Thanks to a post by ZDNet’s Andrew Donoghue, I see that the European Union is to promote the use of ICT to improve energy efficiency throughout the economy, starting with buildings, lighting and the power grid. An EU press release dated 13 May 2008 says:
“… the most advanced computer servers consume the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb; if widely used they could offer potential energy savings of up to 70%.
… Research and rapid take-up of innovative energy efficient ICT solutions will be crucial to lowering emissions across the whole economy,” said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. “There is a win-win situation in which ICT will promote the competitiveness of EU industry while leading the fight against climate change.”
… ICTs, if directed to sustainable uses, could increase energy efficiency in all areas of the economy while continuing to account for 40% of Europe’s productivity growth….
The Commission will encourage the ICT sector, which at present accounts for 2% of global CO2 emissions, to lead by example the drive towards carbon neutrality. This will be done by reinforcing research, development and deployment of components and systems, complemented by voluntary agreements, for example on green procurement. The real gains from green ICT will come from developing energy efficient ICT solutions that impact the other 98% of global emissions.”
Last November, I submitted a paper arguing exactly this approach in response to the UK government’s draft strategy for sustainable construction – having criticised the consultation paper for its almost complete ignorance of the role of ICT (see post). The analysis of responses was published by BERR at the end of February, and my contribution appears to have been noted (BIW, my employer, is listed among the respondents on p.44). Paragraph 18 on page 7 says:
Other key suggestions included widening the Strategy to include transport impacts, adopting carbon neutrality as an underlying principle, the role of SMEs, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), ethical sourcing of materials, targets for new non-domestic buildings and action to adapt to climate change.
The final strategy is due to be launched on 11 June, and it will be interesting to see if this includes ICT as an enabler, particularly in the light of the EU’s encouraging stance on the issue.