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The Australian National University

Idris Feltkamp Sulaiman

Idris Felkkamp Sulaiman portrait
Name: Idris Feltkamp Sulaiman
Position: Visiting Fellow
School: School of Computer Science
ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Education and Research Adviser
Computers Off Campaign and Foundation for IT Sustainability
ICT Sustainability Education and Certification
www.ComputersOff.org
www.FFITS.org
Contact Information:
M: +61 429 091 131 Tel: +61 2 6125 5694
F: +61 2 6125 0010
E: idris.sulaiman@anu.edu.au Alt E:idrisfsulaiman@gmail.com
Mail: ANU, CECS-SoCS, Canberra ACT 0200
Alt Mail: LPO Box 8233 ANU Canberra ACT 0200

Brief about my work:

The topics of my research:

  • Green ICT governance framework (process improvement approach that helps organisations improve their performance).
  • Green ICT practice and collaboration in educational, private and government sectors.
  • ICT Energy Efficiency/Sustainability regulation and policy.
  • ICT, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Economics

Work as Education and Research Adviser for “ComputersOff.org” and “Foundation for IT Sustainability” (FFITS.org):

  • Green ICT advocacy for the educational, government and private sectors.
  • Green ICT collaboration in universities and other educational institutions.
  • Green ICT standards and certifications.
  • Advocacy for the use of Green ICT as low-carbon enablers (in buildings, transport, energy networks/smart metering and others) and the creation of a low-carbon economy.

Your thoughts on Green ICT:

It’s easier being green if our organisations are actually “doing the right things”. While Kermit the Frog lamented that ‘it’s not easy being green’, the promise of a truly green and sustainable lifestyle can surely be greatly assisted if our organisations – both private and/or public organisations which are associated with where we work, learn, do research or even play – are more committed to tackling climate change and environmental sustainability and are actually demonstrating more leadership.

For medium to large organisations in Australia, investing in Green ICT in Australia is no longer an option but a must. In 2009, ICT is responsible for nearly 2.7 per cent of Australia’s total carbon emissions. More significantly, it is directly responsible for more than 7.1 per cent of all electricity generated in Australia. And with greater connectivity and more mobile computing in the coming decade, these numbers are bound to rapidly rise (‘Carbon and Computers’ in Australia, Australian Computer Society).

These are significant figures, particularly given that Australia is one of the largest carbon emitters per capita in the world.

In many organisations including universities, energy use from ICT equipment (according to Gartner now makes up around 25 per cent of the total enterprise energy use (often not including data centres) and energy use from PCs, monitors and laptops (31 per cent of the total ICT energy use) is the largest single category of ICT energy consumption, almost double that of servers (16 per cent) and more than double that of printers (15 per cent).

By investing in Green ICT (as a fraction of their ICT spend or of their ICT energy cost) based on a firm commitment as well as clear and transparent strategy, ICT user organisations will reap operational cost savings and achieve significant emissions reductions. These savings will improve emissions reporting and bring greater CSR recognition as well as assist in achieving national climate targets. And if individual users replicate some of the Green ICT “best practice” in their homes, they will also feel the benefit in their pocket, since they have the greatest share of ICT energy consumption.

To sum up, as Bruce Lee, the renowned martial artist and champion said:
“Knowing is not enough, we must Apply, Willing is not enough, we must Do.”

Hence, transforming intent into action requires more Green ICT champions, genuine ‘buy-in’ and investments from the organisational leadership. A recent international Green IT report (Green IT: The Global Benchmark) suggests that “Leadership, Accountability and Integration are the ‘must have’ Green ICT ingredients for success.” There is little doubt that in Australia and elsewhere, organisations that have an interest to reduce the energy costs and carbon footprints of current and future ventures must consider these ingredients.

Successes and failure that you see in Green ICT:

For many in Australia, the future of climate change legislation and particularly the establishment of a price on carbon pollution appears still uncertain at the close of 2010 than it did in the previous year.

The questions is does the regulatory deadlock put the onus on large organisations to do more to address climate change or does it let them off the hook?

In my view, it absolutely does put the onus on organisations and everyone to do more.

In Australia, larger organisations are now mandated to report their energy use and carbon emissions. In 2010, the federal government has finally released its whole-of-government ICT sustainability plan that mandates reporting in government agencies and departments.

Notwithstanding these developments, there are also international competitiveness and moral reasons for organisations and individuals to reduce their environmental footprints.

With the possible exception of its Government ICT Sustainability policy, Australia is at risk being left behind many of its industrialised country competitors. In May 2008, the EU Commission casts ICT in green role as part of its effort to combat climate change. Many industrialised countries are now implementing the recommendations of the OECD Council of ICT and the Environment.”

Some APEC economies are already rolling out major initiatives such as ‘Smart ICT Applications’ (Japan), ‘Green Growth’ (Korea), ‘Intelligent Nation 2015 (including using Green ICT)’ (Singapore), ‘Green Energy Industry’ (Taiwan). Such developments have led some commentators to argue that the ‘cleantech’ competition is in danger of being ceded to countries with such programs, the longer Australia, the U.S. and others fail to act and implement similar policy and programs (including in Green ICT) as necessary complements to the pricing of carbon (Australia’s Wilkins Review).

On the moral side, as the human misery and toll is rising with the greater climate change impacts that are already occurring, the moral and business case for action becomes more compelling.

Power savings you foresee through you work:

Research relating to Green ICT practice in organisations (including universities) in Australia and globally suggests that the leading ‘green’ ICT-using organisations recognise its importance and have made at least some significant investments to reduce the energy consumption and emissions of the ICT process as well as to achieve some certifications or best practice benchmarks in the delivery of and implementation of environmental management.

In many cases they have picked ‘the low hanging fruit’ otherwise known as achieving the Green ICT ‘quick wins’.

These terms refer to highly visible Green ICT techniques and technologies to reduce energy use such as server virtualisation, getting rid of CRT monitors and screen savers, data centre consolidation and central PC power management (or automated turning off when they are not in use) which allows also for effective online granular energy monitoring and reporting.

There are very many other aspects – engaging the user community, developing more accurate reporting and key performance indicators, better disposal of e-waste and recycling, increased use of teleconferencing and telework, introduction of printer rationalisation and power management of PC peripherals to reduce ‘ghost’ power, more efficient data centre design, which are being introduced to a greater or lesser extent to name a few.

Some organisations are already implementing an integrated ICT and building energy management systems as new innovative architectures are appearing on the market, promoting organisation-wide sustainability by reducing energy consumption across an entire organisational infrastructure, Such measures are affecting more than 50 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions created by worldwide building infrastructure, a much greater effect than the 2-3 percent generated by the ICT industry.

Turning to universities, while some are serious about Green ICT, others are fiddling at the margins rather than confronting it head on. If the latter group are serious about joining the international leaders in ICT sustainability while also providing their graduates with the knowledge and skills, then it is time that they show more Leadership, Accountability and Integration.

Only through effective programs that show such qualities could all of our organisations be ‘doing the right things’ and galvanise individuals to tackle global warming, climate change and achieve environmental sustainability. And its up to us as individuals to do ‘our bit’ and ensure that our organisations are brought into a greener economy than what we have.

Updated:  21 April 2011/ Responsible Officer:  Director, Facilities & Services Division/ Page Contact:  Systems and Information Technology