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Tuesday, 20 September 2011 09:14

Australian CIOs suffer green fatigue


Only 1 per cent of Australian CIOs see or pay for their electricity bills - even though ICT represents up to 75 per cent of energy usage in some organisations. And although Australia initially started well in the sustainability stakes, it's now slumped, and is the worst in the world when it comes to end user sustainability.

With electricity prices already on the march and further rises likely as a result of the Government's proposed carbon tax, many organisations will in the future experience energy bill shock. But unless they reform the way in which electricity charges are apportioned, there won't be much incentive for IT managers to get greener.

Fujitsu's ICT Sustainability; The Global Benchmark 2011 was released this morning and shows a significant slump in sustainable practises. The report notes that in the last year ICT sustainability has lost traction - falling from a rating of 56.4 to 54.3.

It also damningly states that; 'ICT sustainability in Australia has lost its momentum.'

The research methodology for the survey which was developed by Connection Research in association with RMIT measures green IT performance by tracking five variables, and in this latest report 1000 organisations were surveyed. The five variables tracked are: how companies manage their IT lifecycle (procurement and disposal; end user efficiencies; enterprise and data centre efficiencies; use of IT to reduce carbon emissions more broadly across the organisation; and measurement and monitoring of environmental issues.

Based on a series of questions companies or countries are given a ranking. Fujitsu has in the past said ratings of 70-80 should be the goal.

According to Alison Rowe, global executive director of sustainability for Fujitsu, there is a real economic business case for making a change. However she acknowledged that at present there were a lot of cost savings being left on the table, in part because 'green fatigue' seemed to have set in.

Ms Rowe however believed that the advent of a carbon tax may prod Australian companies into action, particularly banks and government bodies where ICT use can account for up to 75 per cent of the overall enterprise energy bill.

'Once you start to see a price on carbon you will see it is about accountability regarding power use. There needs to be a real change in focus on energy use as a core capability,' she said.

The report noted that at present 3 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions could be traced back to ICT. That is expected to double to 6 per cent by 2020.

But internationally 42 per cent of ICT departments never see a power bill or are told how much electricity they consume. In Australia - which is the worst in the world - only 1 per cent of organisations have their ICT departments see and pay their power bill.

Australia is also by far the worst in terms of end user sustainability. In the last year Australia's end user rating has plunged from 62.3 per cent to 51.8.

Traditionally end user sustainability is where some of the low hanging fruit can be plucked. But Ms Rowe said that by using a checklist approach many Australian organisations had had some early wins, but because they had not institutionalised sustainable practices much of the low hanging fruit had been allowed to 'grow back'.

She said an important first step was to make ICT managers accountable for their power use, and be forced to pay power bills themselves. She said many organisations still clung to linking power use to headcount or office space, instead of relating power use to activity.

Ms Rowe said once IT managers saw and were accountable for power bills they then needed to introduce tools, policy and education programmes to ensure that more sustainable ICT practices were driven through organisations. Just ticking off a checklist wasn't enough.

She said at Fujitsu every end user computer had locally developed Greentrac software loaded up which provided people with an energy efficiency score. At the same time the company has introduced policy requiring staff to become more energy efficient.



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