IT managers' carbon footprint must become green

Environmental issues will become one of the top five IT management priorities for local authorities within the next three years.

The issue will rise up organisations' IT agendas as they become more responsible for overseeing IT's effect on the environment, says research organisation, Gartner.

Public sector leaders must address both the advantages and disadvantages of IT in an environmental context in order to plan adequately for the future says Andrea Di Maio, vice president and analyst for the firm.

"Just as businesses in many industries are increasingly using environmental pro-activeness as a marketing tool, governments can also earn political capital by appearing environment conscious," Cabinet Office minister, Gillian Merron, has called for EU ministers to help public sector IT systems become greener.

Speaking at the European Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Lisbon she called for a reduction in the carbon footprint of government computers and improved sustainability of public sector IT.

"The government is by far the biggest user of IT in the UK, spending around £12 billion a year. We have a responsibility to set a positive example on the environment, so I am asking our IT leaders to work with industry to find new ways to improve the sustainability of government computer systems," said Merron.

In June the Cabinet Office signed an £8m contract with Fujtusu in an effort to save £2.5m per year and over 300 tonnes of carbon emissions compared to its existing contract.

Government chief information officer, John Suffolk, said, "The green ICT principles embedded in the contract will impact staff and the environment in several ways.

"For example, the service will allow more flexible and home working reducing travel and enabling more efficient use of office accommodation. Users will be equipped with modern, efficient thin-client devices, or dumb-terminals, which consume a fraction of the energy used by a traditional PC."