IT industry’s carbon footprint equal to aviation’s

The lack of comment from the IT industry on the new Carbon Age has been suspicious in it’s absence. And for good reason.

Those good people at Carbon Trust in the UK have just announced a new programme to help companies understand the energy use within data centres.

You can read the release for yourself below but it is interesting to note that the 2% of world wide energy consumption that is being used to power the IT industry is equivalent to aviation industry.

So if you are a lover of carbon offsetting your interstate flights you may want to start considering planting a couple of trees after you have read this blog.

Carbon Trust joins up with British Computer Society to cut carbon from data centres

The Carbon Trust today announces a partnership with the British Computer Society (BCS) to develop a simulation software tool to help companies understand the energy use within data centres.

The tool is being developed to address the IT industry’s need to manage growing power consumption and increased carbon emissions, which current forecasts compare to the level from the aviation industry.

The project, funded by the Carbon Trust’s Low Carbon Collaboration initiative and Romonet, will focus on data centres as they contribute the largest single proportion of energy use and carbon emissions from the IT sector. Data centres account for a quarter of IT-related carbon emissions, which in turn make up 2% of the world’s total carbon emissions1. Romonet will produce the software, which is expected to be available in first quarter of 2009 and will be released through an open source license.

Based on a model created by the BCS Data Centre specialist group the software tool will deliver outputs allowing operators to manage total costs of ownership, energy efficiency and ultimately carbon emissions (carbon footprint) on a per service or per application basis, an industry first in terms of carbon accountability.

Using the software tool data centre owners and operators will be able to simulate the complex environment factoring both the mechanical and electrical infrastructure as well as housed IT equipment.

Hugh Jones, Solutions Director at the Carbon Trust explains: “The scale of the problem is worrying. Forecasts based on the current growth of data and associated IT infrastructure translates into a picture of unsustainable power consumption in the long term and power supply capacity issues in the short term. It is crucial that we make effective tools available to enable companies to identify the right steps to take to reduce energy use and carbon.”

Bob Harvey, chair of the BCS’s Carbon Footprint group says: “We’re delighted to be working with the Carbon Trust to address this important area to meet the increasing need for the IT industry to reduce its carbon emissions. For most companies, the data centre is the place to start, and with increasing energy costs and the threat of restricted power output to large data centres, there has never been a better time for businesses to reassess their energy usage. The Carbon Trust’s support helps to reinforce the message that the IT industry needs to address this issue now.”

Liam Newcombe, Director of Research & Policy at Romonet says: “We believe this is a very positive step forward for our industry and shows commitment from two important industry bodies to help businesses understand and deal with the complexities of energy efficiency in their data centre. Romonet are happy to be engaged and supporting this activity.”

Footnotes

The Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is an independent company set up by government in response to the threat of climate change, to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by working with organisations to reduce carbon emissions and develop commercial low carbon technologies. The Carbon Trust works with UK business and the public sector through its work in five complementary areas: insights, solutions, innovations, enterprises and investments. Together these help to explain, deliver, develop, create and finance low carbon enterprise.

The Carbon Trust is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government and Invest Northern Ireland.

The BCS

The British Computer Society (BCS) is the Chartered industry body for IT professionals, the Chartered Engineering Institution for Information Technology and a Chartered Science Institution. With our rapidly growing membership, BCS is playing an increasingly pivotal role in leading the development and implementation of world class standards for the IT profession through innovative products, services and support.

Through our specific “Professionalism in IT” programme, BCS is leading and building IT professionalism to levels which are currently only seen in more traditional long standing professions such as law, medicine, and accountancy but which will increasingly become the de facto standards for IT professionals.

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About Chris Sewell

Christopher Sewell is a TrinityP3 Business Director specializing in helping companies understand the environmental impact of their marketing spend. He is also the CEO of The Gaia Partnership who is building an on-line application ‘CO2counter’ to measure carbon emissions in all forms of marketing communications. Read his full bio here
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