Local authority IT departments must take action to make their operations more environmentally friendly, a new report from the Society of IT Management (Socitm) urges.

The report on green IT says doing nothing ‘is not an option’ – and it offers case studies from six local councils and a police force to show what can be done to lessen the impact of IT on the environment.

Green IT case studies

- Chesterfield borough council: a technical and people-related campaign to cut emissions
- Hampshire county council: use of thin client terminals
- London borough of Hillingdon: virtualisation of servers to reduce power consumption
- London borough of Lewisham: use of PDA technology to reduce travel
- Staffordshire county council: extension of IT equipment life, re-use and recycling
- Avon and Somerset police: video-conferencing
- Brighton and Hove council: reduction in use of paper
- BT: flexible and home working

In a foreword, Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas urges IT managers to “use this report and your own knowledge and purchasing power to create ICT systems that are effective and efficient — both in terms of money and, most importantly, the environment”.

The Socitm Insight report shows how the environmental impact of IT can be measured, and how to produce business cases for new developments that take into account environmental impact.

It examines the environmental impact of IT equipment through out its lifecycle, from manufacture and distribution to use and final disposal.

Lifetime energy costs for powering and cooling servers are still overlooked by many IT professionals, even though they are now as significant as purchase costs, the report warns.

The report also shows how IT can be a major element in making the entire organisation greener – a theme also highlighted by analyst firm Gartner at its recent ITxpo. But it argues that realistic and accurate environmental accounting for new projects is essential.

It draws on recent research and experience both in the UK and internationally in the US and EU, where work is being carried out to define standards for carbon counting, energy efficiency and disposal regimes. The report also considers legislative and audit requirements that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact of IT.