Government plans to be IT carbon neutral by 2012

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Government plans to be IT carbon neutral by 2012

Simon Quicke

In a move that has the potential to put help make the green data centre debate back under the spotlight the government has announced plans to make its IT carbon neutral.

In a speech delivered at the Science Museum Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson outlined 18 steps that could help reduce the governments carbon footprint in order to be neutral in the next four years.

The steps being taken include switching off unused computers and those on outside working hours as well as trying to reuse as much equipment as possible.

Watson said that the IT industry was responsible worldwide for the same amount of carbon emissions as the airline industry: "It is a serious problem that requires a serious solution."

"We are the first Government anywhere in the world to formally set out exactly what we're going to do to make our ICT systems carbon neutral within four years. We won't achieve this just by offsetting but by making serious changes to the way we do business," he said.

He added that he hoped other businesses would follow the governments example: "Lots of small actions make a big impact. Between us we can make a real difference in the fight against climate change."

According to information from the Cabinet Office ICT is responsible for up to 20 per cent of carbon emissions generated by Government offices - around 460,000 tonnes a year.

Government departments will be asked to take 18 key steps to reduce carbon emissions including:

Automatically switching off desktop computers outside working hours. Turning off every desktop PC in central Government for the 16 hours that fall outside the standard working day could save up to 117,500 tonnes of CO2 per year - equivalent to taking 40,000 cars off the road.

Reusing as much computer equipment as possible. Most of the energy used in the lifetime of a PC is consumed during manufacture. Extending its use or re-using it elsewhere will save both energy and money.

Auditing data centres and server use to make sure they are running at maximum efficiency. A server that is switched on but idle still uses up to 70 per cent of the power it consumers when fully operational.

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