Misconceptions about Green IT are impeding the adoption of sustainable IT solutions across major industries in Australia.
The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), has released a whitepaper titled ICT’s Role in the Low Carbon Economy which will be tendered to Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, today.
The paper provides recommendations to the Federal Government in terms of a policy framework to lower carbon emissions, identifies major areas of focus for Government activity and details the benefits of Green IT in seven economic sectors.
They include Green ICT, energy production and distribution, transport and logistics, building management systems, industrial processes, health and the education sector.
The paper claims Green ICT could boost the economy from $35 billion to 80 billion, cut the country’s carbon emissions by 116 mega tonnes annually and create up to 70,000 jobs.
The AIIA report advocates collaborations between the major industries, not just ICT, across Australia. But the issue lies in convincing businesses to adopt Green IT technology and practices.
Sustainability analysis firm, Connection Research, conducts regular surveys with business managers of various companies on Green IT issues. It was involved with compiling the AIIA report.
“One question we ask is ‘Do you think Green IT costs money or save money?’ and the response is almost equally divided,” Connection Research research director, Graeme Philipson, said. “But a lot of Green IT issues aren’t to do with investment, they are to do with changing business practices.
“A lot of things we talk about in the report don’t actually entail actual investment but entail the usage of existing equipment and technology in a smarter fashion.”
He pinpointed three drivers for Green IT adoption: cutting cost, government legislation and moral obligation.
Trying to cut down the electricity bill is an obvious incentive for businesses to employ more sustainable solutions through the means of ICT.
Considering power costs are tipped to double in the next five to ten years, an increasing number of organisations are beginning to realise they have to address this, Philipson said.
A legislative impetus, such as the emissions trading scheme, will drive Green IT as it turns carbon emissions into an economic issue which, in turn, pushes people to act, he said.
The increasing trend in modern business wishing to be viewed as a Green organisation and a good corporate citizen also contributes to the adoption of Green IT.
“Certainly wanting to do the right thing isn’t enough,” Philipson said. “We surveyed business people and consumers. Almost 80 per cent of people say they want to do right by the planet but when you ask them how much they want to pay to be Green, the number drops right off.
“So you have to have all three drivers; Moral persuasion alone isn’t enough.”
AIIA chief, Ian Birks, saw the Government as playing a key role in stimulating changes required to shift all major industries to take on sustainable IT options.
“That can be through subsidies to take on new types of technology or it could be through investments in awareness and understanding,” he said.
CSC CTO, Bob Hayward, brought up an example of a lighter approach by Governments to promote more environmentally friendly IT practices.
The European Union recently brought in an optional code of conduct for datacentre operators which stipulate certain efficiencies and practices they have to employ to reduce their carbon footprint.
With the Greens holding significant power in parliament, AIIA, hopes its report will make an impact in sustainable political policies.