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Whitehall reduces ICT energy and emissions



Annual Greening Government ICT report also shows increase in maturity levels and progress in meeting key roadmap targets of strategy

Nine large government departments have reduced their operational energy use from a range of ICT by more than a quarter, according to the recently published Greening Government ICT annual report.

It also says there has been a rise in the maturity levels of departments in achieving the target outcomes of the Greening Government IT Strategy.

The update, which covers progress in 2014-15 and rounds up the four-year strategy, shows the number of staff covered by its survey increased from 399,000 to 439,000. But the average amount of energy used was reduced from 1,467 kilowatt hours per person per year to 1,015 kWh – equivalent to a reduction of 173kg of CO2.

The reductions in the energy footprints were achieved largely in the use of servers, networks and end user equipment, for all of which the reductions were more than 100 kWh per year. There were only marginal reductions for imaging, audio visual equipment and telephony.

Meanwhile, 14 departments have now achieved or exceeded the target level 3 maturity level for green ICT, with the average level rising from 2.9 for the previous report to 3.4. This has come largely from significant improvements in governance, information and data management, utilisation of devices, investment decisions and solution design.

Despite this, the data management and investment decisions areas are still said to be among the weakest for maturity, along with running projects.

KTO progress

The report also points to progress among departments in meeting the key target outcomes (KTOs) of the strategy’s roadmap. It says that three – HM Treasury, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department of Health – have already met the target of achieving 10 or more KTOs, while another eight are expected to do so in the next year.

The most progress in the KTOs has been made in procurement, recycling and print practices, while there have also been significant gains in areas such as energy management, end user devices, reducing travel and data centre and storage efficiency.

"During 2014-15 good progress has continued to be made on implementing the Greening Government ICT strategy," says the report. "All 16 large central departments and an increasing number of their arms-length bodies have again provided assessments of progress towards achieving a level 3 for the green ICT maturity of our technology services and adoption of 10 out of the 14 key target outcomes on the roadmap.”

Cloud challenge

Future challenges will include measuring the energy efficiency of cloud services. Although cloud makes it possible to share capacity, the energy efficiency of its hosting infrastructure is not readily visible, and this could lead to misplaced assumptions about its efficiency.

“Difficulties include estimating the proportion of a cloud service that is used, assessing emissions from intervening network components when services are shared with other customers, and direct measurements are not readily available,” the report says.

While the strategy has officially run its course, the report says the cross-government Green ICT Delivery Unit will continue to help departments and share best practice and lessons learnt.

Picture by Reategui12, CC 3.0 through Wikimedia

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