I was reviewing some of our events for some briefing papers and the like that I am hoping to get moving on shortly, and was looking again at the “Storified” write-ups of the events we held over the last 18th months on various topics in Green ICT.
If you don’t know what Storify is, its strapline is “Find the best of social media”. As they say: “Storify lets you curate social networks to build social stories, bringing together media scattered across the Web into a coherent narrative.” With the help of the wonderful Event Amplifier, Kirsty Pitkin, we did just that for a number of events. Kirsty took over my twitter account for the duration, and tweeted key insights and points made by the speakers. Meanwhile she (in most cases) recorded video and audio streams. Later she wove these with the tweets (mine/hers and others) along with still pictures, presentations and her narrative, to produce something that is in someways better than actually being there on the day.
If you want to check them out you can find them at:
- Conferencing in Universities and Colleges-Improving Performance, and Reducing Travel and Stress?
The Conferencing in Universities and Colleges Workshop gathered together senior managers and travel coordinators with an interest in improving performance and minimising business travel. The workshop had a local audience at the University of Warwick and was streamed to a wider audience following remotely via the Janet Video Conferencing Service.
- Cloud and Shared Service Solutions-An event for IT and strategic decision-makers in HE to discuss how to create a level playing field for business and environmental optimisation
This workshop aimed to give IT and strategic decision-makers in HE a chance to find out more about the potential advantages and disadvantages of cloud and shared services, and the opportunity to reflect on the key factors that are likely to influence decisions in this area.
- Intelligent Buildings and Smart Estates -A workshop to consider how ICT can be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of university and college estates, and to reduce the costs, energy consumption and carbon emissions of buildings
The event was designed to help build links between Estates and ICT practitioners, with the aim of stimulating subsequent technical actions on areas such as interfaces and standards. This included a lively workshop session to discuss the issues and a series of presentations from the differing perspectives of the estates manager, the software developer, and commercial providers in this space.
- Best Practice Criteria for Sustainable E-Learning- An exploratory workshop examining the sustainability of e-learning from economic, pedagogic and environmental perspectives
Participants heard three short presentations discussing the issues associated with economic, pedagogic and environmental best practice within e-learning, each of which suggested a series of criteria for best practice. The presentations were followed by roundtable discussions allowing participants to evaluate and refine these criteria. This summary provides an overview of the issues raised by these presentations.
One heartening aspect of these captures of events – things that are by their nature ephemeral and sometimes only marked by a few decks of cryptic Powerpoint slides, is that they seem to have been very popular with a combined viewing total of over 2,300 – now that’s what I call Event Amplification!
Register here: https://survey.jisc.ac.uk/jisc_eucoc
As part of its Greening ICT Programme, JISC is pleased to invite interested parties to a series of briefings about the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres.
The Code of Conduct was launched by Defra and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in 2008 in recognition by the EC that data centres are heavy and often inefficient consumers of energy – and that this problem is only set to increase. Escalating costs of energy have focused the attention of senior management across all sectors on energy efficiencies and are driving renewed interest in understanding how measures in the EU Code of Conduct could help cut costs and carbon emissions.
Defra, via its Market Transformation Programme (MTP), helped develop the Code of Conduct providing specific input on reporting and monitoring.
The objective of this briefing event is to explain:
- What is the Code of Conduct?
- What are the benefits are and how to participate?
- How to drive incremental savings -§through measuring and monitoring IT and Facilities energy efficiencies
- Experiences from current participants in the Code of Conduct.
The briefing will be of interest to Data Centre Managers (Facilities & IT), Management driving a Green agenda, CSR, Purchasing Managers.
This will be an ideal opportunity for people working with data centres in the higher education sector to get a good overview of the code of conduct and hear how their peers are implementing it in practice. There will also be an opportunity hear about some technical innovations in metering and measuring for data centres.
The briefings begin at 14:45 for 15:00, and will conclude by 17:00 or 17:30 after some short presentations and a question and answer session. Afterwards there will be an opportunity to discuss the issues raised and to network with colleagues over a glass of wine and some snacks. For the really keen, we propose adjourning to a suitable local pub for more refreshment and further discussion.
The briefings are free of charge, but we do ask that you register your intention to attend at: https://survey.jisc.ac.uk/jisc_eucoc to give us some idea of numbers to expect.
