Green ICT

Does (your company) practice 'green computing'?

EXCELLENT Answers

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OKAY Answers

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POOR Answers

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Rapid advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) have revolutionised business and transformed societies. ICT can boost prosperity, lead to business innovation and help to mitigate environmental damage caused by commercial activities. The 2013 Network Readiness Index, suggested ICT could help lift over half a billion people out of poverty in the next decade. However, the lifecycle of an ICT from its manufacture to operation and final disposal has a potential for negative and positive environmental impact, often correlated to energy costs.

Green ICT policies are applicable and relevant to any organisation and a key part of any sustainability journey. ICT’s main direct impact for end users is energy consumption, making Green ICT a key player in reducing business energy costs and becoming more sustainable. Wider direct impacts such as e-waste and end of life considerations make green ICT a vital part of any organisations sustainability aims. ICT’s indirect impacts can reduce emissions in organisational activities such as substituting travelling by air with tele conferencing software.

ICT Lifecycle Diagram

All aspects of an ICT’s lifecycle (Figure 1) should be considered. Users of ICT only typically interact with the ‘In-Use’ lifecycle stage making other stage impacts seemingly invisible; such as exporting old ICT equipment to dump sites in developing nations in the ‘End of Life’ stage, or the heat and wasted electricity from ICT equipment.

Therefore, to be a truly ‘Green’ ICT, its total lifecycle environmental impact should be ‘net positive’. That is simply, the sum of an ICT’s positive impacts outweighing the sum of its negative impacts across the entire lifecycle of the ICT. In practice, this calculation is difficult to precisely calculate at each stage of an ICT’s lifecycle. Furthermore, there are many direct and indirect impacts to be taken into account. The main direct impacts are often energy consumption and the use and disposal of toxic elements – this is always negative and the aim here is to minimise impact through efficiency measures. The use and systemic impacts of ICT can be positive and outweigh the negative impacts. Software is at the heart of these indirect impacts as it can be used to abate emissions from physical processes. For example, using tele conferencing instead of traveling by car or air. Cloud computing can be used to host entire organisations on-site server farms using virtualisation techniques to reduce physical servers being used.

To combat the complexity of lifecycle impact calculations, manufacturers and environmental certification groups provide an array of impact information on the main stages of an ICT’s lifecycle (For example, Energy Star and EPEAT). Specialist organisations also offer ICT measurement and management services, tool sets and calculation methodologies to define, calculate and manage ICT impact which can be potentially variable.

For a detailed overview of the different impacts of ICT see Qingtech’s web page guide specially authored to complement this question.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

'Information and Communication Technologies' (ICT) include PCs and peripherals, IT services and telecommunication networks and devices. PCs and peripherals include workstations, laptops, desktops, monitors, and printers. IT services include cloud computing, data centres services and component servers.

Green ICT

'Green ICT' is defined as the use of ICT equipment that is sustainably produced, lasts longer, wastes less energy, is used in an efficient way and is disposed of responsibly. It also refers to the use of ICT to lessen other aspects of our environmental impact, such as by reducing the need for transport.

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

State their business sector

Detail their practices and policies relating to the use of ‘green’ ICT

Explain how ‘green’ ICT policies are communicated and implemented across the organisation

Detail their practices and policies relating to the procurement of ‘green’ ICT hardware, software and services

Explain policies relating to disposal of ICT equipment

Describe any future intentions regarding this issue

All Businesses MAY

State any philosophy or values which influence their approach to ‘green’ ICT

Explain how the environmental impact of its ICT is assessed and what methodologies are used

Describe how they use ICT to lessen other areas of environmental impact

Provide a hyperlink to their green ICT policy

Describe any future plans to implement ‘green’ ICT hardware, software and services

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

State their business sector, explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question and list the business reasons, any mitigating circumstances or any other reasons that apply

All Businesses MAY

State any philosophy or key values which govern or influence their approach to green ICT

Describe any actions they do undertake

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

The adoption and/or promotion of ‘green ICT’ is of key strategic importance for the organisation

Examples of policy and practice which may support the EXCELLENT statement:

  1. ‘Green’ ICT is a key part of their philosophy
  2. Demonstrates a strategic approach
  3. Pioneers the use of green ICT to lessen other areas of environmental impact
  4. Sustainability issues always taken into account when purchasing or designing ICT products
  5. Actively seeks ‘green energy’ ICT service providers (data centres, internet, cloud computing)
  6. Actively engages staff in ‘green’ ICT
  7. Attempts to measures the energy consumption of ICT hardware, software and/or services and assesses environmental impact using scientific methodologies
  8. Performs due diligence on their e-waste recyclers as part of waste management
  9. Is used as a green ICT exemplar by other companies
To receive a score of 'Good'

Supports and practices ‘green ICT’

Examples of policy and practice which may support the GOOD statement:

  1. Has a commitment to purchase and use green ICT
  2. Uses ICT to lessen other areas of environmental impact
  3. Communicates green ICT programmes to employees
  4. Assesses the environmental impact and performance the most impactful ICT hardware, software or services
  5. Clear policy in E-waste management
To receive a score of 'Okay'

Takes some measures to practice ‘green ICT’ or clearly explains why ‘green IT’ is a peripheral issue for the business

Examples of policy and practice which may support the OKAY statement:

  1. Demonstrates awareness of green ICT initiatives
  2. Ad hoc efforts to promote green ICT use with staff
  3. Some efforts to reduce environmental impact through the use of ICT
  4. Ad hoc purchase of green ICT equipment when financially viable
  5. Donates unwanted ICT to appropriate charities or non-profit organisations for re-use
  6. Explains clearly why green ICT policies are not relevant or applicable to the business
To receive a score of 'Poor'

Company fails to adopt appropriate and credible levels of ‘green’ ICT despite arguments and opportunities to do so

Examples of policy and practice which may support the POOR statement:

  1. The organisation acknowledges performance below expectations
  2. Statement of future intent to improve
  3. No evident efforts to practice any green ICT initiatives
  4. No consideration of buying sustainable ICT products