Government saves millions with carbon cutting IT strategy

Cabinet Office hails the ‘Greening Government ICT’ strategy published last year as a success after department-wide green IT schemes save at least £7 million.

Posted on 25 September 2009

Cabinet Office hails the ‘Greening Government ICT’ strategy published last year as a success after department-wide green IT schemes save at least £7 million.
The UK Government has received praise from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) for being the only government taking serious action to reduce the emissions from Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment, which accounts for 4% of worldwide CO2 emissions – the same as the aviation industry.
Between 1999 and 2006 the amount of electricity used in Whitehall rose by 34%, the single biggest reason for this being the increased use of ICT. ICT is now responsible for up to 20% of the CO2 generated by Government offices, equivalent to 460,000 tonnes a year. This is the same as the amount created by a million households in a month or a jumbo jet flying around the world more than a thousand times.
To tackle the huge financial and environmental cost of ICT, departments were asked to take 18 key steps including turning off all machines at night, extending the lifecycle of computers, reusing as much IT equipment as possible and increasing server efficiency.
Some of the success stories include:

  • The Department for International Development (DfID) donating old equipment to charities in developing countries.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) saving £2.35 million by replacing 9,500 computers and 2,500 printers every five years rather than every three.
  • The Home Office (HO) saving £2.4 million a year by removing unused IT equipment and improving efficiency.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will save 200 million sheets of paper a year through cutting down the number of printers in the department and changing the default setting to double-sided printing.

These changes, along with many others, have helped cut the carbon footprint of central Government computers by 12,000 tonnes – the same as taking 5,000 cars off the road.
Angela Smith, Cabinet Office Minister said:
“All departments have risen to the challenge of cutting their IT carbon footprints and countries from around the world are now looking to us for advice on how to follow our lead. But it’s not just about the Government. I hope that private companies and individuals will also recognise the savings that can be made and get on board.”
Will Day, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), said:
“While ICT can provide solutions to cut energy use and emissions, the SDC’s work on sustainable development in Government found that Government electricity use is still rising, and the proliferation of computers, laptops, chargers and the air conditioning of server rooms is likely to be behind much of this.
“So greening the Government’s ICT is an urgent priority, which can save money as well as minimising energy use and emissions. After the successes of the first year of this programme, we look forward to seeing levels of ambitions raised further, and the Government working with departments and industry to explore and invest in far-reaching green ICT solutions.”

Posted under Energy Efficiency and Public / Government / Charity on 25 September 2009