Dates and Venues
- November 20th London – Intellect, Russell Square, WC1B 5EE
- November 21st Birmingham – University of Birmingham
- November 22nd Leeds – University of Leeds
Two bits of good news this week about recognition and/or further take up of the work of the Greening ICT Programme.
First up on Monday morning was news from the team at De Montfort (Richard Bull, et al) who ran the DUALL and Greenview projects. First of all they have had a paper accepted for the upcoming RCUK Digital Economy conference in Aberdeen. Secondly they have just learned that they have been awarded £225,000 from the EPSRC to take the work forward as part of the research in the wild (digital economy) programme to develop a social media/iphone app to test in Leicester CIty Council engaging staff with energy behaviours.
Secondly I heard from Lucy Nelson at the University of Central Lancashire that the iBuilding project that we funded there has been nominated for a THE award in the “Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development” category.
well done to all concerned – and that’s before we know the outcomes of the Green Gowns second stage.
Just back from London after a really successful workshop on dashboards, displays, reports and other measures to change user behaviour. This was held at the London campus of Coventry University. Strangely that is yo be found near Liverpool Street – and right across the road is the London Campus of UEA. Any other sightings of provincial universities London outlets should be reported here!
This was the 3rd workshop on this subject that we have run. It followed on from the on at Oxford last summer - see an earlier blog psit for the presentation from that – and one held in the autumn in Manchester – see:
The workshop was an opportunity for the project team from Coventry University to talk about the CUSTOMER project – see an earlier blog posting for details – which has been renamed following feedback from students as green@CU. Also presenting were teams from Manchester Metropolitan University on their engagement activities as well as The University of Bedford on their work in reducing energy use in labs (Project Delta).
A full report on the workshop, along with the presentations will appear on the Good Campus Website shortly:
What was of particular interest this time was the varied communities from which the participants had come and the amount of expertise. The discussion in the small groups was very rewarding as it was instructed by people with handson experience of installing and running energy dashboards and behaviour change programmes around energy use, and people with a research interest in the field.
We are now looking at what further workshops on this and other topics on Green ICT we should be looking to run though 2012.
The write up from this even tis now available at:
Thanks to the excellent work of our Event Amplifier, Kirsty Pitkin. I like Storify because of the way it weaves together the narrative with video clips, pictures, Twitter feed, slides and other social media. A proper mash-up!
Last week I visited the CUSTOMER project at Coventry University. CUSTOMER stands for Coventry University STudents’ Optimisation and Management of Energy Resources and is one of the projects funded under the JISC Greening ICT Programme.
The rationale for the project is that residential energy use is accounting for just over 21% of the total energy use and CO2 emissions of the university (2008-09) HEFCE return). As with most universities, Coventry charges its students a flat fee to cover their rent and utility charges in its halls of residence, with a consequent lack of any financial or other incentives for students to be careful about this energy use. Indeed, it has not been possible for students to even know how much gas and electricity they and their fellow students were using.
CUSTOMER will try and see if there are ways to change this. They will do this by firstly installing meters for both electricity and gas (where appropriate) in a number of pairs of matched floors or units in three different halls of residence. The matched pairs are to allow for a control group. The three different sites have been chosen to represent a range of ages and types of student accommodation, from a 1970s tower block with a dining room for breakfast and dinner through a modern conversion of the old central post office in Coventry city centre to a part of the main residence which were built on the old Singer car factory site in the 1990s. Added to these are a number of individual houses that the university owns and rents to students.
The project will then see how best to engage with the students and connect them to the information that the meters will be producing. Various options are being explored, including working the university’s Serious Games Institute to produced simulations and feedback type interfaces that will allow students to investigate the impact of their behaviour change.
The project is overseen by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Planning & Resource (Professor David Souter) and is a good example of cross-institutional working with involvement from IT services, Estates, Student Services, the Students Union, as well as academics from the Engineering & Computing Faculty and the Serious Games Institute.
For more information see the project blog:
and the details of the project plan etc:
Just finished a meeting with the project team from the Kit-Catalogue project at Loughborough University.
This project is taking an existing resource – a catalogue of equipment mostly of interest to engineering folk and making it into a resource that will be of use across the institution and the wider sector.
The underlying thesis of this project is that while there is a lot of expensive equipment in university laboratories and departments, other people in the same or a neighbouring institution are going out and buying another one. Kit-Catalogue aims to end this waste by firstly cataloguing all the equipment at Loughborough, and then making that information available to people across the university.
