New green IT group to tackle business ignorance

IT managers are largely unaware of the carbon impact of their departments, according to an environmental charity.

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IT managers are largely unaware of the carbon impact of their departments, according to an environmental charity.

IT chiefs from the British Medical Association (BMA), Sony UK, John Lewis, E.ON UK, CQS, the University of Cumbria and Lloyds TSB met this week in London to establish a green group that will tackle climate change.

The eight-member group, called Environmental IT Leadership Team (EILT) and sponsored by solutions provider Logicalis, will work on publishing best practices for sustainable IT.

"Currently, the advice available to IT directors and CIOs comes from technology vendors. Although the intentions are good, the advice can be sometimes confusing and contradictory," said Trewin Restorick, director of environmental charity Global Action Plan and the chair of EILT.

Despite the growth of green IT, environmental strategy groups in companies tend to ignore their firms' own IT people and overlook the contribution that IT can make to improving the environmental impact of any company, said Restorick.

"The IT department doesn't even see the energy bill, so they are not seeing the impact of the technology they buy. So when an IT manager buys kit, it's often only used at 30% efficiency," Restorick told Computerworld UK. He advised IT managers to look at energy consumption, as it could help an IT manager tackle the issue head-on by putting the pressure on suppliers.

EILT, which has been set up to research the environmental impact of the IT department, plans to meet at the House Of Commons in three months and launch a research paper into the impact of business use of IT on the environment, entitled "An Inefficient Truth".

"This green IT team will provide a forum to review vendors’ advice and government policy, cutting through the techy and political jargon to give practical advice for creating a sustainable IT structure," said Restorick. "The team will help peers put carbon reduction policies into practice and greatly reduce their environmental impact."

The remit of EILT will be to "talk to policy makers and challenge suppliers" about creating environmental change. Resotric said the group will look at the "evolving challenges and concerns that CIOs face, as the IT department becomes the focus of carbon reduction strategies for many mid to large organisations."

Martin Kelmanson, head of the ICT division at the BMA, welcomed the new initiative: "It will be a practical forum to share best practice with industry peers, suppliers and users to make a positive impact on the way IT organisations across the UK tackle climate change," he said.

The group will also question political, industry, technology and expert witnesses about green IT and plans to commission independent research into specific areas of concern such as datacentre energy use, managing information growth and environmental legislation.

Environmental charity Global Action Plan was established in 1993 to assist businesses change environmental policies, and reduce carbon emissions. Restorick said the charity has grown at a rate of 40% a year over the last two years, due to the increased "up surge in interest in the environment", which has been promoted by high-profile figures such as Conservative party leader David Cameron.

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