New Greening ICT Call for Proposals

Green ICT Call

JISC has now released the call for proposals for Phase II of the Greening ICT Programme. The call, which was issued on the 29th September extends and builds on the current projects funded under the Phase I call, and also extends the work into new areas.

There are three strands to this Phase II call. First is a Rapid Innovation strand, where we are looking for short, technically focussed, projects that are looking to implement some sort of technical solution to issues that may be standing in the way of progress in developing green ICT solutions. One secondary aim of this strand is to enthuse and empower the developer community and to get them to turn their many talents towards the issues surrounding Green ICT.

The second strand is being targeted at projects that are led or co-led by the director of estates (or equivalent in an institution, and whose “centre of gravity” lies with the estates department. The reason for this targeting is that we recognise that the engagement and involvement of estates staff is going to be crucial in tackling some of the issues that IT people cannot solve on their own. We hope by this to get a strong group of people within the estates world who will be used to working with innovation, and who can be pathfinders in that and in forging good relationships with their colleagues in IT and Finance.

The third strand is looking to fund a small number of 18 month long exemplar projects that will show how an institution can harness ICT to transform the campus towards a more sustainable future. In some ways this last strand was inspired by the Ecoversity project at the University of Bradford whose work sought to embed sustainability across the totality of campus activities. The exemplar stand of the Greening ICT Programme is looking for ways in which technology can make this sort of drive towards campus sustainability possible.

Details of the call and how to make a proposal can be found at:

http://bit.ly/bDI38g

Proposals are due back by 17th November 2010. Please note that late proposals will not be accepted. There will be a briefing session for people wishing to understrand more about the requirements of the call on 13th October at 10.00 AM. Please send an email with “Green ICT Briefing Session” in the subject line to r.bristow@jisc .ac.uk. Note this will be a virtual briefing session.

Remote collaboration, anyone?

It may just be that this is the Green ICT Programme but I have been struck today that two different groups of people who want to talk to me about Green ICT have both offered the option of either a face-to-face or meeting by some sort of remote collaboration tool. One of the requests is for a workshop on sustainability for colleges in the North-East, and the other an invitation to debate the way forward in respect of Green ICT with senior folk from a university in the north of England.
One issue with video-conferencing is that historically it’s implementation and delivery and the overall experience have left something to desire, and those bad experiences can easily colour attitudes to the technology.
Hopefully the three JISC projects looking at various aspects of video-conferencing, remote collaboration and the greening of events will help to provide the firm foundations that we need to take the use of V-C and other tools to reduce the wear-and-tear on us and the planet from the need to meet and do business with each other.

Salix investment opportunities workshops

People in the sector with an interest in greening their ICT and who are already Salix clients might like to come along to one of the two workshops being laid on by Salix Finance and the JISC funded Suste-IT initiative.

Salix Finance is an independent, publicly funded company, set up in 2004, to accelerate public sector investment in energy saving technologies through invest to save schemes. Salix has public funding from the Carbon Trust and the Learning and Skills Council and is working across the public sector with Local Authorities, NHS Foundation Trusts, Higher and Further Education institutions and Central Government.

These workshops, the first at Kings College, London on 20th September and the 2nd on 23rd September at Nottingham Trent University  will highlight opportunities for existing Salix clients to identify practical examples of innovation that could meet the criteria for Salix funding.

Topics to be covered include:

  • European Code of Conduct on Energy Efficient Data Centres
  • Energy efficient cooling of data centres (e.g. evaporative, free, variable DX)
  • High efficiency UPS and high efficiency transformers
  • Energy efficient purchasing and operation of PCs and servers
  • Powerdown and other software

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for discussion of areas where opinions about the energy ‘balance sheet’ are divided, such as thin client and virtualisation.

Salix are making a small charge fro this workshop – £40 + Vat for one person – £20 for a second person from your organisation, no charge for a third. Email Leyla.Stender@salixfinance.co.uk to register

Small scale carbon footprinting

At the RECSO project workshop yesterday in London, I had a chance coversation with Martin Sepion, Senior Adviser at the JISC RSC for London.

Martin told me about some work carried out at Bromley Adult Education College, in south-east London. Following attendance at an RSC  Green ICT conference in 2009, staff from the college investigated the ways of replacing computers in  a teaching room with more efficient equipment. The chosen solution was one from Ncomputing – a system that is somewhere between conventional thick clients and thin-client solutions. The System essentially allows one PC to run up to 11 sessions with separate monitors.

The team made use of the JISC developed Suste-IT carbon-footprinting tool to assess the savings made. This was estimated at 38% in terms of KW hours.

What makes this an interesting little snippet of good news is the use of the footprinting tool for a small scale assessment of change – in this case just a room. It would have been really nice to have had some metering in place to gather some real life data before and after to allow us to validate the assumptions in the tool, but that is the sort of activity that should be covered in the JISC funded “Does ‘thin client’ mean ‘energy efficiency’?” project being run at Leeds Met at present.

Printing Workshop

“Printing is out of control” it has been said, and certainly in many universities and colleges, this is true of staff printing. In many institutions there is to be found a plethora of  individual use, low-capacity printers attached to individual computers about which the users exhibit strong proprietorial and territorial behaviour.  Typically these printers do not print on both sides of the paper (Duplex) and may have high stand-by rates of power usage.

The way out of this state of affairs is, in theory, quite straightforward. Instead of the mixed economy of printing provision provide a much smaller number of energy efficient multi-function devices (MFDs), with Duplex enabled by default, and add in “pull printing” so that jobs are printed only when the user wlaks up to the device and requests the job using a PIN code or smart card. That’s the theory.

