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Steps towards a green Defence

by Paris Cowan •
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In a move that shows it is getting serious about sustainability, the Department of Defence (Defence) has announced its intention to set up a central information management system which will report on electricity, gas, water and waste and provide metrics that the Department can use to achieve greater resource efficiency.

Defence released a Request for Information (RFI) on 15 November in order to gauge market offerings in this new and dynamic area of systems development.

The RFI represents Stage 2 of their Energy, Waste and Water Data Management (EWWDM) project which is designed to reduce costs and increase resource efficiency across Defence.

Stage 1 of the project consisted of an internal review of resource monitoring practices which concluded that Defence relied on, “inconsistent practices for managing utilities and waste information”.

According to tender documents, the RFI “presents a substantial opportunity for the Commonwealth to obtain saving simply from consistent and effective practices supported by a single access point for utility and services cost, usage and performance information”.

The proactive adoption of resource monitoring systems by Defence puts it ahead of most other government and non-government organisations in Australia.

In August this year, a report into Green IT published by Fujitsu found that metrics were the ‘Achilles heel’ of nearly all the organisations it surveyed, and the number one obstacle preventing these organisations from achieving their sustainability targets.

Australia ranked at the very bottom in terms of its usage of green IT metrics, below the USA, UK and India.  Metrics also accounted for the lowest performance score for the Government sector.

The report’s director, Alison O’Flynn, called this “the biggest lock on progress” for Australian sustainability initiatives.

However, the new reporting requirements demanded by the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010-11 may push more Federal agencies along the same procurement trajectory as Defence.

Under the plan, agencies are required to report historical and forecast future consumption of greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water and waste into the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting (OSCAR) database.

While the market for environmental information management systems is still in its early stages, there are a few products that might catch Defence’s eye throughout its scoping stages.

Australian company Energetics produce the CarbonScope application which measures performance against sustainability KPIs. The company already does a lot of work with Defence in this space.

Solutions for Projects boasts a similar application aimed at large corporations who want to record their energy usage and identify energy savings opportunities.

Submissions to the RFI close 10 December 2010 at 2:00 pm.

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