Greening the sector

I chaired the UCISA event on Carbon neutral learning earlier this week. Certainly there is a recognition that action is needed to reduce energy consumption and a number of solutions were highlighted. Data centres, with a concentration of equipment, are often the focus of effort with the most efficient requiring only 12% of power consumption of the hosted equipment for cooling. A tough target for the shared data centre projects to aspire to. UCISA highlighted the need for closer collaboration between Estates and IT departments in our response to HEFCE’s sustainability policy – this has been taken to one extreme at Ave Maria University where all estates equipment is network enabled and a staff of 8 maintain all IT and estates equipment.

 

Home working is one way of reducing carbon footprint by reducing travel. Coventry University introduced a location independent working (LIW) policy had interesting side effects – absenteeism was reduced by 13% and staff with LIW contracts switched to using public transport when going to the office. The policy required more formal communications strategies with conversations having to be scheduled between office and home based staff. Communications were key to changing culture within organisations and encouraging a more green approach. One example cited was a Swedish town where usage was published and incentives given to reduce consumption. With Green campus league tables now established, perhaps an inter-institution energy consumption competition is the next step? And how long will it be before HEIs follow Government department’s lead and include reducing energy consumption as a performance measure for their Directors of IT?

 

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