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Green IT review praises Australian Government

by Paris Cowan •
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The Australian Government has emerged as a global leader in IT sustainability, a recent report by Fujitsu has found, not only topping the local sector in terms of Green IT maturity, but also out-performing its international counterparts.

Global Director of Sustainability at Fujitsu, Alison O’Flynn, attributes this progress directly to the release of the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010-2011.

“The Australian Government is a standout, not only for Australia but also globally,” says O’Flynn on the results of the report. “I think it is absolutely the development of the Australian Sustainability ICT plan that has contributed to this.”

“Having worked with government over the last 12 months, through industry consultation on the plan, I think that even just the collaborative process that the government went though in its development of the plan has generated significant momentum and action,” she adds.

In the past 12 months, the Australian Government’s ‘Green IT Readiness Index’ has skyrocketed from 38. 5 (out of 100) to 58, says the report.  This now places it well ahead of the average rating across all Australian industry sectors, which stands at 53.9.

The Green IT Readiness indices were calculated using survey responses from more than 630 CIOs and IT Managers from organisations within Australia, the US, UK and India.  Respondents were asked about their Green IT policies, behaviour, technologies and governance.

 The Government’s Sustainability Plan was launched in August this year by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA).

Building on recommendations of 2008’s Gershon Review of the Government’s use of ICT, the plan commits Federal agencies to a series of energy efficiency and sustainability standards, which aim to reduce energy consumption across Government ICT by 20% by 2015.

The plan also requires that agencies start reporting their energy use and carbon emissions through the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Report (OSCAR), as well as filling out a Green ICT Scorecard to monitor progress. These are changes which O’Flynn thinks are crucial to achieving real momentum.

“When we asked whether people actually know how much they spend on energy for IT, 69% of respondents from Australian organisations could not answer that question,” she says. “This paints a picture of Australia where a core issue is a lack of understanding around what energy actually costs.”

“Our experience is that for most government agencies, IT power bills account for 40-60% of the total bill, so it is a large number. By understanding this you can actually measure and monitor which areas of IT are using this energy, allowing you to focus on these areas as a priority.”

Areas most likely to be targeted by green initiatives are data centres, desktop computing, and printers.

“In the [government] IT emissions profile, 45% of the emissions come from the data centre, and 55% come from the office. So there is a large amount of IT emissions originating in the office. From this desktops represent about 40% of office emissions,” says O’Flynn.

O’Flynn also believes that strong Green IT progress in Government has the potential to flow on into the industry as a whole.

“I think that the sheer size of the government as a buyer of assets means that it has an opportunity to make a large scale change. I think industry is very ready to step up to this challenge and this will flow on to make sure we have the opportunity to effect change right across the sector.”

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