That’s the first step, later the plan is to involve local companies (there are some big engineering companies not far from the university and with whom the university has good links) as some of them have indicated that they have kit in their R&D facilities that could be of use to researchers. There is also interest from the research funding councils who now mandate that before a grant is made to buy new kit, the grant seeker must be able to show that they have satisfied themselves that the kit does not already exist and is available to use.
The intention is to release this system (its PHP and MySQL) as an open source offering, and to promote its uptake across the sector. One possibility is to have a kind of syndicated Kit-Catalogue, with local catalogues at institutions but the data available on a regional or even national basis.
Maybe we can link Scope 3 emissions data to items in the catalogue to show the environmental savings?
The project website is here:
As I am unable to embed other content in this blog I have added the presentations from the recent “Metering and Managing Energy Consumption in Data Centres” workshop we held up in Leeds. See:
For the slides with concurrent audio track of the speakers – thanks to VCASMO for the technology to do this.
There was a good turn out for the multiple JISC funded project workshop on Metering and Managing Energy Consumption in Data Centres held on the 12th July in Leeds. Delegates from a good number of universities across the UK, and a visitor from Dublin came together to discuss the issues around what to meter, how to meter it and how to use this data to drive improvements in data centre efficiency.
This workshop was a joint venture between these JISC funded projects:
First up was Roland Cross from Leeds Met, who described their work to improve their currently inefficient data-centre, while taking the time to meter and measure things to see just where the power is going.. They are tacking this through a combination of power upgrades, changes to air handling, hot/cold aisle separation and further virtualisation.
Roland’s presentation was followed by Colin Love from the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC). ULCC is a major co-lo site for HE and being able to charge their customers in relation to the power that they are using is of obvious interest to them.
Chris Cartledge, late of the University of Sheffield spoke next. He described the state of play with the university’s data centres. The picture is one that is probably familiar to a lot of people in the sector. This means plant and facilities that were built before people got really interested in data centre energy use, with poor air circulation and handling with mixing of the air flows.
Through all this discussion we keep coming back to a number of what are becoming familiar themes. One is the variable nature of metering – what do we meter and how? Do we meter at the power distribution board or at the rack or the individual box? What about metering embedded in the box itself?
Sheffield (with the help of funding from Salix) are working to make things better. A hot aisle is being introduced in one of the data centres, with a cold aisle in the other there there is no ceiling void. Racks will be sealed to prevent air mixing.
Sheffield is also working with the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres. The University now includes the cost of energy in some VFM calculations.
“By metering you are not changing anything!” The invetsment in metering only makes sense when you do something with the information.
After coffee and biscuits Michael Rudgyard from Concurrent Thinking spoke. Michael’s background was in HPC, and he has come to his current approach from a belief that a data centre needs to be holistically managed and monitored. He said that PUE is a good metric for planning a data centre, but is not much use for monitoring a DC. What is more important is how much of data centre energy is actually being used to do useful computing work? Should we be looking to develop a metric like “ITUE”? This could be on the basis of page impressions/watt, database transactions/watt, widgets sold/watt.
He identified a number of steps that can be taken. One is to identify and to eliminate servers that are doing nothing useful and making sure that equipment is up to date working properly. Another is the dynamic orchestration of virtual machines based on environmental, power and IT usage constraints. It’s also worth looking at active power management of servers during low utilisation periods.
Turning to what he termed “The Problem of Scale” Michael highlighted the drive for consolidation in organisations and across the sector with Cloud computing. Big cloud providers are driving efficiency by building their own servers and removing redundant equipment and writing their own software to be more efficient.
He went on to talk about some of the features of the two products that Concurrent Thinking are bringing to market. This includes Concurrent Command and Concurrent Control – more details here:
We had a really useful and enjoyable workshop at Oxford last week on the subject of dashboards displaying energy use and their effect (or not) on user behaviour. The reason for holding this workshop was to start bringing together some of the work that is going on in this area (some funded by JISC, some not) in a number of universities. It is also apparent from a number of conversations that there is quite a lot of this sort of activity going on in schools, local authorities and the private sector. Four institutions presented about their work:
University of Oxford
De Montfort University
University of Bradford
University of Manchester
Videos of the presentations with associated PowerPoint are available at: