

  1. Apply Thin Client technology

A Thin client is less complex than a PC and contains fewer components, increasing its life over that of a normal PC and reducing maintenance and support costs and thus energy consumption.

However additional energy is required to support the greater bandwidth necessary for connection to its server as well as to run the server and its supporting air-conditioning equipment.

Other office ICT Equipment

  1. Apply timer switches to non-networked technology and printers

Not all ICT equipment can be networked and/or automatically shut down or put into standby mode – typically fax machines, printers and even legacy computers aren’t networked. Neither do all such devices have automatic facilities to switch to a standby mode after a re-set time.

Timer switches can be used to turn off such equipment automatically outside office hours saving up to 2/3rds of its daily energy consumption if currently left on 24hours a day.

  1. Set default green printing including duplex and grey scale

By reducing the amount you print you will save paper and energy.

Further savings can be made by presetting duplex, booklet and greyscale defaults and using a “Print on collect” facility if provided.

  1. Optimise power-saving sleep mode on printers

Printers are only active for 263 hours/yr or 12 calendar days; so if on permanently they waste energy 97% of the time.

If power saving is already in place – reduce the amount of time before sleep activated.

  1. Printer consolidation

Reducing the number of printers and replacing those left with networked multi-function devices (MFDs) e.g. combined printers/copiers, can significantly reduce energy consumption.

Fewer printers may also lower maintenance and management costs.

  1. Device consolidation

Reducing the number of electronic devices an individual has will reduce in-direct energy requirements e.g. less support and maintenance.

Move from using PC to laptop or Thin Client and remote access services on a home or other non-work device connected to the internet to access email.

Rather than a mobile phone and a PDA(e.g. Blackberry), use a single integrated device and “follow-me“ services

Rather than having separate video conferencing equipment consolidating it into desktop devices may reduce energy consumption

Data Centres

  1. Server Optimisation

    1. Implement storage virtualisation & capacity management

    2. Convert existing physical servers to “virtual servers” – partition servers that run in parallel on the same hardware without any interference

    3. Turn off servers outside their service level agreement, subject to a phase loading and chiller unit risk assessment

    4. When designing & provisioning new services, create “virtual servers” instead of procuring physical new servers.

    5. Implement a multi tiered storage solution, much of the data spinning on disks today is seldom accessed

Assists in identifying unused servers and disks

Air-conditioning/cooling equipment typically requires at least the same power as the servers they cool, so reducing servers may save twice the power required to run them.

  • Industry practice has been to run a server using only 20% of its capacity.

  • A server which is switched on but idle still requires 50-70% of the power it uses when it is running under maximum load, therefore a single server running at 80% load uses considerably less energy than 4 servers each running at 20% load.

  • Configure several ‘virtual’ servers onto a single server to increase capacity used. Using a single device in this way not only reduces the hardware and support costs but also decreases the energy requirement.

  1. Reduce cooling in the data centre to appropriate levels and increase the ambient room temperature

  • Research has shown that increasing temperatures in data centres does not lead to a higher failure rate as was previously thought1.

  • Over 50% of the power associated with the data centre is used for cooling the ICT equipment2.

  1. Identify servers and data disks in the data centre that are running but not providing any services and decommission

  • A server which is switched on but idle still uses 50-70% of the power used when running at maximum load.3

  1. Specify low-power consumption, low voltage servers high-efficiency Power Supply Units (80% conversion or better)

  • Do not over specify system requirements. The higher the specification the more mains power is drawn.

  • Power Supply Units convert mains AC power to the DC power needed by computers. More efficient units minimise the loss of energy from this conversion in the form of heat.

  1. Ensure re-use of equipment that is no longer required but is still serviceable

  • Energy is required to manufacture, distribute and recycle equipment as well as to use it

  • Extending its use or seeking its re-use elsewhere will save energy as well as purchase and disposal costs.

  1. Data centre audit

  • Identifies mismatches between the current physical layout and the layout that would maximise the effectiveness of cooling from air conditioning units

  • Up to a 20% reduction in cooling could be achieved4.

3 High Tech: Low Carbon – The role of technology in tackling climate change, Intellect February 2008

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