However, experience shows that this is not always that easy. There are always the special cases and a reluctance to relinquish cherished pieces of what are seen as personal equipment. People don’t necessarily want to have to get out of their chairs and walk across the office to a printer, or to walk down the corridor to another office. In many older buildings on our campuses it may be hard to find places where MFDs can be sensibly positioned.

In the Greening ICT programme, JISC has funded a project called “Printing Efficiently and Greener (PEG)” at the University of East London:

“The overall aim of PEG is to investigate how barriers to GreenICT can be overcome within a HEI, especially in terms of cross-departmental working and implementing staff behavioural change programmes. This will be achieved by looking at the specific issue of improving the efficiency of printing to deliver a long-term sustainable solution. Rather than just merely implementing changes at an operational level, this project aims to increase understanding of a consultative approach to behavioural change.”

To help insitutions to tackle these issues the JISC funded ICT Energy and Carbon Management project, being run by the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC), is running a workshop at East London University on may 27th 2010. This event is free to attend, but priority will be given to delegates from the London and Yorkshire & Humbershire region, where the EAUC is spearheading its work in helping institutions establish their carbon footprints and then reduce them.

Universities and Colleges Climate Change for Scotland

Or UCCCfS – not the most cuddly acronym, but apparently better than some of the options discarded on the way. I’m just back from the north, and was in Edinburgh yesterday evening to be present at the official launch of this scheme.

So far 50 universities and colleges have signed up to the challenge of this scheme which  requires them to develop and publish a five year action plan to address emissions from across the range of their activities. This includes energy use, waste reduction and responsible disposal, sustainable estate development, travel and responsible and procurement of goods and services.

This initiative is run by the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) Scotland. It is overseen by the gamut of higher and further education stakeholders across scotland – from the Scottish Government downwards. The initiative is backed up by a raft of  professional development opportunities available through programmes that the EAUC run.

It is heartening to see 80% of institutions in Scotland signed up to the commitment, and good to have  Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Climate Change in the Scottish Government speak at the launch ceremony.

Also at the launch ceremony was Anthony Cortese, co-founder of the American Universities and Colleges Presidents’ Climate Commitment, on which the Scottish initiative is modeled to some degree. Tony spoke with passion about the need to act and the importance of engaging all levels of the campus community in developing the necessary plans.More details about the UCCCfS are at: http://www.eauc.org.uk/scotlands_principals_climate_commitment and on the American Universities and Colleges Presidents’ Climate Commitment at: http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/

Cloud Computing

In Birmingham today for the Cloud computing workshop run by the JISC funded project that is looking at the environmental and organisational implications of the Cloud for higher and further education.After a quick review of the evidence collected from the interviews have conducted, its down to discussing some of the issues being raised. Trust seems to be a real issue for many, with interest in sector tailored shared clouds being of interest to some people. There is some skepticism about the environmental benefits, with many seeing the carbon load being shifted rather than reduced.Trusted sources of advice mentioned were Gartner, JISC, Educause, with vendors being treated with some suspicion.#cloud #greenict #greeningict

Sustainable ICT Procurement in HE

The JISC funded Suste-IT project  has released a briefing paper on Sustainable Procurement in Higher Education.

Procurement was identified as one of the key areas for activity in the main report from the project published at the start of this year.

Buying the right servers and PCs can make areal difference to an institution’s environmental footprint, not just from the carbon produced from the electricity the device uses through its life, but also from the embedded carbon and harmful materials and processes used in manufacture.

Procurement in HE is a complex landscape, with a number of bodies, directives and standards to be aware of. The briefing paper examines the current landscape and sets the sector view firmly in the context of wider public sector activity in the procurement arena. The paper examines the various procurement bodies active in the HE sector and discusses their role in delivering the sustainable procurement agenda.

The paper examines the various standards – Energy Star, ECMA-370 and EPEAT, and shows what these mean in practice for people within the procurement and IT areas.

In the discussion the authors discuss the issues of Whole Life Costing (Total Cost of Ownership), Carbon Accounting, and the enabling aspects of ICT – that is potential for appropriate investment in ICT to reduce carbon emissions by enabling better building management, and reducing travel by the use of conferencing and through reducing the number of paper documents.

The Appendices to the  document include:

  • Quick Wins Standards for Desktop computing
  • Energy and Environmental Labelling of of ICT  Equipment
    • Energy Star (includes Energy Star 5)
    • ECMA  Eco-Declaration
    • EPEAT

Thin Client Movie

JISC has produced and released an eight minute video to provide some inspiration around the use of thin client approaches to reducing the carbon footprint of desktop computing. The video features the thin client installation at Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, and follows on from the success that QMU had in winning the Green ICT category in the Green Gowns awards.

The debate over thin client solutions over more conventional thick client approaches continues. JISC has published a tool (an Excel Spreadsheet) that will allow institutions to use either the provided generic data or vendor’s data to make cost and energy comparisons across the two approaches.

Greening ICT Programme Launched

Back from my holidays and able to flag up the launch of the first part of the JISC Greening ICT Programme.

The main Grant Funding Call went out on the 2nd September and has the following parts:

  • Call for proposals to look at the relationship between ICT related energy usage and responsibility for paying for that energy
  • A call for proposals for small scale studies into aspects of Green ICT
  • A call for proposals to run small scale demonstrator projects in Green ICT

The details of this call are at:

http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities/funding_calls/2009/09/0909greenict.aspx

Around the same time JISC also issued n ITT for a study of the environmental and wider organisational implications of Cloud computing. The deatils of this ITT are at:

http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities/funding_calls/2009/09/implicationscloudcomputingitt.aspx